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Posted by Scott_Herman - June 27th, 2019

Today we’re going to focus on fixing your hand grip on some of your favorite exercises in the gym. It might not seem all that important, but believe it or not, proper hand placement when performing an exercise can be the difference between not only avoiding an injury, but actually targeting the intended muscles the exercise is supposed to train.

Now it may take some time for you to apply all the changes in this video, but don’t get discouraged. If you’ve been performing an exercise a specific way for a long time, your body has now adapted to what you’ve been doing. So when you start making corrections, it’s not unusual to feel weaker at first. But in time you will be stronger than ever!

1. The Close Grip Bench Press

First up is the Close-Grip Bench Press (CGBP) and I have to be honest and say that for a LONG TIME, I made this grip mistake. In fact, I think the majority of us who went to the gym “pre YouTube” started out doing CCBP with terrible form and the bad hand placement in question is when your hands are super close together in the middle of the barbell.

Now, this is bad for MANY reasons…

  • Having to balance the barbell with your hands this close is wasted energy that could go toward more reps and weight.
  • You will tend to bench more over your chest, instead of your core which is the proper range of motion to target your triceps.
  • This grip forces your elbows to be flared OUT instead of close to the sides of your torso.

  • And, if you think in terms of the path of least resistance in order to lift as heavy as you can, with your hands in this position, you’re placing a lot of that pushing force in your elbows and wrists which can over time lead to wrist and elbow pain.

So why do people do this? Well, I think it comes down to that most people associate a wider grip with the bench press because they don’t really have a proper understanding of the movement pattern of the barbell when performing a CGBP. The CGBP isn’t the same exact form of a barbell bench press with just your hands closer guys. In fact, in order to execute the movement, you need to tuck your elbows in and press up over your torso, which is very different from a regular bench press. So lower the weight, fix your grip and start FINALLY utilizing this amazing exercise the correct way.

2. The Bench Press

The 2nd exercise is the bench press! But this is more for safety rather than being “bad form” and what I am referring to is using a false-grip, also known as a suicide-grip.  For those of you who don’t know, a suicide-grip is when you place your thumb on the same side as the rest of your fingers when gripping the barbell and if executed correctly, it can help reduce the amount of internal rotation and flared "elbows out" position that happens when using a traditional grip, or thumb around the barbell.

But the problem is that most people do not know how to execute this grip properly and as a result can seriously injure themselves if the barbell slips out of their hands, potentially crushing their face or neck.


That’s why it is also known as a suicide-grip.

Now if you guys would like a video on how to properly use the false-grip when benching, I would be more than happy to film a tutorial.

But in the meantime, your best bet is to stay safe, work on your shoulder flexibility, and use a traditional grip when benching, especially if you don’t have a spotter. You’ll have A LOT more control over the weight with a traditional grip and it’s a lot easier to continue to make gains when you’re not dead…from bahhbells.  

3. The Hammer Curl

Next up is the hammer curl. I know, not a hard exercise to execute right? Well, there is always room for improvement and if I can help you lift just a BIT heavier, that’s what I’m going to do!

So, in most cases we just walk over to the rack, grab a pair of dumbbells and then it’s off to the races.

But pay attention next time to your hand placement when you grab your dumbbells. It’s instinctive to grab them in the middle because that’s the easiest way to hold them balanced in your hands. But grabbing in the middle means there will be a lot of wasted energy on your forearms as you try to keep this grip and complete your reps.

So as soon as you’re about to begin your first set, loosen your hands a bit and slide them up to the top of the dumbbell. This way the upper plate can rest a bit on your hands and you won’t have to squeeze the handle so hard to hold the weight.

I know, it’s a simple adjustment, but it will really come in handy when your grip is fatiguing and you still have 3 – 4 reps left in the tank!

4. The Barbell Squat

The 4th exercise is the barbell back squat and I actually just released a really great video going over all the pain points of the squat that could be preventing you from going full range of motion and how to fix them. So if you missed that video, I will link to it HERE.

But let’s dive a bit more into hand placement here. It’s super important, whether high or low bar squatting, that the barbell is securely placed and held on your back and shoulders. If not, as you perform the movement there’s a good chance the barbell WILL move which can throw off your entire set. Loose grip is not only dangerous, but can also impede the maximum amount of weight you CAN lift.

So when you set up for your next squat, try your best to keep a narrow grip and your wrists neutral. This is going to be the best way to make sure the barbell is secure the entire set.

So it should go without saying that if you can’t quite get to a narrow grip, do the best you can while continuously working on your shoulder and wrist flexibility week to week.

5. The Upright Row

Alright, so the final exercise we are going to cover today is the upright row. NOW, before everyone gets upset AGAIN, let me just make things VERY CLEAR. I have ZERO shoulder pain and no previous injuries impeding my ability to perform this exercise correctly. So if you DO, it is 100% OK to switch to dumbbells and at this point, the hand placement doesn’t even matter.  

But if you’re like me and really enjoy performing this exercise with a barbell, here is what you need to do. Firstly, when I use the upright row, I’m never OVERLOADING with this exercise. In fact, it should never be used that way. I only use it for high volume sets and to be honest, it’s probably because of this that I’ve never had any issues with this exercise.  

You see, most people end up hurting themselves because they grab the barbell with their hands super-close together and this grip allows you to pull more weight, but not necessarily target your rear delts and shoulders more.

All this really accomplishes is internal shoulder rotation which leads to shoulder impingement and a future injury. To execute the movement properly, you need to grab the barbell with a wide-grip so that as you get to the top of the movement, you can pull your elbows back and down to properly target your traps and deltoids.  So if you can’t do this even with a barbell, then switch to dumbbells and once again continue to work on your shoulder flexibility.


I hope this video helps you lift with better form in the gym and remember that when applying these tips you WILL need to lower the weight. But I guarantee that once you nail down the proper grip, how much weight you can lift in all your working sets will go up!

Related Videos:


6 Tips For Bigger Forearms & More Grip Strength! | FULL FOREARM WORKOUT INCLUDED!

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