Wide VS Close Hand Push Ups: What's The Difference

Wide VS Close Hand Push Ups: What's The Difference

January 21, 2016 | Photo credits: Madbarz

Many variations of the Push Up efficiently build muscle and strength in the upper body, but for best results it's important to know the difference.

What is the difference between Wide and Close Hand Push Up variations?

Is one better than the other?

Muscle Activation

Both variations of Push Up use the same muscles, but they create different muscle responses.[1] The pushing mechanics is similar, but the different hand placement creates a change in the intensity of muscle activation.

In general, the narrower (close) hand placement involves higher muscle activation of both, the chest and the triceps. The narrow variation is thereby somewhat harder to do for most people. However, harder also means a bit more risky. It places more stress on the elbows than the wider hand placement and therefore requires an advanced level of strength and control.

The wider hand placement uses chest and triceps as well, but places more emphasize on the outer chest (while the narrow placement targets the inner part of the chest more).

Why you should do both

For a balanced muscle growth of the upper body it's best to combine various hand placements in the same workout. Furthermore, changing the hand position helps you break strength plateaus. The most popular Madbarz routine is a perfect example of a push up workout that shocks and builds your muscle based on this principles. Push ups are awesome, here's why.


How often should you train chest? A 10 day workout plan is a part of the 8-item Platinum Pack. Get yours and see progress in your upper body!


About the Close Hand Push Up

Palms placed narrower than shoulder width, almost touching each other.

Note: Not only the elbow, but also the wrist suffers more stress in the narrow hand placement during push up. If you don't have enough strength or have a limited range of motion in the joints, progress slowly by pushing yourself away from a wall or a bar in standing position.

About the Wide Push Up

Palms placed wider than shoulder width.

Note: Try twisting your palms slightly outward for a more comfortable upward push.

No matter what type of Push Up you do and even if you think it's easy, for optimal results and less risk of injury it's essential to do them with the proper form. The point of the exercise is to go as low as you can and then push back up, but if your form starts breaking at any point, it's better to shorten the descend and develop the necessary strength for a full range of motion.

Basics for all Push Up variations

Squeeze core and glutes to create a straight line from head to heel and maintain the tightness for stability throughout the whole exercise. Keep elbows close to body during movement, don't let them flare out. Shoulders should not be shrugged toward the ears as you go down. Breath in as you go down, breathe out as you push back up.

Takeaway: Push your limits. Master all push up variations.

And don't forget to work on your shoulders, too.