Close Grip Bench Press: How to Perform, Benefits & Expert Tips 

The close grip bench press is a terrific exercise that can bring a plethora of benefits when done right. 

This bench press can blow up your chest, triceps, and shoulders while protecting your joints, and in some ways, it is superior to the flat bench. 

Let’s dive right into it and take a look at how to perform the close grip bench press, the benefits that come from performing this exercise, and some expert tips.  

What Is the Close Grip Bench Press? 

The close grip bench press is a variation of the traditional bench press exercise that specifically targets the triceps muscles in your upper arms while also engaging your chest and shoulders.  

As the name suggests, this exercise involves using a narrower grip on the barbell, placing your hands closer together than in a standard bench press.  

By reducing the width of your grip, you shift the focus from your chest to your triceps, making it an excellent choice for those looking to strengthen and develop their arm muscles. 

It is also worth noting that it still does a pretty good job of building the chest.  

This is exactly why the close grip bench press is a favourite among bodybuilders and aesthetic athletes.  

How to Do Close Grip Bench Press 

Here is a step-by-step guide to close grip bench press form: 

  1. Start by lying flat on a bench, with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Ensure your back, shoulders, and buttocks are in contact with the bench for stability. 
  1. Reach for the barbell and grip it with your hands positioned slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing forward or slightly angled inward. 
  1. Lift the barbell off the rack and hold it directly above your chest, with your arms fully extended. This is your starting position. 
  1. Inhale and slowly lower the barbell towards your chest, keeping your elbows tucked close to your body. Lower the bar until it lightly touches your lower chest or the point just above it. 
  1. Pause for a brief moment, then exhale as you push the barbell back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms. 
  1. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, ensuring you maintain control and proper form throughout. 

Benefits of Close Grip Bench Press 

Triceps Development: One of the most significant close grip bench press benefits is that it places a significant emphasis on your triceps. By working this muscle group, you can enhance arm strength and size, leading to more defined and sculpted arms. 

Increased Lockout Strength: The close grip bench press targets the triceps’ lockout phase, which is vital in various exercises like the overhead press, push-ups, and dips. Strengthening this aspect of your triceps can help you improve your performance in these exercises. 

Enhanced Bench Press: The close grip bench press can also have a positive impact on your overall bench press strength. Strengthening the triceps, which are heavily involved in the lockout phase of the bench press, can lead to increased power and the ability to lift heavier weights. 

Versatile Training Option: Adding variety to your training regimen is crucial for continuous progress. The close grip bench press offers a valuable alternative to the standard bench press, allowing you to target your muscles from different angles and stimulate growth. 

How to Master the Close Grip Bench Press 

Find the Right Grip: Experiment with different hand positions to determine the grip width that feels most comfortable and allows you to maintain proper form. Generally, a grip slightly narrower than shoulder-width works well for most people. However, individual anatomy and preferences may vary, so find what works best for you. 

Maintain Proper Form: Lie flat on the bench with your feet planted firmly on the floor for stability. Keep your back, shoulders, and buttocks in contact with the bench throughout the exercise. Tuck your elbows close to your sides as you lower the bar, ensuring they don’t flare out excessively. This technique puts the focus on the triceps and minimizes strain on the shoulders. 

Control the Descent: Lower the barbell under control, avoiding any rapid or jerky movements. Aim to bring the barbell down to the lower part of your chest or just above it, maintaining tension in the triceps throughout the movement. 

Drive with the Triceps: As you push the barbell back up to the starting position, focus on engaging your triceps to initiate the movement. Fully extend your arms without locking your elbows to keep tension on the triceps. 

Breathe Properly: Inhale deeply as you lower the barbell and exhale forcefully as you push it back up. Breathing correctly helps stabilize your core and maintain control throughout the exercise. 

Other Variations of Close Grip Bench Press 

Use an EZ Bar 

An EZ bar is a curved barbell with angled grips, making it more comfortable on the wrists.  

Using an EZ bar for close grip bench press allows for a more natural hand position and can alleviate wrist discomfort.  

The exercise remains the same as the traditional close grip bench press, focusing on triceps engagement. 

Use Dumbbells 

Doing the close grip bench press with dumbbells press offers several advantages.  

It allows for a greater range of motion and provides a unilateral training effect, ensuring balanced strength development between both arms.  

Lie on a flat bench, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other, and perform the bench press motion, keeping your elbows close to your sides. 

If you want to get close grip bench press dumbbell triceps, this is the only way to do it.  

Increase Resistance 

Add Weight: Gradually increase the weight you lift during the close grip bench press. Start with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with proper form and gradually add more weight as you become stronger and more comfortable. 

Incorporate Resistance Bands: Attach resistance bands to the ends of the barbell or use them in conjunction with dumbbells. This additional tension throughout the movement intensifies the challenge and engages the muscles further. 

Try Tempo Training: Slow down the lowering phase of the exercise by counting to three or four as you lower the barbell to your chest. This prolonged time under tension enhances muscle activation and can promote strength gains. 

Alternative Exercises For Close-grip Bench Press 

Incline Dumbbell Bench With Palms Facing In 

This exercise targets the triceps and upper chest muscles. Set an incline bench to a moderate angle, grab a pair of dumbbells, and position yourself with your palms facing each other.  

Lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest, and then press them back up while focusing on engaging your triceps and upper chest. 

Chest Dip 

The chest dip is excellent for developing both chest and triceps strength. Find a dip station or use parallel bars, grip them firmly, and lower your body by bending your elbows.  

Go as low as you comfortably can, then push yourself back up by extending your arms. Keep your torso upright and avoid excessive leaning forward to maintain proper form. 

Reverse-grip Bench Press 

This variation shifts the focus from the triceps to the upper chest and front deltoids. 

Lie on a flat bench and grasp the barbell with an underhand grip (palms facing towards you).  

Lower the barbell towards your upper chest and press it back up, focusing on engaging your upper chest and shoulders throughout the movement. 

Common Mistakes 

Not Using a Spotter or Smith Machine 

Close-grip bench press can be demanding, especially when lifting heavy weights. It’s crucial to have a spotter or use a Smith machine for safety.  

A spotter can provide assistance if you struggle with the weight, and a smith machine offers built-in safety features to catch the barbell if you can’t complete a repetition. 

Bouncing Bar Off Your Chest 

Avoid bouncing the barbell off your chest to generate momentum.  

This not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise but can also strain your joints and increase the risk of injury.  

Maintain control throughout the movement, touching your chest lightly before smoothly pressing the barbell back up. 

Not Using Proper Grip 

Ensure your hands are positioned evenly on the barbell with a firm grip.  

A narrow grip may feel challenging, but a grip that’s too wide can place unnecessary strain on your shoulders and limit the triceps engagement.  

Experiment with different grip widths to find the one that feels comfortable and allows for proper form. 

Lifting Hips Off the Bench 

Keep your entire body firmly planted on the bench throughout the exercise. Lifting your hips off the bench reduces stability and diminishes the effectiveness of the movement.  

Maintain contact between your back, shoulders, buttocks, and the bench for proper support and control. 

Improper Breathing Technique 

Breathing correctly is essential for maintaining stability and maximizing strength. 

Inhale deeply before you lower the barbell and exhale forcefully as you press it back up.

This technique stabilizes your core and helps maintain control throughout the exercise. 

Safety and Precautions 

When performing the close grip bench press or any exercise, it’s important to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to avoid injury. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind. 

How to Work out Safely and Avoid Injury 

Warm-Up: Always begin your workout with a proper warm-up. Engage in light cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking or cycling to increase blood flow and raise your body temperature. Additionally, perform dynamic stretches and mobility exercises to prepare your muscles and joints for the upcoming workout. 

Start with Proper Form: Correct form is crucial for safety and optimal results. Before adding heavy weights, focus on mastering the technique of the close grip bench press. Practice with lighter weights until you can perform the exercise with proper form, including maintaining a stable back, shoulders, and buttocks on the bench, and keeping your elbows tucked in. 

Use a Spotter: If possible, have a spotter present when lifting heavy weights. A spotter can provide assistance if you struggle with the weight or need help racking the barbell. They also act as an extra set of eyes to ensure your form remains correct throughout the exercise. 

Gradually Increase Weight: Progression is important, but it’s essential to increase weight gradually. Avoid making sudden jumps in weight that your muscles and joints may not be prepared for. Gradually challenging yourself over time allows your body to adapt and reduces the risk of injury. 

Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s signals during your workout. If you experience sharp pain, discomfort, or any unusual sensations, stop the exercise immediately. Pushing through pain can lead to further injury, so it’s crucial to listen to your body and give it the rest and care it needs. 

Close Grip vs. Traditional Bench Press: What’s the Difference? 

The close grip bench press and the traditional bench press share similarities, but they also have distinct differences: 

Grip Width: The primary difference lies in the grip width. In the traditional bench press, the grip is wider, typically shoulder-width or slightly wider. In contrast, the close grip bench press involves a narrower grip, with hands placed closer together. 

Muscles Targeted: While both exercises engage the chest, shoulders, and triceps, the close grip bench press places greater emphasis on the triceps. The narrower grip shifts the focus from the chest to the triceps, making it an excellent exercise for triceps development. 

Range of Motion: Due to the narrower grip, the close grip bench press often requires a shorter range of motion compared to the traditional bench press. The reduced range of motion allows for increased emphasis on the triceps and may be beneficial for individuals with shoulder issues. 

It’s worth noting that both exercises can be valuable additions to your training routine.  

The traditional bench press is a compound movement that targets multiple muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps.  

On the other hand, the close grip bench press offers a variation that specifically targets and strengthens the triceps while putting less of an emphasis on the chest. 

Despite what you may find if you do a search for “close grip bench press Reddit”, the close grip bench press is still a great chest builder. 

So, if you want to prioritise your triceps while still growing your chest, the close grip bench press might just be the best option for you.   

Try It Out 

We have now told you everything you need to know about the close grip bench press. 

If you are still unsure, why not just give it a try? 

Many people are afraid to make the swap to the close grip because they fear it will hinder their chest growth, and while this is true to some extent, it makes up for it by building monstrous triceps.  

The question is this; do you want to prioritise your triceps, or do you want to prioritise your chest?  

Depending on what your goals are, different variations of bench press can help you achieve the look you want more efficiently.  

Close Grip Bench Press – FAQs 

What Does Close-grip Bench Press Work? 

The close grip bench press muscles worked are chest, triceps, and shoulders. 

In particular, the close grip bench press puts much more emphasis on the triceps than most other bench press variations.  

Is Close-grip Bench Press Useful? 

Yes, the close grip bench press is useful.  

The close grip bench press is a great overall upper-body builder, and it is particularly beneficial at growing triceps.  

If you want to get close grip bench press triceps, you need to get good at the close grip bench press. 

What Bench Grip Is Best For Chest? 

The wide grip bench press is the best bench grip for chest. 

This is because this grip makes the triceps play less of a role in the movement, putting more emphasis on the chest.  

Why Is Close Grip Bench Harder? 

The close grip bench press is harder because it incorporates the chest (a strong and powerful muscle) less than other bench press variations.  

We hope this article will be of use to you.  

If you decide to include the close grip bench press in your routine, you will not regret it. 

Whether you want to accelerate your tricep growth or reduce the chance of injury, the close grip bench press is just a fantastic exercise that way more people should take advantage of. 

If you would like more info on the close grip bench press or just more fitness content in general, feel free to head over to MovingForwards

See you in the next one. 

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