Which stance/grip is best?

This is a question I got a little while ago. It was in relation to pull ups and whether an underhand or overhand grip is more effective. The answer, like pretty much every other answer in the gym, is that it depends on the context. However, the principle behind that answer carries over to many other movements as well.

“The answer, like pretty much every other answer in the gym, is that it depends on the context.”

So, with every movement we do in the gym we’ll have various different styles of doing those movements. Think squatting with a narrower stance versus a wider stance, deadlifting in a sumo position versus a normal position, bench pressing with a wide hand position versus a narrower hand position, doing pull ups with an overhand versus underhand grip or using dumbbells in a neutral (knuckles out) versus a pronated (knuckles back) position. These are just a few examples and there are literally hundreds.

For each person with each movement they’ll have a position which feels more comfortable and is more efficient than another. More often than not this preferred position will fall somewhere in between traditional positions. For example, most people will squat with an “in-between” stance. Not really narrow but not really wide either. This is completely normal and will differ from person to person. This position is where we’re able to produce the most force and do it the safest.

“More often than not this preferred position will fall somewhere in between traditional positions.”

Over time, what tends to happen is that we forget about the other positions. We stay in our preferred stance/grip and develop those muscles really well but we neglect the muscles that we’d hit in slightly different positions. Years of forgetting about these other muscles can lead to injury.

So, which stance/grip is the best? The answer really is all of them. While the majority of our work should be done in our preferred positions, adding in a few extra sets in positions you don’t usually use will be beneficial in the long run.

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