How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

How to Close Grip Bench Correctly With Proper Form

How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

The Close-Grip Bench Press is one of the best Bench Press variations available.

As the name implies, you bring your hands closer together when compared to the traditional bench press, with your index fingers right at the smooth part of the bar.

This allows more emphasis on the triceps and shoulder muscles while de-emphasizing the chest muscles.


  • Teaches how to maintain a stable shoulder position for everyday movements
  • Places less stress on the pectoralis tendon, allowing you to train the pressing movement in the presence of minor anterior shoulder discomfort
  • Encourages strength development of the shoulders, and arms which improve lean muscle mass and fat burning


  • Approach a bench press rack that has a barbell set at a comfortable rack height
  • Retract and squeeze your scapulae together when laying on the bench. Maintain this retracted position throughout the entire lift
  • Set your grip at a distance that is at shoulder width or slightly closer than shoulder width. Keep most (or all) of your fingers on the knurling (not the smooth part) of the barbell
  • Always wrap your thumbs completely around the bar
  • Place your feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees, and point your feet straight or angled out up to 45 degrees
  • Un-rack the bar and bring the bar out over your chest around the nipple line. Ensure that your scapulae are still retracted
  • Begin lowering the bar by tucking your elbows, more than you would on a traditional Bench Press, roughly at a 30-degree angle
  • Touch the bar to your chest just slightly below the nipple and pause for a fraction of a second
  • Reverse the movement by simultaneously contracting your glutes (without elevating your butt off the bench) and pressing the weight up and slightly back towards your face


  • All of the same exact mistakes of the traditional bench press applies here. You can see them here.


Want to know how to use this exercise in your workout?

Check out The Best Workout Template For Busy Individuals to learn how to integrate it into your training!

How Close Should My Grip be on Close Grip Bench Press?

There is a common misconception that your grip should be very close in the CGBP. Many bodybuilders have popularized the idea of almost having your hands touching during the exercise.

This is unnecessary and can place a lot of strain on your elbows and your wrists.

Any grip that is closer than your normal grip is considered a CGBP. A good rule of thumb is to hold your arms outstretched in front of you- and then focus on squeezing your armpits together tightly. Notice where your arms are. This is a good starting point.

Close Grip Bench Press Alternatives

If for some reason you cannot perform this exercise, there are some alternatives to give you similar benefits.

These include

  • The Close Grip Bench Press with Dumbbells
    • These are performed just a dumbbell bench press but with a neutral grip (palms facing each other)
  • Close Grip Push-Ups

    • Tuck the elbows so that they are


    Which Is Better: Close- or Wide-Grip Bench Press?

    How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

    A staple upper-body exercise, the barbell bench press can be performed with the hands either slightly wider than or slightly less than shoulder-width apart to work different muscles.

    To better understand the benefits and potential drawbacks of each variation, three top personal trainers weigh in on what you should know about this tried-and-true move.

    (Note: if you're working out solo, here's what you need to know about how to bench press without a spotter.)

    Wide-Grip Bench Press Benefits & Risks

    Arguably one of the most popular strength-training exercises, the wide-grip bench press has been a regular in workout routines for decades, and with good reason.

    A study by the American Council on Exercise found this exercise to be one of the most effective moves for eliciting a high level of muscle activity in the pectoralis major (a.k.a.

    your pecs or chest), making it a superior targeted chest exercise compared with incline dumbbell flies or traditional pushups.

    While the wide-grip bench press does effectively emphasize both the chest and the shoulders (specifically the anterior deltoid), Shana Verstegen, an ACE-certified personal trainer and TRX Master Trainer, reminds that safety is always key. “Personally I steer clear of the wide-grip bench press with my clients due to the risk of shoulder instability and pectoralis major rupture.

    ” Martin's concern over the risks outweighing the benefits is supported by a review of research published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal, which found that the amount of torque in the shoulders in nearly 1.5 times greater when performing a wide-grip bench press than a narrow-grip one, thereby increasing injury potential.

    (Related: Chest Workout: 6 Moves to Perk Up Your Boobs)

    To reduce the risk of injury, move through the complete range of motion-both during the lower and lifting phase of the movement-with control, and heed Martin's advice and only lower the bar to three to four inches above the chest as opposed to completely lowering the bar to lightly touch the chest.

    Close-Grip Bench Press Benefits & Risks

    Adjusting the placement of the hands to just slightly less than shoulder-width apart (often called narrow-grip or close-grip) shifts the emphasis from the larger muscles of the torso to the smaller muscles of the arms, specifically the triceps and forearms. This makes proper alignment essential, says Jonathan Ross, international fitness educator and author of the book Abs Revealed: “Watch for excessive extension of the wrists in which the knuckles rock back toward the forearms.”

    While the narrow-grip bench press serves as an effective exercise for strengthening the upper arms while producing less strain on the shoulders, Ross notes that individuals with elbow, wrist, or shoulder concerns will ly find it to be more of a challenge. (And if you can't do it, no worries: it's not one ofthe only five exercises you really need.)

    Which Bench Press Grip is Best: Wide or Narrow?

    Your choice of grip is largely dependent on whether your focus is to strengthen predominantly the chest or the triceps, though there are other factors to consider as well. Don Bahneman, general manager and master trainer at VIDA Fitness in Washington, D.C.

    , suggests considering your health history, desired fitness goals, and body awareness. “With flat bench lifts there is a need for good mobility in the shoulders as well as good scapular stability in order to reduce the potential for injury.

    ” (Try this mobility workout to prevent injury.

    ) Bahneman adds that if the bench press is an exercise you're adamant about performing yet holding a straight bar results in discomfort, consider using dumbbells in lieu of a barbell and/or try performing this exercise using a bench inclined between 15 and 60 degrees.

    While both variations of this move remain popular, Martin reminds that there are hundreds of pushing-based exercises to choose from (hello, push-ups!), and be sure to counter those movements with some pulling exercises ( a dumbbell back workout) to reduce the risk of injury and create a more well-rounded workout experience.


    Close Grip Bench Press Form Tips for Stronger Triceps and Chest

    How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

    The close grip bench press is a core training staple that can build size and strength in your triceps and chest—but are you sure you're even doing the exercise correctly?

    For this basic gym necessity, you shouldn't settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it's such a simple, essential movement that should serve as one of the centerpieces of your training plan.

    Let Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

    and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the move's subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.

    Before you slide onto the bench, grip the bar close, and get ready to press, take note that it's extremely important to pay attention to the subtleties of the movement here. You'll miss out on the potential back gains if you're not focused on your hand position and the bar path—and there's more to the press than you might think.

    Not Too Close!

    Eb says: The most misunderstood thing about the close-grip press is the closeness of the grip. You'll often see people grip the bar with their hands nearly touching each other, but you don't need to go nearly that narrow.

    Going that narrow limits how much your back muscles can help you create a proper platform for your torso, and it also forces your shoulders into a level of internal rotation. This also takes emphasis off your triceps and forces your chest and shoulders into play.

    Your chest and shoulders will invariably assist in close-grip pressing, but you're doing this primarily for tris, so keep the focus on them.

    Elbows Tight and Forward

    Eb says: You want to eliminate as much shoulder rotation from this move as possible, both to really attack your triceps and to protect your shoulders. That means really screwing in your arms hard. Once you set up with the bar, focus on rotating your elbows so they face downward, toward your legs.

    This will do two things: It'll turn on your lats to help you lower the weight correctly (more on that below), and it'll also start to turn on your triceps.

    (It's also biasing your shoulders into external rotation, another plus!) Do your best to keep applying this pressure throughout each set. You're also staying in a position that forces your triceps to drive the motion.

    Your tris are responsible for extending your arm at the elbow, so you want them moving in one plane; once they're in multiple planes (because you're flaring out), other muscles are taking over.

    Lower to Your Ribcage

    Eb says: Conventional bench presses have you lowering the bar to your lower chest, and you may be tempted to try to do that with the close-grip press. Don't. Instead, think about lowering the bar to your upper ribcage.

    If you try to lower to your chest, you'll place unnecessary mechanical stress on your elbows and wrists. That's going to prevent you from focusing on your triceps. Eventually, it'll limit your ability to really add weight to the move.

    Think about lowering the weight so your arms form an “L” at the bottom. Your forearms should stay perpendicular to the ground at all times. That will allow you to generate upward force primarily with your triceps.

    Smart Bench Rules

    Eb says: Your arms are executing a different motion than a standard bench press, but your lower body is not. So adhere to all good bench press rules for body position. That means heels flat on the floor, glutes and abs squeezed, and elbows driving into the bench— and never bounce the weight off your torso.


    3 Close-Grip Bench Press Mistakes and How to Fix Them

    How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

    The close-grip bench press is one of the best bench variations for improving tricep strength, and it’s often a variation that gets performed incorrectly. Typically, close-grip bench press form mistakes will be a bit more prevalent in beginners, however, even experienced athletes can use some fine-tuning from time-to-time.

    When it comes to the close-grip bench press, there are typically three common pressing mistakes seen across the board and these include,

    • Grip Width — Being too narrow.
    • Bar Path — Assuming the same bar path as a traditional bench press.
    • Elbow Tuck — Tucking the elbows too much.

    In this article, we’re going to cover these three close-grip bench press mistakes, why they’re problematic, and discuss how to fix them. If the close-grip bench press is a tricep staple in your program, then it’s always a good idea to ensure you’re performing them properly to get the most the movement.

    1. Grip Width

    What’s Wrong: Scroll through any generic close-grip bench press article and you’ll generally see photos of individuals gripping the barbell way too close. If the hands are touching or under roughly six inches from each other, then grip is more than ly too narrow. An example can be seen below.

    Close-Grip Bench Press Grip Width Mistake

    Why It’s Problematic: Besides simply being uncomfortable, gripping the barbell too narrow can result in two issues. First, it’s going to internally rotate the shoulders, which puts them in a compromised position when trying to press, and this position can also add unwanted stress to the shoulder joints.

    Second, there’s no mechanical advantage and carryover to working through this loaded movement pattern. When in sports or strength sports do you ever press something away from the body with a grip that narrow? Very rarely, if at all, so it makes no sense to spend time practicing this movement pattern in the gym.

    The Fix: The simplest way to fix close-grip bench press grip width is to bring the hands above the shoulder joint when in a rack position with the barbell. For most lifters, this is typically the most comfortable position to ensure form is efficient and the width ranges between a 95-100% biacromial distance.

    Biacromial width is the distance between the shoulder joints, so 95-100% would be pretty much in-line with the shoulders.

    Close-Grip Bench Press Grip

    For additional context, a study published in 2018 in the Sports Journal compared loading ranges and peak power outputs between the traditional bench press and close-grip bench press. In this study, authors defined close-grip bench press width as being roughly 95% of a lifter’s biacromial distance (1).

    Another 2017 study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics compared mechanical differences between the traditional bench press and close-grip bench press, and in this study, authors also defined close-grip bench press width as being 95-100% of a lifter’s biacromial distance (2).

    2. Bar Path

    What’s Wrong: A bar path that is hitting around the bottom of the sternum/pecs in a similar position to a normal bench press.

    Why It’s Problematic: A closer grip on the barbell will result in a slightly different elbow position throughout the close-grip bench press. If the point of contact on the chest is kept similar to a traditional bench press, then the elbows will more than ly flare out to a higher degree.

    Outside of not being an efficacious way to press, this can create unwanted additional stress on the wrists and shoulders, as the wrist joints will not be stacked on top over the elbow joints.

    Close Grip Bench Press

    The Fix: Bring the bar path’s point of contact slightly lower on the body than your normal bench press. A great way to self-check your bar path is to watch the wrists and elbows. At the bottom of the press, the wrists should be stacked on top of the elbows — similar to your traditional bench press.

    3. Exaggerated Elbow Tuck/Flare

    What’s Wrong: Tucking the elbows to a degree where they are nearly touching the sides of the body, or flaring them out and displacing all of the weight into the shoulders is incorrect for the close-grip bench press.

    Why It’s Problematic: The act of tucking the elbows is not the problem in this scenario, it’s over tucking them to a degree that creates friction with the elbows and the sides of the body. This is an inefficient way to press and can also take away from some of the work the close-grip bench press prime movers are doing by disengaging the upper back and shoulder’s set position.

    On top of tucking the elbows too much, flaring them out is equally problematic. This will shift a majority of the weight into the shoulders, which can add unwanted stress to the joints. Similar to the traditional bench press, the elbows should not be flared to a high degree in the close-grip bench press.

    Photo By Makatserchyk / Shutterstock

    The Fix: There are two easy ways to assess how much you should tuck the elbows in the close-grip bench press.

    First, you can think about keeping the elbows at a 30 degree angle from the body. This is an easy way to always remember mechanics if you have great proprioception of the body.

    Second, you can perform close-grip push-ups and take note of the elbows throughout the movement. Generally, this exercise will provide you with an accurate idea of where they should be during your press.

    Check out the close-grip bench press guide below for more!

    Assume a normal push-up position and place the hand narrower than your normal grip. A good rule of thumb is to go shoulder width or narrower and base hand placement on what’s most comfortable.

    Coach’s Tip: Using a diamond push-up setup works fine, but often times, this grip can be uncomfortable.

    Once you’ve established your grip and push-up position, begin the descent by gripping the floor and keeping the elbows tucked.

    Remember that the goal is to target the pecs and triceps, so think about loading these areas the most during the eccentric. 

    After you’ve hit the full eccentric, squeeze the pecs and triceps and press through the floor to return to your starting position.

    Coach’s Tip: Remember to consistently grip the floor and be mindful of where you’re shifting force to!

    Wrapping Up

    The close-grip bench press is an awesome bench press variation for isolating and training to improve tricep strength, size, and pressing power. Similar to the bench press, the close-grip bench press’s form needs attentiveness and constant checking to ensure you’re obtaining the most bang for your buck!


    1. Lockie, R., Callaghan, S., Orjalo, A., & Moreno, M. (2018). Loading Range for the Development of Peak Power in the Close-Grip Bench Press versus the Traditional Bench Press. Sports6(3), 97. doi:10.3390/sports6030097.

    2. Lockie, R., Callaghan, S., Moreno, M., Risso, F., Liu, T., & Stage, A. et al. (2017). Relationships between Mechanical Variables in the Traditional and Close-Grip Bench Press. Journal Of Human Kinetics60(1), 19-28. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0109


    The Close-Grip Bench | Mark Rippetoe

    How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

    The close-grip bench is perhaps the most common assistance exercise for the bench press – an assistance exercise being defined as a variation of the basic exercise. In this case, it is a full range of motion bench press with a narrower grip than used in the competitive version of the movement, similar to a stiff-legged deadlift or a low-box squat.

    The two most obvious things a narrower grip does to the bench press is 1.) slightly increase the ROM, and 2.

    ) shorten the moment arm against the shoulder joint by decreasing the distance between the glenohumeral joint and the hand.

    These things are both actually subtle variations in terms of the weight that can be lifted, and most people find that they can close-grip within 90% of their normal bench grip.

    The amount of increase in ROM is a function of how wide the grip is on the regular version of the exercise.

    From a normal-width grip for general strength training purposes – that taught by Starting Strength, with the forearms vertical at bar contact with the chest and designed to increase the ROM at the bottom of the movement – the ROM variation is not drastic.

    A very wide grip is designed to radically decrease the ROM, making the bar path so short that it drastically reduces the mechanical work done on the load – the Force x Distance-thing.

    Many competitive lifters in the lighter weight classes take advantage of the fact that maximum legal grip width for all weight classes is 32 inches, and as a result many world records have been set by lightweight women who moved the bar less than 2 inches.

    But there is always a price to pay for the intentional increase in length of one moment arm at the expense of another: a very long moment arm between the shoulder and the grip, and a lot of shear force against the humerus and forearm segments. If your bones are tough enough, fine.  But sometimes…

    I have proposed that the rules be amended to state that the forearms must be vertical at the point of bar contact with the chest, both for safety and to standardize the movement so that everybody is doing more or less the same thing on the bench. As usual, this will be ignored because it has always been done the other way.

    The obvious thing a close grip does is shorten this shoulder/grip moment arm, and a good reason to do so is to reduce the load on the shoulder.

    Many people with post-op shoulders have found that the wider grip of a normal bench press hurts too damn bad, that they can comfortably do a close-grip, and that the slightly lighter weight is a fair trade-off.

    The longer ROM preserves the work, but the work is done with less stress on the shoulder itself.

    In terms of muscle mass, much of the pec contribution is reduced, most of the delt function is retained, and the triceps actually work over a longer ROM.

    For this reason beginners think of the close-grip bench as a ”triceps” exercise, when the reality is that a very wide-grip bench is a much more specialized movement that leaves out more than it adds. And believe it or not, some people don't the look of big pecs on a man anyway.

    Close-grips are just not that weird, and are an excellent choice for lighter-day work, or as a substitute for wider grip benching entirely.

    Discuss in Forums


    Guide To The Close Grip Bench Press For Bigger, Stronger Triceps – Fitness Volt

    How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

    When most people do bench presses, they do them with their hands at least shoulder-width apart, and usually wider than that. Why? Because that is arguably the best way to activate your chest muscles. After all, that’s why most lifters do bench presses – they want bigger pecs!

    However, the bench press works more than your chest; it also involves your anterior deltoids or front shoulders, and also your triceps. If you want to lift as much weight as possible, you must position your hands so that these muscles can generate the most force. Again, that’s a wide grip.

    A lot of exercisers rely on the bench press on chest day, but this exercise is more than a just a pec builder. Simply changing the position of your hands turns it into an excellent triceps builder (1). Your pecs and delts are still involved in close-grip bench presses, but your triceps play a much bigger role.

    Learn how to do close grip bench presses properly, what mistakes you should avoid, the benefits, and a few variations to use that will liven up your triceps workouts. 

    How to do close grip bench presses

    If you are serious about getting results from this exercise, you need to be serious about doing it properly too. The correct form will minimize your risk of injury while ensuring that each rep you perform is as productive as possible.

    How to do close grip bench press:

    1- Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor. Reach up and grab the bar with an overhand, slightly narrower than shoulder-width grip. Your arms should be vertical and parallel to one another. Have a spotter check this for you.

    2- Brace your abs, pull your shoulders down and back, and lift the bar off the supports.

    3- Without moving your feet, bend your arms, and lower the bar to your sternum. Pull your elbows into your sides and touch the bar down lightly. No bouncing!

    4- Drive the bar back up to arms’ length and repeat.

    Adjust your weights and reps to match your training goal:

    For strength: 3-5 reps using 85%+ of your one-repetition maximum (1RM). Rest 3-5 minutes between sets. 

    For hypertrophy (muscle growth): 6-12 reps using 67-85% of your 1RM. Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.

    For muscular endurance: 13-20+ reps using less than 67% of your 1RM. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets.

    Common close grip bench press mistakes you need to avoid

    any exercise, you’ll get better results from the close grip bench press if you do it correctly. Improper form may allow you to lift more weight or do more reps, but it also increases your risk of injury, and may even make the exercise less effective. Make sure you get the most from this exercise by avoiding these common mistakes:

    Hands too close together: some old-school bodybuilders used to do this exercise with their hands so close together that their fingers touch. While this does put more tension on your triceps, it’s also very hard on your wrists and elbows. The risk of injury outweighs any potential benefits.

    Instead, make sure your hands are correctly spaced. To determine the right grip, drop down into the push-up position and place your hands directly under your shoulders. That’s the grip width you need on the bar. This position is not only safer, but it’s also stronger and will allow you to lift more weight (2).

    Incorrect bar path: To get the best chest-building benefits from the bench press, a lot of lifters lower the bar to their upper chests. This provides a good stretch, which can help increase muscle growth. However, this is not the correct bar path for the close grip bench press. 

    To maximize triceps recruitment, make sure you lower the bar to your sternum. Lowering it toward your upper chest could lead to elbow and wrists pain.

    Too much or too little elbow tuck: Using a narrow grip means you’ll need to keep your elbows close to your sides.

    But you should avoid tucking your elbows so tightly to your body that they rub against your sides. Also, make sure your elbows don’t flare outward either, as this will rob you of pressing power.

    Instead, focus on keeping your elbows directly below your hands. This will minimize the stress on your wrists and elbows.

    The benefits of the close grip bench press

    Still not sold on the close grip bench press? Here are some of the benefits that this excellent exercise offers:

    Bigger, stronger triceps: Most triceps exercises are isolation exercises. Skull crushers, pushdowns, and kickbacks, etc., all involve movement at just one joint, specifically the elbow. This severely limits the amount of weight you can lift, and therefore may restrict how much strength and muscle size you can build. 

    Close grip bench presses are a compound exercise, which means two or more joints are working together. This allows you to lift more weight and put more tension on the target muscles – the triceps.

    Better bench press lockout: In the regular bench press, a lot of lifters struggle to lock their elbows at the end of a rep. Why? Because their triceps are weak. Their pecs are strong enough to get the bar moving up and off their chests, but, as they approach the end of the rep, their triceps can’t lock out the bar. 

    Close grip bench presses are one of the most movement-specific ways to strengthen your triceps. That’s why this exercise is so popular with powerlifters looking to boost their bench press performance. If you find yourself struggling to lock out your elbows during regular bench presses, the close grip bench press can help.

    Less shoulder stress: The barbell bench press is undeniably good for building muscle and strength, but it can also be hard on your shoulders. Some lifters may find that switching to a narrower grip takes stress off the shoulder joint, allowing for pain-free pressing. If regular bench presses hurt your shoulders, give close grip bench presses a try.

    Mohamed Makkawy 

    Three close grip bench press variations and alternatives

    If you’ve mastered the close grip bench press, or simply want to add some diversity to your triceps workouts, here are three variations and alternatives to try.

    1- Close grip floor press

    No free benches at the gym? No problem! You can do close grip floor presses instead. Floor presses stop you from bouncing the bar off your chest, making them a cheat-proof exercise.

    How to do it:

    1– Set the hooks on a squat rack to about mid-thigh height. Place a bar on the hooks and then lie on the floor beneath it. Your eyes should be directly under the bar.

    2– Reach up and grab the bar with your usual close grip bench press hand position. Pull your shoulders down and back, arch your lower back, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.

    3– Unrack the bar, bend your arms and lower the weight down until your triceps lightly touch the floor. Push the bar back up and repeat.

    2- Close grip dumbbell bench presses

    Fix left to right strength imbalances and develop better coordination by working each arm independently.

    How to do it:

    1– Sit on the end of an exercise bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Rest the weights on your thighs. Lie back on the bench and use your legs to help boost the weights up to arms’ length. Position the dumbbells so that the ends are touching.

    2– Bend your arms and, keeping the dumbbells close together, lower the weights down to your chest.

    3– Push the dumbbells back up to arms’ length and repeat.

    You can also perform this exercise using a neutral or palms facing inward grip.

    3- Close-grip push-ups

    This exercise is ideal for anyone who wants to work their triceps but doesn’t have access to a gym. You can do close grip push-ups anywhere and anytime, even at home or in a hotel room.

    How to do it:

    1– Kneel down and place your hands flat on the floor. They should be directly under your shoulders with your fingers pointing straight ahead.

    2– Walk your feet back until your body is straight, and your weight is supported on your hands and toes only.

    3– Without lifting or lowering your hips, and with your core braced, bend your arms and lower your chest down to within an inch of the floor. Keep your elbows close to your sides.

    4– Press yourself back up and repeat.

    Close Grip Pushup


    Whether you want bigger, stronger triceps, or just want a break from regular bench presses, the close grip bench press is a worthy addition to your workouts. It does feel different to regular bench presses, but different is good. Studies have revealed that exercise variety is every bit as important for muscle growth and building strength as different weights, sets, and reps (3).

    Do this exercise as part of your arm workout, or in place of regular bench press in your chest workout, especially if wide grip bench presses bother your shoulders.


    1 & 2. Lockie, Robert; Moreno, Matthew (July 1, 2017). “The Close-Grip Bench Press”. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 39: 1. doi:10.1519/SSC.0000000000000307.

    1 & 3. Fonseca, Rodrigo M.; Roschel, Hamilton; Tricoli, Valmor; de Souza, Eduardo O.; Wilson, Jacob M.; Laurentino, Gilberto C.; Aihara, André Y.; de Souza Leão, Alberto R.; Ugrinowitsch, Carlos (2014-11).

    “Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 28 (11): 3085–3092. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000539. ISSN 1533-4287. PMID 24832974.


    How to Perform the Close Grip Bench Press

    How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press

    Also Known As: Triceps bench press (variation of the traditional bench press)

    Targets: Triceps, chest, and shoulders

    Equipment Needed: Barbell and bench

    Level: Beginner to Advanced

    The close grip bench press differs from the traditional bench press in that you perform the press with a narrower grip. This position places emphasis on building strength and size in the triceps muscles, as well as the chest.

    Performing a close grip press is a great way to add variety to upper body and pushing muscle workouts. Athletes using close push actions as in football, basketball, or rugby especially benefit from this type of sports specific exercise, according to research.

    Pressing with a narrow grip is also beneficial for lifters with shoulder injuries unable to perform a traditional bench press. When the grip width is reduced it creates less shoulder abduction said to limit the stress placed on the shoulder joint.

    You may be new to weight lifting or seasoned lifter wanting to improve an upper body routine. Adding the close grip bench press to your program would be a superior movement easily modified to every fitness level.

    Seeking the guidance of a qualified personal trainer may be a good idea in the beginning until you are comfortable with the exercise.

    The close grip bench press is an upper body compound exercise that targets the triceps muscles. The secondary muscles involved are your chest and shoulders. Using a narrow grip is shown to be a great alternative method to increase 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.

    The narrow grip places most of the workload on the triceps for maximum muscle development. Increased muscle size is a common goal among athletes, bodybuilders, and weight lifters.

    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 experience shoulder discomfort with the traditional press can benefit using a closer grip. A narrow grip is shown to reduce shoulder strain and help lifters to successfully bench a heavier load. Although the triceps are the primary movers, you are still using the chest and shoulders to some degree.

    The close grip bench press is a superior movement to include in your push or upper body workouts for added muscle size and strength. The following instructions will help you perform the exercise using proper form and technique:

    1. A spotter or smith machine is recommended for safety.
    2. Use a flat bench station or flat bench/power rack combination.
    3. Position the barbell at the correct reach level on the rack (you are able to grip/lift the bar off the rack with assistance).
    4. Load weight resistance according to your fitness level onto the barbell.
    5. Lie flat on the bench using a close grip (about shoulder width).
    6. Lift the bar with assistance from the rack, arms locked, and holding bar straight over you.
    7. Inhale and slowly bring the bar down toward your chest keeping elbows close to your body for the entire exercise.
    8. Exhale and push the bar up using the triceps muscles and locking arms at the top of the movement.
    9. Repeat the exercise for the recommended number of repetitions.
    10. Return the bar to the rack upon exercise completion.

    The close grip bench press is a great way to add variety to your upper body workout, but there are a few common mistakes to avoid during the exercise.

    If you’re new to weight lifting and this exercise, using a spotter or smith machine is recommended for safety. Once you are comfortable with the exercise and a spotter is unavailable, remain conservative with the weight loads continuing to work on good form and technique. 

    Bouncing the bar off the chest is an attempt to push very heavy weight up with momentum. This increases the risk of injury to the sternum and decreases the effectiveness of the exercise. The close grip press should be executed slowly and with control from start to finish using appropriate weight resistance. This ensures proper form and activation of the triceps muscles.

    Maintain a standard grip with your thumb and fingers wrapped around the bar during the exercise. There is an increased risk of dropping the bar and injury using a false grip (fingers and thumb on the same side of the bar). 

    Maintain proper body position on the bench for safe and effective execution of the movement. Lifting hips off the bench during a press may be an indicator the weight is too heavy. Reduce the weight as needed and pay attention to good body mechanics.

    Breathing properly is an important part of effective weight lifting. Many people hold their breath during the hardest part of the movement causing internal body pressure. Stay in tune with your body and breathing during the exercise. Inhale slowly as you lower the bar to your chest, and exhale during the push upward to start position.

    The close grip bench press can be performed in a variety of ways to accommodate your fitness level. Please keep in mind that a spotter or smith machine is always recommended for safety with this exercise.

    If you’re new to weight training, you may want to apply a few modifications to the close grip bench press as follows:

    • Perform the exercise using an EZ Bar if gripping the barbell causes wrist discomfort.
    • Use dumbbells as an alternative to the barbell. In this case, your palms will be facing each other as you hold the weights. 

    Increasing the challenge to the close grip bench press can be achieved by making a few changes including:

    • Increase the weight resistance as you gain in strength and ready for an additional challenge. Lift loads should be appropriate to your fitness level for proper execution and safety of the exercise.


    • Increase the number of repetitions per set and challenge the close grip bench press to muscle failure.

    • Advanced variations of this exercise include the barbell bench press, bodyweight dip, and general pushup. 

    Weight training requires attention to body position, form, and function. Performing any resistance exercise improperly can increase your risk of injury. The following tips will help you perform the close grip bench press safely and effectively:

    • Using a spotter or smith machine is recommended during this exercise.
    • Use proper hand placement (about shoulder width) on the bar to reduce risk of injury and effectively activate the triceps muscles.
    • Maintain your elbows close to the body during the movement for proper form and technique.
    • Avoid bouncing bar off the chest to reduce risk of injury. Perform the exercise using a slow and controlled movement from start to finish.
    • Perform the exercise using appropriate weight resistance for your fitness level.

      Lifting too heavy increases your risk of injury and doesn’t allow you to complete the movement in good form.

    • Maintain your hips on the bench during the exercise.
    • Use a full standard grip on the bar (thumb and fingers wrapped around the bar) to avoid dropping the bar during the exercise.

    • Discontinue the exercise if you experience wrist or shoulder discomfort that doesn’t feel right.

    Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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