Multi grip swiss bars are great tools for the bench press exercise. Find out what changes by using these equipment options.
Compared to barbell bench presses, the swiss bar version helps you keep your upper arms at angles that lower your injury risk.
Another benefit is that most people will find multi grip swiss bar bench presses more comfortable on their wrists.
You could also use dumbbells to get similar benefits but these require more shoulder stabilization muscle engagement. Not everyone is interested in this.
The main downside of this version of the bench press is that a swiss bar requires an extra investment if you don’t have one yet.
How to do a swiss bar bench press
To do the swiss bar bench press you need a good multi grip swiss bar, weight plates, a weight bench, and preferably a bar rack.
Once you have these things, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Load the racked swiss bar with the desired weight.
- Lie down on the weight bench with your shoulder blades pulled back and down. Place your hands on the handles that align with your training goals. When in doubt, hold the handles that are about shoulder-width apart.
- Unrack the swiss bar by pushing it up and moving it to above your chest. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched and pointing up.
- Slowly lower the swiss bar as far as comfortable. Your upper arms should be at angles of about 45 degrees or less to your sides.
- Push the swiss bar back up in the position of step 3 in a controlled motion.
In theory, you can also do multi grip swiss bar bench presses without a bar rack but this will require extra effort to get into position.
The main thing to keep in mind during this exercise is the angles of your upper arms. This helps you avoid injuries and influences the muscles you work.
If you keep your upper arms closer to your body than 45 degrees, you will focus more on your tricep and shoulder muscles and less on your chest muscles.
The neutral/angled handles of swiss bars typically guide your upper arms closer to your body than the regular barbell bench press.
Because the tricep muscles are typically weaker than the chest muscles, the swiss bar bench is slightly harder for most people. Adjust the weight you use as needed.
To play it safe you can start light and build up from there.
Swiss bar bench press muscles worked
The main muscles swiss bar bench presses work are your chest, triceps, and front deltoids (shoulders).
You can potentially work these muscles in different ratios than the regular bench press.
This is because the angles of your upper arms can vary with of the width and type of the swiss handles you hold and how much you influence the upper arm angles yourself.
The closer you keep your upper arms to your sides, the more you work your triceps and shoulders and the less you work your chest muscles compared to a regular 45-degree angle barbell bench press.
You can also easily implement these upper arm angles with dumbbells. Even so, compared to this equipment choice, multi grip swiss bars work your shoulder stabilization muscles less.
Keep in mind that you still need enough resistance, repetitions, and sets to grow and strengthen the muscles above with multi grip swiss bar bench presses.
Swiss bar bench press benefits
Many people will experience benefits by choosing a swiss bar instead of a barbell in the bench press exercise. A few of these include:
- Can reduce injury risk: An important area of bench press technique is keeping your upper arms at the right angles. Multi grip swiss bars guide you towards these angles which in turn can lower your injury risk.
- Keeps things interesting: Some people get a bit bored after doing the same workout over and over. If that applies to you, using a swiss bar every once in a while could make things more interesting and improve consistency.
- Can improve wrist comfort: The neutral and/or angled handles make it easier to keep your hands straight up and reduce wrist twisting required to hold the bar. Most people will find this more comfortable on their wrists than a straight barbell bench press.
- Fits different body sides: Your shoulder width is not necessarily the same as someone else. Because swiss bars have so many handles to choose from, most people will be able to choose a pair that aligns with their body sizes and training goals.
- Works main muscles in a different ratio: Using a multi grip swiss bar for bench presses often leads to more focus on the triceps and shoulders and less focus on the chest muscles. Whether this is actually a benefit or downside depends on your training goals.
- Works stabilization muscles less: Multi grip swiss bar bench presses work your shoulder stabilization muscles less than dumbbell bench presses. This can help you work the main muscles as much as possible. Again, not everyone will find this a benefit.
Bench presses are a great movement to get the benefits of multi grip swiss bars. Especially for people with sensitive shoulders.
At the same time, there are cases where someone would still want to do regular bench presses. For example, if this person has a competition coming up where the standard bench press is used.
Swiss bar bench press alternatives
The combination of benefits for the bench press is somewhat unique to swiss bars.
However, there are also alternative ways to work your chest, tricep, and front deltoids in ways with less injury risk. Some of these exercises include:
- Bench presses with equipment like dumbbells, bands, kettlebells, etc.
- Chest fly
- Front raises
- Tricep extension variations
Which of these multi grip siwss bar bench press alternatives is right for you depends on things like your training goals and equipment options.
Even though they typically involve a lower injury risk than the regular version, multi grip swiss bar bench presses can still be challenging for your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
If you have (a history of) issues in these areas, you want to be very careful when doing this exercise and potentially talk to an expert first.
It is possible that you notice any aches or pains during the movement. In that case, you are likely doing something suboptimal.
This can mean you have to change your workout routine, implement better lifestyle habits, and/or improve your technique.
Is the multi grip swiss bar bench press a good exercise?
The multi grip swiss bar bench press is a great exercise for working your chest, triceps, and front deltoids in a way that is likely more comfortable for your shoulders and wrists.
Additionally, you may find it fun to switch up your bench press equipment every once in a while. In some cases, this can even lead to slightly more training results.
One potential downside is the fitness budget you need to use this specialty barbell. The many multi grip swiss bar exercises make the bar more worth it but even then you will have to make a decent investment.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the different angles of the handles may guide your upper arms to different positions.
The different muscle engagement this comes with is not necessarily bad but it is worth noting.
Can you bench more with a swiss bar?
Since it becomes easier to do a more tricep-focused version, you can typically not bench more with a swiss bar.
Is the swiss bar bench easier?
The swiss bar bench tends to be equally hard or harder because it is easy to start doing a more tricep-focused variation.