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Bench Press Variations 

By Darren Mehling, CSCS

Thinking outside the box with your bench press grip

QUESTION: What happens when you use a neutral grip instead of forward/overhand grip when bench pressing with dumbbells.

ANSWER: A great variation of the dumbbell bench press is using a neutral hand position or palms facing each other. Using this hand position forces your elbows to travel closer to your torso during the lifting and lowering phases of each rep. In turn, this reduces strain on your shoulder joints and increases the range of motion.

Another benefit of this variation is that it emphasizes more triceps involvement. So, if that’s a weakness for you, this will provide another opportunity for you to hit your triceps.

Lastly, the finished position of this variation will place your hands closer together at the top of each rep. This will help you achieve a strong contraction of the upper chest, which is an area that is commonly difficult to target but is much sought after.

To conclude, if you’re looking to minimize shoulder joint pain while being able to target your triceps and upper pecs, I recommend you give this variation of the dumbbell bench press a try. And while dumbbells are the obvious answer, you can always use a Swiss bar to perform a neutral-grip bench press, provided your gym has one.


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