One of the best and most convenient exercises that you can do is the push-up because this can be done anywhere and at any time, and will really work your chest and arm muscles in particular.
You don’t need any kind of equipment and you don’t even need to change into your workout gear because you can just drop to the floor and push out 10-20 reps (or as many as you can manage) whenever you want.
There are actually many different variations of the push-up that you can do, including single arm and elevated push-ups, for example, but in this article I want to discuss the difference between wide grip and close grip push-ups because these will each work different muscle groups to varying degrees.
Wide Grip Push-Ups
Most people will tend to place their hands on the floor approximately shoulder width apart, and this standard grip is perfect if you want to work your triceps, shoulders and chest muscles.
However if you move your arms a little further apart to adopt a wide grip, you will find that it is your chest that is doing most of the work.
So if you are looking to develop your pecs and want to build a bigger, stronger chest, a wide-grip push-up will be more beneficial than a standard push-up.
Narrow Grip Push-Ups
If you take up the standard position and bring your arms in so that they are just a few inches apart, you will find that this narrow grip variation of the push-up feels a lot different (and is harder to do).
That’s because this one places more emphasis on the inner most part of your pectoral muscles, and makes your triceps and deltoids work a lot harder than a conventional push-up.
So if your triceps need a little work, or if your inner chest muscles are a little underdeveloped, for example, you might want to perform this narrow grip push-up instead of the standard or wide grip variation.
Which One Is More Effective?
It is hard to say which one is better than the other because they both target different muscle groups. Your preferred choice of push-up should ultimately depend on whether you want to focus more on your chest muscles or your triceps and shoulders.
In fact it is a good idea to use a combination of narrow, standard and wide grips when performing this exercise because this will help target a number of different muscle groups in your arms, shoulders, back and chest.
However to answer the original question, it is worth referencing this clinical study from 2005 because the close grip push-up was found to induce greater muscle activation.