The close grip bench press turns the bench press from one of the best exercises for your chest into one of the best exercises for your triceps. This makes it useful for physique athletes who want bigger arms because the triceps are two-thirds of your upper arm muscle mass. This can also be used to help lifters who are struggling with the lockout portion of their bench. Here’s some more information on the close grip bench press.
Muscles Targeted: The shift in your grip changes the focus slightly from a wide or shoulder width flat bench press. The emphasis is placed more on the triceps as opposed to your shoulders. The chest is still involved in the movement as well.
Exercise Instructions: Position yourself on a regular free weight flat bench press. Lie flat on your back and grab the barbell above you with a very narrow grip. Focus on keeping about a 6-8 inch width grip. Lift the barbell off of the rack and slowly lower it to about 3 inches above your chest and then press the bar back to the start position. Make sure to focus on keeping your elbows in towards your body throughout the full range of the movement.
Why This Exercise is Important: With so many variations of the bench press available, where does the close grip style fit in? Close grip bench presses are one of the best ways to target your triceps and to use a heavy load when doing so. Shoulder width or even wide grip flat bench presses can put enormous strain on your shoulders. If you are struggling with shoulder issues from bench pressing or even if the issues are unrelated, the close grip shifts most of the strain off your shoulders. Lifters who bench press in competitions can benefit from the unique strengthening capabilities of the close grip bench press. Since the triceps are mostly involved in the bench press at the lockout, if a lifter is weak closing out the lift then close grip bench presses can help solve that problem.
Things To Avoid: First and foremost as with all bench presses you must always lift with a spotter present in case something goes wrong. Make sure you lift and lower the weight smoothly. Do not jerk the weight around. Don’t allow the bar to descend too rapidly and without control. Avoid bouncing the bar off your chest as this will not only take away some of the effectiveness of the exercise, it can also injure your rib cage. Even though the grip is much narrower than a regular flat bench, make sure that you still allow space between your hands. Lifting with your hands too close together can put too much stress on your wrists.
Reps and Sets: Since the close grip bench press primarily target your triceps, it’s best to keep the repetitions low and the weight heavy. This will spur muscle growth in your triceps which respond well to lower reps. Keep your sets around the 3-6 range and repetitions in the 4-6 range.
Other Exercises To Use: Switch off between using flat barbell bench presses and close grip ones and see if your strength and physique doesn’t take off immediately. Add incline bench presses to target your shoulders and you’ve got three variations that emphasize each of the major muscle groups involved with different levels of stress. Decline barbell bench presses hit the triceps hard as well as close grip and can substitute in directly. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the triceps.
The close grip bench press will add variety to your workouts. It will also allow you to build bigger triceps in a hurry. If you’re lacking size or lacking strength in the lockout on bench, the close grip version will correct that. Give this one a shot and make sure that you do have a spotter handy as the triceps can fail quickly once fatigued.