Wide Grip Bench Press: Muscles Worked, How To Do, Variations

If you would like to learn more about wide-grip barbell press for developing your chest, triceps, and shoulders to achieve a more defined upper body, then you should read the whole blog.

The wide-grip bench press is an often overlooked but incredibly effective exercise targeting chest, shoulder, and tricep muscles.

To make your chest stronger, add a wide grip bench press to your workout routine. You need to know how to do it correctly and which muscles are being worked.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about correctly performing the wide-grip barbell press. 

You will also learn its benefits, how to avoid common mistakes, its best variations, and how to do them.

What Is Wide Grip Bench Press

The wide-grip bench press is a variation of the traditional bench press. In it, the hands are placed wider together on the barbell, typically wider than shoulder-width apart.

It is a compound exercise that simultaneously works for multiple muscle groups. In addition to targeting the chest, wide grip bench presses also train the triceps, anterior deltoids, and serratus anterior.

A wide grip emphasizes outer chest muscles as compared to a narrower grip, which puts more emphasis on the tricep.

This wide grip reduces involvement and training stimulus on the triceps, but it can also provide benefits such as decreased risk of shoulder joint injuries.

The study suggests using a flat bench with a wide grip for heavy bench press training. This helps athletes lift heavier weights.

The wider grip allows the wrists to maintain a more natural angle throughout the pressing motion. Good option for intermediate and advanced lifters looking to intensify chest activation.

The trade-off of fewer triceps activation may be worth it for some lifters if it means avoiding shoulder issues.

How To Do Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press

Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press Muscles Worked

A wide-grip bench press engages more than one muscle as a compound exercise.

  • The primary muscles that work during it are the chest muscles (mainly the outer chest).
  • Secondary muscles worked during it are the deltoids (shoulders), Tricep brachii, and serratus anterior.
  • Various stabilizing muscles, including the rotator cuff muscles, the biceps, and the core muscles, are also involved in stabilizing the body and the barbell during the exercise.
Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press Muscles Worked

Note: A study comparing grip widths in bench pressing revealed that biceps brachii activity increased with wider grips, while triceps brachii activity decreased with wider grips.

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How To Do Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press

To perform the wide grip barbell press, follow these steps:

Set-Up And Position

  • Load a barbell with the appropriate weight that’s challenging but allows you to maintain good.
  • Lie flat on a bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Position yourself so your eyes are under the barbell.
  • Grip the barbell with your hands placed wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  • Retract your shoulder blades and pull your shoulders down towards your back pockets.

Lowering The Bar

  • Unrack the bar and hold it directly above your chest.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the bar down toward your chest.
  • Lower the bar until it touches your chest just below your nipple line.

Pressing The Bar Up

  • Exhale and push the bar back up to the starting position.
  • Focus on pushing the bar straight up.
  • Keep the movement controlled and steady.

Finishing The Lift

  • At the top of the movement, extend your arms without locking your elbows.
  • Ensure that your feet, hips, and shoulders remain in contact with the bench.
  • Once you’ve completed your set, carefully return the bar to the rack.
  • Do 8-12 reps for muscle growth.
How To Do Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press

Tips And Form

  • Start with a light set to warm up the muscles and prepare the joints. This can prevent injury and improve performance.
  • Maintain a natural arch in your lower back, but don’t exaggerate it. Your head, upper back, and buttocks should remain in contact with the bench.
  • Ensure the grip is tight and the wrists are straight.
  • Do a full range of motion. Lower the barbell until it is close to your chest. Press it back up to full arm extension without locking out the elbows.
  • Ensure smooth and controlled motion to prevent unnecessary strain on your joints.
  • Inhale as you lower the barbell, and exhale as you press it up.
  • Keep your core engaged. This adds stability and protects the spine.
  • Selecting a weight that challenges you without sacrificing your form is important. It’s better to perform the exercise correctly with a lighter weight than to risk injury with a heavier weight.
  • Focus on creating Mind-Muscle Connection. Focus on squeezing and contracting the muscles as you press up. This enhances muscle activation.

Sets And Reps

The number of sets per week is based on your fitness level. The number of sets per week for a beginner is less than that for an advanced.  

However, the number of reps depends on the goals you want to achieve to build muscle strength and boost endurance.  

But still maintainable with proper form.

  • For muscle building, use a moderately heavy weight.
  • For strength building, choose a heavier weight that makes the last rep of each set very challenging. .
  • For endurance training, choose a light to moderate weight that can do 15–20 reps.
GoalSetsRepsRest(sec b/w sets)
Strength Building3-54-690-120
Muscle Building (Hypertrophy)3-48-1260-90 
Endurance and Toning2-312-2030-60
General Fitness or Maintenance38-1060-90 

Best Variations of Wide Grip Chest Press

The wide-grip barbell press can be done in different ways to suit your fitness level and your choice.

If you are new to performing a wide-grip bench press, you may want to apply a few modifications to make the exercise easier. One way is to use a lighter weight.

If you want to work different muscle fibers in the chest, try to incline and decline the wide grip barbell press. You can make it more difficult by using heavier weights. But focus on form while doing the same.

1. Incline Wide Grip Bench Press

The incline wide-grip bench press is a variation of the barbell bench press.

Wherein the bench is positioned at an incline of 30–45 degrees and the barbell is held at a distance greater than shoulder-width apart.

This emphasis is more on the upper chest muscles, including front shoulders and tricep muscles, than the standard bench press due to bench position and hand placement on the barbell.

Wide Grip Incline Barbell Bench Press

How To Do Close Grip Incline Bench Press

  • Lie on an incline bench set to around 30–45 degrees.
  • Grab the barbell with a wider grip that is wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Inhale and lower the barbell towards your upper chest.
  • Exhale and push the barbell to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8–10 reps and 3–4 sets.


  • Keep the barbell in the line of your wrist and elbows, and ensure it moves straight.
  • If you are new to this exercise, start with a lighter weight to learn proper form and technique.
  • Avoid bouncing the barbell off your chest.

2. Decline Wide Grip Bench Press

The decline wide-grip bench press is a great variation to target the lower portion of the chest.

A wider grip stance emphasizes the outer portion of the chest muscle more, giving your chest muscles a full and dense look.

The decline position is easier on the shoulders, so it’s a good choice for people with shoulder problems.

Wide Grip Decline Barbell Bench Press

How To Do Decline Close Grip Bench Press

  • Adjust the decline bench to a 15-30 degree angle.
  • Lie flat on a decline bench and hook your feet underneath the pad
  • Grip the barbell with a wide grip.
  • Unrack the bar, hold it directly above your chest, and retract your shoulder.
  • Inhale and lower the bar slowly to your lower chest.
  • Exhale and press the bar back up to the starting position.
  • Complete the desired number of repetitions.


  • A very steep decline can increase the risk of sliding or discomfort.
  • Use a spotter or racks to handle heavier weights safely.
  • Maintain a neutral neck position; avoid straining or hyperextending your neck.

3. Smith Machine Wide-Grip Bench Press

The Smith Machine Bench Press is a popular exercise in the gym that can help you lift heavier weights without a spotter. 

It’s more stable than a barbell, so it’s easier to focus on muscle contractions instead of balancing the bar. 

The barbell on the Smith machine has a set path, which can be helpful for people who are new to the exercise or want to lift more weight.

Smith Machine Wide-Grip Bench Press

How To Do Smith Machine Wide Grip Press

  • Position a bench under the Smith machine.
  • Lie down on the bench and Grab the barbell with a wider grip.
  • Lift the bar off the rack by twisting it and straighten your arms to lift it off the hooks.
  • Inhale and lower the bar slowly towards the middle of your chest,
  • Exhale and press the bar back up, focusing on using your triceps and chest muscles.


  • You should be cautious about how much weight you use, especially if you are new to the exercise.
  • Set up the bench directly underneath the barbell so the bar path is perfectly vertical.

Wide Grip Barbell Press Benefits

You might be motivated to do the wide-grip barbell press exercise for several reasons, and below, I’ve mentioned a few of them.

  • The wide-grip bench press benefits powerlifters and those with limited flexibility by offering a shorter range of motion due to wider arm placement. This allows lifters to handle heavier weights, which is useful in strength-based competitions.
  • It reduced shoulder instability, eased barbell movement, and lowered injury risk. This stability allows for more repetitions, aiding muscular hypertrophy, as the stabilizer muscles tire less quickly.
  • The wide grip press emphasizes the outer chest more than the standard press, which benefits overall chest development.
  • The anterior deltoids (front shoulder) effectively engage during this movement, which results in shoulder development.
  • A compound movement lets you lift a heavier weight, which means you can build more muscle and strength.
  • This exercise challenges core stability and coordination, which increases core stability and balance.
  • It helps athletes improve their pressing strength in powerlifting. The exercise builds strength by stimulating muscle growth and coordination.
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Is The Wide Grip Bench Press A Compound Exercise?

Yes, the wide-grip bench press is a compound movement. It targets the tricep, chest, and shoulder muscles. 

It is a very effective way to strengthen your upper body. 

What Is The Ideal Grip Width For A Wide-Grip Bench Press?

The right grip for a wide-grip bench press depends on your body’s anatomy and flexibility.

  • A slightly wider than shoulder-width-apart grip is the perfect starting point for most people.
  • Try with different grip widths to see what suits you, and you feel most comfortable.


Wide grip bench presses, such as the Incline, decline, and Smith machines, are powerful exercises for building upper body strength, especially in the triceps and chest.

If you like to do strength sports or go to the gym often, you should add the close grip chest press to your workout routine. You will feel the results for yourself.

Do you have any questions or tips about the wide-grip barbell press? Share them in the comments below!

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