How to Perform the Close Grip Bench Press

How to Perform the Close Grip Bench Press

Close grip bench press falls into the category of compound exercises i.e it targets more than one muscle.  The primary muscle target of this exercise are your triceps, whereas the secondary muscles that work as a result of this exercise are your chest and shoulders. It is one of the most famous exercises performed by body builders, weight trainers and power lifters. It is also considered to be one of the most efficient exercises for increasing triceps mass. The equipment used is the same as that used in a flat chest press: barbell, flat bench or smith machine and weights.

How to Do Close Grip Bench Press

Just like with any other exercise, for you to reap the benefits of close grip bench press, you should learn the perfect form. This ensures not only the effectiveness of the exercise but also safety. 

  • Lie down on a flat bench, preferably under a smith machine. If you don’t have the smith machine, you can use the flat bench with a power rack or ask a spotter to stand behind you.
  • Adjust the bar on the correct level of the rack, load the weight which you are comfortable with. If this is the first time you are doing it, it is better to do it just with the bar or with light weights.
  • Lie down on the bench so that the bar is right above your eyes.
  • The distance between you and the barbell should be at the correct level i.e it should be within an easy reach. 
  • Grab the bar with your fingers rolled over the bar and your thumbs holding the bar from the opposite side.
  • Lift up the bar from the rack and stretch your hands upward so that they are straight. 
  • Bring the bar down slowly towards your middle chest, while inhaling throughout. 
  • Exhale, straighten your hands while pushing the bar upwards. 
  • Do as many repetitions as you easily can or as prescribed in your training routine. 
  • Do 3-4 sets with progressive overload.

Important Tips

  • It is always better to use the smith machine, especially when you are new to weight training. If you are a newbie try doing the exercise with the barbell without adding weights. 
  • Do not jerk the weight upwards, start with light tolerable weight. 
  • Use standard grip by encircling your fingers around the barbell and keeping your thumbs on the opposite side of your fingers. 
  • Do not tuck in your elbows completely or open them entirely while performing this exercise.
  • Keep them tucked in only to an angle of 30-45 degrees. Observe proper breathing during exercise to maximize your gains.
  • Use weight lifting wrist wraps to reduce the pressure on your wrists.
  • Drink coffee for warm up . Moderate caffeine dose can enhance your performance.
  • If you feel too much pressure on your wrists try performing the exercise with an EZ bar.

Benefits

  • It is a  compound exercise that provides you with a whole body workout.
  • Strengthens your triceps and with proper diet it can contribute greatly towards increasing the mass of your triceps.
  • Performing close grip bench press regularly will also improve your pectroalis muscles and your lats.
  • Regular and correct performance of this exercise will strengthen your elbows and improve their range of motion.
  • Close grip bench press can facilitate you in relaxing stressed shoulders.
  • Close grip bench press will improve your body balance when done in conjunction with other exercises.
  • Performing this exercise will make your wrists stronger and increase their rotational strength as well.
  • The exercise is specifically beneficial for power training, weightlifters, crossfit and strongman training.

Variations

The close grip bench press has a few variations. Although for maximum results we recommend following the original version discussed above. However, if you are new to weight training then it would be a good idea to start with the below mentioned variations as they would be relatively easier on your body.

Close Grip Push-ups

Get into the push- up position. Instead of using a wide grip, keep your palms flat on the floor, spread them as wide as your shoulders. Keeping your elbows close to your body, lower your body towards the ground. Just when your triceps are at an angle of 45 degrees from the floor, pause and return to the starting position.

Close Grip Dumbbell Press

You can also perform this exercise using dumbbells instead of barbells. Grab a set of dumbbells, lie down on the bench, keeping your dumbbells above and parallel to your chest, facing each other and keeping them shoulder width apart, lift them up to straighten your arms, inhale.  Exhale and lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

Close Grip Barbell Floor Press

You will need a spotter while performing this variation. As the name suggests, you will lie down on the floor with your back flat and your knees bent at an angle of 45 degrees from the floor. Ask the spotter to hand over the barbell to you, grip the bar. The distance between your palms should not be more than the width of your shoulders. Lower the barbell till your triceps rest on the floor, repeat the movement. This is a good variation for those who cannot seem to perfect the form of their elbows or who have any sprain in their elbows.

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press with Underhand Grip

This variation should be performed by advanced users. Using a smith machine power rack, load the desired wait on the barbell and lie down on the bench. Instead of an overhand grip use an underhand grip and grab the barbell. Your hands should be shoulder width apart. The barbell should be right above your middle chest. Lower the bar and keep your elbows tucked in, but not exactly touching your body. Without bouncing the bar or jerking it, raise the bar so that your arms become completely straight. Repeat as per your workout schedule.

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