Close-grip vrs Wide-grop on Military Presses

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Matt Z

Close-grip vrs Wide-grop on Military Presses

Post by Matt Z » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:58 pm

I've met a lot of guys who prefer doing Military Presses (standing or seated) with a wide grip (aproximately bench press width), because a wide grip supposedly involves the side delts (lateral head) more than a narrow grip. I can understand how this might be the case with a behind-the-neck press or a dumbbell press with the elbows out to the sides, however I'm a little sceptical with Militarys. This is because people tend to lean backwards while performing Militarys with a wide grip (both to avoid hiting themselves in the face with the bar and to recruit the upper pecks to help move the weight). For example, today I saw a guy doing Seated Military Presses with his hips slid way foreward, and leaning back so far he might as well have been doing an Incline Bench Press.

Anyway, I was wondering what you folks think about this one. Does a wide-grip on Military Presses work the side delts more, or merely allow one to use more weight by recruiting the pectorals (clavicular head).

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Post by Ryan A » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:08 pm

Well my question for you is how do you do a military press without leaning back a little bit. In order to press straight up you have to get your face out of the way.

Another thing with the wider grip is it resembles more closely an olympic press grip, reducing range of motion and getting muscles in stronger position.

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Post by DubDub » Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:01 pm

I use hands just wider than shoulders (so that my thumbs can rest on shoulders if need be). I'm mostly a beginner at shoulder lifts like military/shoulder presses.


Post by Guest » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:02 am

My grip is pretty wide for the military press, but it's also the only lift I wear a belt for, which kind of forces proper posture for the lift. But I mean...if you concentrate on keeping form, you will.

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Post by rexallxp » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:07 am

Above post was me.

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Fri Mar 31, 2006 5:43 pm

I use a fairly narrow overhand grip on Military Presses, with my thumbs directly in front of my shoulder joints at the bottom of the movement. This keeps my elbows fairly far forward, so I don't have to lean back at all, or tip my head back to keep from hitting myself in the chin. Also, I lift the weight in an arch so the bar starts in front of my throat and ends up directly overhead at full extension.

I've seen a lot of guys use the same grip on Military Presses that they use on Behind-the-neck Presses (which I don't do).


Post by JeffD » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:07 pm

I dont know for sure, but ill take a stab and say the closer the grip the more the triceps are activated (similar to the bench press).

I dont do military presses very often but when i do i have to use a closer grip. Anything wide aggrevates a previous shoulder injury i had.

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:19 pm

Not sure about that. The triceps ARE worked more on close-grip bench presses, but so are the front delts since the elbows are closer to the body. Not sure how that would translate to overhead presses.


Post by JeffD » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:29 pm

I wouldve thought the front delts were worked more with a wider grip. Always have soreness there the next day, but when i do close grip its usually not sore..


Post by JeffD » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:30 pm

Talking about bench press grip in the above post..

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:34 pm

How close are your close-grips? I keep my hands just slightly wider than my ribcage (close enough for my thumbs to touch).

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:36 pm

Also, how much lighter are you close grips?


Post by JeffD » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:44 pm

My thumbs are a few inches outside my ribcage. I have my index finger directly on the part of the bar where the smooth part ends and the rough part (whatever its called) begins. Any closer and i start feeling strain on my wrists.

My close grips arent much lighter, maybe 15 or 20 lbs less than what id use for my regular grip.

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:50 pm

I do close grips with my index and middle finger on the smooth part and my ring finger and pinkie on the knurling. I go about 50 lbs lighter for and equal number (8) of reps (225 lbs vrs 275 lbs).

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:58 pm

Close-grip and regular bench presses both work front delts pretty hard, but with a wider grip the pectorals can do most of the work. With a close-grip your front delts and triceps have to do most of the work, which is also why you can't go as heavy. Also, a wider grip equals a shorter range of motion, which is why most powerlifters use a super-wide grip to move as much weight as possible.