In a new YouTube video, bodybuilding coach Eugene Teo breaks down a bench press variation that can be used to boost your chest day gains—if you do it right. And it's as simple as changing your hand positioning on the bar.
If your goal is to increase the amount of weight that you can load onto the bar in pursuit of a PR, then you'll likely want to stick with the overhand grip. However, if you are aiming to build greater strength, then Teo suggests switching that grip to underhand.
"When you bring your hands from an overhand grip to an underhand grip, your elbows naturally tuck in a lot more. For most people, having a slightly narrower, tucked elbow position will allow for more range of motion, stability, and strength on all their presses over a wider, flared position."
In creating a longer low-to-high bar path, the underhand grip arguably helps to engage the upper chest more fully than the overhand, a theory which is supported by a small amount of research.
Teo notes that this position can be more comfortable for anyone who experiences shoulder pain while doing the bench press, however, it is also definitely a more advanced option—if you're a beginner, try the overhand version.
"You shouldn't be lifting the weight with your wrists extended way back, just like you wouldn't on a regular grip," he says. "In terms of placement, the bar should rest on your palm on a slight angle. And there will be a different amount of pressure placed on your wrists for radial and ulnar deviation, which might expose an area of weakness—but this isn't a bad thing, it's a huge advantage to the lift."
But just because you're placing less weight on the bar, don't expect it to feel easy. Teo explains how he has incorporated this lift variation into his chest workout over the last 12 months not just to develop his pecs, but because while it is challenging in terms of technique, it forces him to lift lighter, enabling him to focus on achieving the correct form and build up his wrist strength on every single rep without risk of injury.