In a new video on the Athlean-X channel, strength coach Jeff Cavaliere C.S.C.S. breaks down a simple but surprisingly effective way to switch up your dumbbell bench press technique to both reduce pain and discomfort in your training, and enable you to lift heavier.
It’s likely, he begins, that you’re utilizing a pretty traditional grip right down middle of the dumbbell. He recommends that you shift your grip just a little bit more towards the end, and focus your squeeze through your thumb and forefinger, wrapping your thumb over your forefinger. Then wrap the rest of your fingers around the bar for support.
“What the wrist position does is, it changes what’s happening at the end of your wrist, and more importantly, setting up the biomechanics of the press to become more efficient and stronger in that press,” he says, explaining that the radius (the bone on the inner side of the forearm) is longer at the end than the ulna, and so gripping the dumbbell in the middle can cause compression where the radius meets the wrist.
“That’s not good, especially if you have wrist pain,” says Cavaliere. “That’s going to feel very uncomfortable.” Instead, by adopting this new grip, you’ll allow a little bit of space between the radius and the wrist, making for a more comfortable position.
Cavaliere adds that the same principle can be applied to a barbell bench press, with one simple modification: “Go a little narrower on your grip,” he says. “The wider I go, the more compression I get at the radial side of the wrist. As I go more and more narrow, I have less compression on that radial side. Find the typical width that’s good for you on a bench press, and then just go a little narrower than that to help offload some of that strain and compression.”
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