How Close is Close?

How narrow should your grip be for 'close grip' work?


Close Grip
Close Grip.
After noticing that Kris is using a somewhat wider grip than I am for close-grip bench work (or floor work as the case may be) I had another look at the grip width used in my own lifts.

The standard grip I use is around 28"/71cm, which is still comfortably within the allowable maximum of 32"/81cm. The close grip was somewhere around 12"/30cm, and has been pushed out to 17"/43cm. This allows the forearms to remain vertical; assuming there's no elbow flaring as in the photograph. Something to keep an eye on next week.

There seems to be quite of range of widths that people favour when doing close-grip work. In part these are determined by the grip used for a standard bench press; a lifter with a chest-width grip may consider a narrow grip to be a mere 8-10 inches (20-25cm). Someone used to a 32" grip could well consider chest-width as narrow.

When working out the ideal width, consider this quote from Rob Wagner, writing in the June 2003 issue of USA Powerlifting :

'Let me define a narrow and wide grip. In two separate studies, researchers determined narrow grip as the distance between your acromion processes (slide your hand down your trap and the bony bump you hit is the acromion). They then applied this measurement to the hand spacing (distance between index fingers) on the bar. Wide grip was two times the narrow grip distance. Both groups of researchers found that grips that were 1.65 to 2 times their narrow grip were the most effective strength wise. The way you can determine your grip is to measure the distance between your acromion processes. Now measure the distance between your index fingers when you bench. Divide the bench distance by the acromion distance and if your number is between 1.65 and 2.00 you are in an optimal position (Clemons, J. & Aaron, C, 1997; Wagner, et. al, 1992).'

According to this advice my adjusted close-grip width of 17"/43cm is within the optimal range (9"/23cm between acromion processes, which gives 43/23=1.87). Unfortunately a few sets with a this new grip wasn't enough to really notice a difference; which I suspect had more than a little to do with the flaring elbows.


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ME BENCH Incline bench press 2x5@20kg, 2x3@30kg, 2x3@40kg, 2@45kg, 1@50kg Incline bench press (close grip) 4x6@35kg Triceps kickback 4x6@11.5kg Dumbell row 4x6@31.5kg (each side) Barbell shrug 4x6@100kg
Total time : 61 mins

Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 35) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

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