Background: This study compared the muscle activity and six repetition maximum (6-RM) loads in bench press with narrow, medium, and wide grip widths with sub-group comparisons of resistance-trained (RT) and novice-trained (NT) men.
Methods: After two familiarization sessions, twenty-eight subjects lifted their 6-RM loads with the different grip widths with measurement of electromyographic activity.
Results: Biceps brachii activity increased with increasing grip width, whereas wide grip displayed lower triceps brachii activation than medium and narrow. In the anterior deltoid, greater activity was observed using a medium compared to narrow grip. Similar muscle activities were observed between the grip widths for the other muscles. For the RT group, greater biceps brachii activity with increasing grip width was observed, but only greater activity was observed in the NT group between narrow and wide. Comparing wide and medium grip width, the RT group showed lower triceps activation using a wide grip, whereas the NT group showed lower anterior deltoid activation using a narrow compared to medium grip. Both groups demonstrated lower 6-RM loads using a narrow grip compared to the other grips.
Conclusion: Grip widths affect both 6-RM loads and triceps brachii, biceps brachii, and anterior deltoid activity especially between wide and narrow grip widths.
Keywords: EMG; free weights; resistance; strength; training status.