The close-grip bench press is one of the most effective exercises for building chest, triceps, and biceps mass, Follow our guide to get started today!
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what is the Close-Grip Bench Press?
With particular exercise performance and a longer range of motion, the close-grip bench press biases the triceps muscles. The close-grip bench press, as the name suggests, requires your hands to be closer together than during a regular bench press. This expands your range of motion and causes more elbow flexion and extension, emphasizing your triceps over your chest.
Benefits of Close-Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is an upper body complex exercise that primarily works the triceps. Your chest and shoulders are the secondary muscles involved. A narrow grip has been found to be an excellent alternative strategy for increasing upper-body pushing strength.
Because the chest and shoulders assist the movement, the close grip press has the potential for heavier lift loads and maximum strength gains. Combined with your body position on the bench, the movement can be done safely with progressively heavier resistance. A narrower grip reduces the chance of injury.
For maximum muscle development, the tight grip concentrates the majority of the stress on the triceps. Athletes, bodybuilders, and weight lifters all strive for bigger muscles.
Performing the close grip bench press promotes overall muscle balance as both muscle strength and gains are increased progressively and simultaneously. This is shown to improve muscle function and symmetry, another common goal for lifters.
Lifters who have shoulder pain when performing the standard press can benefit from employing a narrower grip. A narrow grip has been demonstrated to alleviate shoulder strain and assist lifters in benching a higher load. Although the triceps are the primary movers, the chest and shoulders are also used to some extent.
Muscles Worked by the Close-Grip Bench Press
The close-grip bench press is most commonly known for challenging the triceps muscles, however, there are more muscles involved than you may think.
Pectorals Major and Minor
The pectoralis major and minor are your chest muscles, and while they do not contribute significantly to the close-grip bench press, they play a crucial part in the activity. Both the pec major and minor are activated to lift the weight and drive your arms higher during the concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering) phases.
Your shoulder has three distinct heads: the front (anterior), side (lateral), and back (posterior). Each one aids in raising the arm in the opposite direction from your body’s midline. The anterior deltoid, in particular, helps to raise and drop your upper arm during the close-grip bench press.
However, if your anterior deltoid fatigues before other muscle groups throughout the workout, your elbows are likely flaring excessively. Changing your grip and/or bar path should help you focus on your triceps.
In comparison to your biceps, your triceps comprise the majority of your upper arm. The triceps muscle has three heads: lateral, medial, and long, and its major function is to extend the arm from a bent elbow posture to full elbow extension. The triceps contraction is reinforced during the exercise’s lockout, where the triceps are more actively stimulated.
How to do the Close-Grip Bench Press
Close-Grip Bench Press Instructions
- Lie flat on a bench and set your hands at shoulder width.
- Pinch your shoulder blades together and drive them into the bench to set them.
- Take a deep breath and allow your spotter to help you with the lift-off in order to maintain tightness through your upper back.
- Allow the weight to settle and keep your upper back taut after lifting off.
- Inhale and allow the bar to descend slowly by unlocking the elbows.
- Lower the bar in a straight line to the base of the sternum (breastbone) and touch the chest.
- Press yourself into the bench, drive your feet into the floor for leg drive, and extend your elbows to bring the bar back up in a straight line.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Close-Grip Bench Press Tips
- Technique first, weight second – no one cares how much you bench if you get injured.
- Maintain a straight line by keeping the bar in line with your wrists and elbows. To keep the wrist straight, place the bar as low in the palm as feasible while still wrapping the thumb.
- Stop each repetition slightly short of lockout at the top if you want to keep extra tension in the triceps and chest.
- Because of the reduced grip width, the elbows will be tucked more than on a standard bench, however, if you feel shoulder pain during this variation, you may need to adjust the grip width and elbow tuck significantly to create more space within the shoulder capsule.
- Arching may be beneficial depending on your goals, but make sure that the majority of your arch comes from your mid to upper back and not your lower back. If your lower back cramps as you prepare to lift, you’re out of position and putting yourself at danger of injury.
- The bar should touch your chest with every single repetition. If you want to overload specific ranges of motion, look into board presses or accommodating resistance with chains or bands.
- To create a linear bar path, as the bar drops, aim for your sternum (breastbone) or slightly below depending on the length of your upper arm.
- Intermediate and intermediate lifters may utilize a thumbless or “suicide” grip, but for the majority of lifters, learning to bench with the thumb wrapped around the bar is preferable at first.
- Fight the urge to allow the wrists to roll back into extension, think about rolling your knuckles toward the ceiling.
- Experiment with grip breadth; if you have longer arms, a somewhat wider grasp may be required. If you experience pressure in the front of your shoulder during the exercise, you may need to widen your grip, enhance scapular retraction, or reduce the range of motion slightly with exercises like floor or board presses.
- Squeeze the bar as tightly as possible to help enhance shoulder stability.
- Some lifters prefer to tuck their toes while others prefer to keep the feet flat to optimize leg drive – experiment with both and see which one feels and allows for greater power production.
- Ensure the shoulder blades remain retracted and don’t allow them to change position as you press.
- The bar should descend under control and touch the lifter’s chest – no bouncing or excess momentum.
- Think about trying to push yourself away from the bar instead of pushing the bar off of you.
- Tightness through the upper back should be one of your main priorities throughout the course of the lift.
- Ideally, use a spotter to help assist with the lift-off in order to maintain tension through the upper back.
- Maintain silent feet throughout the lift and use leg drive to support the pelvis by driving your feet into the floor and tightening your glutes.
- Pull the bar apart or try to “bend the bar” to stimulate some of the shoulder’s intrinsic stabilizers.
- Throughout the exercise, the glutes and shoulder blades should remain in contact with the bench.
Close-Grip Bench Press Variations
Banded Close-Grip Bench Press
Adding resistance bands of varying tension to the close-grip bench press will challenge higher range of motion and so boost pressing power and/or improve lockout ability. Resistance bands provide accommodating resistance – they get increasingly difficult as they are stretched further and provide relatively less resistance before they are fully stretched.
The lockout position of the bench press demands less energy and benefits from a leverage advantage. As you stretch your elbows, the weight feels “lighter.” With bands, you must apply maximal strain as the resistance climbs toward the top position, forcing a stronger contraction. At the lockout, band tension increases as the bar moves upward. This forces you to deliberately produce more power and drive hard in order to attain lockout.
This is a good hypertrophy variation. Using any machine that resembles a comparable setup as the close-grip bench expands your hypertrophic choices. The machine design allows lifters to utilize a number of high-intensity techniques for improved training stimulus.
Drop sets, partial reps, and even forced reps with a training partner provide for increased variety in your exercises. This is also a safer option than pushing yourself to muscular exhaustion with the close-grip bench press.
This triceps-focused push-up variation is an excellent addition to any training regimen, whether as a major exercise or a muscle-exhausting ending activity. Because your hands are closer together, as in a close-grip bench press, the range of motion is higher than in a typical push-up, making it more difficult.
If you are unable to do a full range of motion rep from your toes, you can substitute a close-grip inclined push-up (with your hands elevated on a bench) or a kneeling close-grip push-up.
The close grip bench press is a terrific method to mix up your upper body workout, but there are a few typical pitfalls to avoid while performing the exercise.
Not Using a Spotter or Smith Machine
If you’re new to weight lifting with this exercise, it’s best to use a spotter or smith machine for safety. When you’re familiar with the exercise and a spotter isn’t present, keep the weight levels light and focus on good form and technique.
Bouncing Bar Off Your Chest
The attempt to push the very heavy weight up with impetus is made by bouncing the bar off the chest. This increases the danger of sternum damage and reduces the efficiency of the workout. From start to finish, the close grip press should be performed slowly and with control, employing sufficient weight resistance. This ensures appropriate form and triceps muscle activation.
Not Using Proper Grip
Throughout the exercise, maintain a normal hold with your thumb and fingers wrapped around the bar. Using a false grip (fingers and thumb on the same side of the bar) increases the chance of dropping the bar and injury.
Lifting Hips Off the Bench
Maintain optimal body position on the bench for safe and successful movement execution. Lifting the hips off the bench during a press could indicate that the weight is too heavy. Reduce your weight as needed and focus on appropriate body mechanics.
Improper Breathing Technique
Proper breathing is essential for good weight lifting. During the most difficult stage of the action, many people hold their breath, causing internal body pressure. During the workout, stay in touch with your body and your breathing. Inhale softly as you lower the bar to your chest, and exhale as you push back up to the starting position.
To match your fitness level, the close grip bench press can be performed in a variety of ways. Please bear in mind that a spotter or smith machine is always recommended for this exercise’s safety.
Safety and Precautions
Weight training necessitates a focus on body position, form, and function. Any resistance workout performed incorrectly can increase your chance of injury. The following pointers will assist you in safely and effectively doing the close-grip bench press:
- Using a spotter or Smith machine is recommended during this exercise.
- Use proper hand placement (about shoulder width) on the bar to reduce the risk of injury and effectively activate the triceps muscles.
- Maintain your elbows close to the body during the movement for proper form and technique.
- To limit the danger of injury, avoid bouncing the bar off the chest. Start and finish the exercise with a slow and controlled movement.
- Use suitable weight resistance for your fitness level when performing the activity. Lifting too heavy raises your chance of injury and prevents you from completing the activity in proper form.
- Maintain your hips on the bench during the exercise.
- To avoid dropping the bar throughout the workout, use a complete standard hold (thumb and fingers wrapped around the bar).
- Discontinue the exercise if you experience wrist or shoulder discomfort that doesn’t feel right.
Why does the close-grip bench press hurt my shoulder?
Improper grip width is one of the most subtle yet common causes of shoulder pain during the bench press, with both too narrow and too wide hand placements along the barbell placing the shoulders in a dangerous position that may result in pain and injury if too much resistance is loaded therein.
what is the distance for a close-grip bench press?
Lying down on a bench, position yourself so that your eyes are in line with or behind the barbell. Grip the barbell taking a close grip just outside of the shoulder width apart. Retract your shoulder blades by pulling your shoulder blades into the bench and pressing through your feet.
what muscles do the close grip work?
The close grip bench press primarily works the upper chest, triceps, and anterior deltoids. Compared to the standard barbell bench press, the shoulders and triceps take more of the load.
is it better to do a close-grip bench press?
The bench press is great for upper-body hypertrophy. The wider the grip, the more emphasis on your pecs. The closer grip bench press puts emphasis on your triceps, making it one of the best arm exercises for muscle growth and bigger arms.