Exercise Technique - Grip width! How wide should you hold the barbell?
Width matters when we are talking about how wide you should hold the barbell for different exercises. There are 3 different grip widths namely shoulder width a.k.a. common/normal width, narrow grip, and wide grip. Your hands should be positioned in such a way that the bar is balanced and perfectly even on both sides. Grip width can highly affect the muscle activation pattern of any exercise, even more than the hand gripping technique. Changing grip width can change the leverages at which the body lifts weights which can also result in changing the level of difficulty for respective exercise. That’s why it is important to choose the right width according to the body structure, musculature, preference and safety of an individual. For example - Different grip widths for the bench press can change the purpose of the exercise completely. If performed with a close grip, tricep activation is more due to change in the biomechanics of the movement. Similarly, if the grip is too wide then the stress could be more on the shoulder joint rather than the target muscles. Many other exercises like lat pulldowns, deadlifts, shoulder press etc. get highly affected by change in grip width. In addition to the three main grips widths, I would like to mention 2 different grips used for the front squats - cross grip and clean grip. Cross grip is a good option for beginners and for people with bad wrist mobility. Clean grip is a more stable and safer grip.