Becoming Unapologetically Powerful: Hand Position for the Bench Press


Something I see all the time in the bench press: women benching with too narrow a grip on the bar. This certainly isn’t true in every case, but I’ve seen it often enough to address it in our Becoming Unapologetically Powerful series.

My theory is that women have a significant muscular disadvantage in our upper bodies: our pectoral muscles are pretty small. The bench press, being the beast of an upper-body press that it is, relies on many muscles to move the bar, but these three especially: the pecs, anterior deltoids, and triceps. For many women, especially beginner lifters, our pecs are eensy-weensy. Because of that, more developed muscles want to take over, and in this case it’s the triceps muscles. When a lifter has a close grip on the bar, the triceps become a prime mover, taking some heat off of the pecs. But if you’re looking to move the most weight possible (and of course you are!), you want to involve as many muscles as you can. Moving the hands wider will train all the muscles that grow a big bench.

Check out the latest video in our “Becoming Unapologetically Powerful” series. One quick note before you go: Moving your hands wider might not be a strong position for you yet, so adjust the weight accordingly. Cool? Leave any questions in the comments section below!


Oh, hey! You like to talk about lifting weights? Yep, me too, and that’s exactly why I’ve created the Unapologetically Powerful Big 3 School, an exclusive ecourse written with the sole intention of improving your squat, bench press, and deadlift.

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The Unapologetically Powerful Big 3 School ecourse is where I give you the information you need to build a strong foundation in the three powerlifts, and have a blast while doing it (because as I like to say, strong is so, so fun!). The course is free and my goal is for you to go forth and crush upon completion.

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Author:Jennifer Blake

Jennifer Blake’s leggings might be pink but her weights aren’t. A personal trainer at The Movement Minneapolis she is a powerlifting and strongman enthusiast with a passion for human movement, here to spread the good word that strong is fun. Facebook: Strong Is Fun, Twitter, Instagram
Comments: 4

4 Responses to “Becoming Unapologetically Powerful: Hand Position for the Bench Press”

  1. Jody
    September 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    Thanks again for a great tip. I just got back from benching and I spent my warm-up playing with my hand position. I ended up moving them out just about an inch from where they normally were and I felt stronger than I have in a month. Next session, I’ll repeat these weights and if it feels as good I’m moving on up.

    • Jennifer Blake
      September 25, 2015 at 11:06 am #

      Excellent, Jody! Be sure to keep us posted!

  2. September 27, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Great tip! Is this something you can assess on your own or is it better to have someone eyeing it for you from straight-on?

  3. Peggy Tirrell
    May 24, 2017 at 7:10 am #

    Thanks for your tips. As a neophyte powerlifter at age 65 it is especially important to me to lift using proper techniques. I am a strong believer in form being more important than the numbers. I have picked up several pointers that both validate what I am currently doing and give me a few new things to check out.

    Thanks again.

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