Floor or bench press, who cares where your hands are positioned! Right? Wrong!
Whether you’re floor pressing, bench pressing, performing push-ups, pull-ups, or rows, it matters where your hands are placed, it matters a lot. The position of the hands determines the emphasis of muscles worked.
If I come into a gym and get asked to do a bench press, and we all get started while there still is no talk about position of hand placements, I apologise right now for the perplexed look I will give.
Bench pressing or floor pressing, with a wide grip you’re putting the emphasis on the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles, if you’re using a close grip you’re moving the emphasis to the triceps and anterior deltoid, if you’re in between, well, you’re working a bit of both. I program these named as the bench or floor chest-press, hybrid-press, and tricep press. Bang, immediately we all know what we’re doing and what we’re working.
This is why I get specific with naming when I program, no confusion, everyone will be working the same muscle groups evenly. This becomes especially important when you’re doing a WOD and want to make sure you’re not fatiguing the incorrect muscles everyone else is going to use to beat your ass with more reps.
By the way, you can even change to reverse grip for emphasis on the clavicular head of the pectoralis major.
Bench press, where do the injuries occur? At the lowest part of the press. If you’re fresh it’s not so bad, but as you fatigue the risk doubles at the hardest angle of the chest press. Tell me, at what point do you start to feel like you can get injured in a chest press? Your answers in the comments below.
Next, push-ups, I implement the same naming, the push-up is basically the reverse of the bench or floor press, your bodyweight is the resistance and the added complexity is the involvement of the core muscles. Otherwise, it’s the same in regards to naming, chest push-up, hybrid push-up, and triceps push-up.
Tip: have you tried the knuckle push-ups? Great for wrist strength and if you’re having problems with your wrists due to hyperextension.
Pull-ups, another exercise where it matter where your hands are, you can even go close grip here, there is actually a serious difference in what muscles are emphasized with a pull-up, wide grip overhand and you’re working your latissimus dorsi (if you got great MMC), neutral grip with underhand and you’re working your brachialis/biceps/brachioradialis. There is much more, but I won’t bore you with the details.
Same applies to rows, I’ll give you two contrasting examples, bent over row overhand close grip and you’re working your rear delts and pectoralis minor more, go wide grip and you’re putting more emphasis on the trapezius, rhomboids, and infraspinatus, again MMC and technique matters.
Tell me again why you would not care about specific naming!?
If you’re interested in pressing, check out the following book which covers every angle of pressing.