This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
If you’ve ever hit a training plateau, you know the importance of regularly switching up your routine. But change doesn’t always have to be drastic. Sure, swapping out tired exercises for new ones can trigger fresh gains, but sometimes all it takes to break out of a rut is making one or two small tweaks, such as altering the width of your grip during bar exercises.
Take the bench press, for example. Most guys place their hands just beyond shoulder-width on the barbell, and in general, that delivers the best results, hammering your pecs while working your triceps. But if you spread your hands just a few inches wider, you’ll shift even more of the emphasis to your pecs. Moving your hands closer together has the opposite effect, increasing the demand on your triceps while putting your pecs into more of a supporting role.
Changing your grip-width during pulling exercises, such as rows and pullups, has a similar effect. Going wide focuses more on your posterior delts and upper back muscles, including your traps and rhomboids, while using a narrow grip forces your lats and biceps to work harder.
Your move: If your training program has grown stale and your results have slowed, changing your grip-width is one minor tweak you can use to hit the refresh button. Other training tweaks include altering your lifting stance (e.g., going from traditional to a sumo in the squat and deadlift), changing your lifting pace, and altering your grip orientation in dumbbell moves.
But here’s the caveat to playing around with your grip-width during bar exercises: The wider it is, the greater the stress on your shoulders will be. So if you have a history of shoulder issues or feel any shoulder discomfort when using a wide grip, keep your hand placement shoulder-width or narrower.
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