How To Do Close Grip Bench Press – What Are the Benefits? – 2021

Why Bench Press?

As a compound lift, flat bench press is not only effective getting a big chest, delts and arms, but for working a lot of different smaller muscles as well. This makes it super effective for burning calories, building muscle mass and increasing anabolism when performed with proper form.

Traditional bench press is one of the most commonly performed exercises for muscle building in bodybuilding. You’re definitely going to be spending some time on the bench if you want to strengthen your upper body or grow your chest and arms.

Bottom line, this is one of your top movements if you want to build muscle, and a good candidate to add to your full body routine.

Standard Bench Press vs Close Grip Bench Press

When performed with a standard grip, traditional bench press will primarily hit your pectoralis major, anterior deltoids and your triceps.

Close grip bench press on the other hand, is one of my personal favorite exercises for hitting my triceps and lower pectoralis major.

In a similar way to diamond pushups vs standard pushups, close grip bench press takes the focus off of your upper chest and places it more on your triceps and lower chest by using a slightly narrower grip.

Max Tapper from the Howcast Youtube Channel has a great video showing how to do close grip bench press, check it out below!

Check out the Howcast channel here!

Safety First

Many people suffer shoulder injuries or shoulder pain when performing bench press movements. I was the same during the early days of my fitness journey, especially when performing close grip bench press.

It’s important to perform the close grip bench press movement correctly to avoid injuries that can put you out of the game for days or weeks at a time.

When it comes to form, there are three main points to keep in mind, hand position or grip width, elbow position, bar position.

Hand Position

Obviously, when you’re doing close grip bench press you need to place your hands in a more narrow grip than the grip width of a regular bench press, but it’s important not to make the mistake of using too narrow of a grip.

To get the most out of the exercise you need to keep your hands positioned at 90-100% of shoulder width. This will allow the movement to target your triceps muscles as well as your chest muscles. Performing the movement with too narrow of a grip will put undue stress on your elbows, shoulders and wrists. This is just going to put you at risk of injury more than help you build muscle.

Bench pressing is already hard enough on your shoulder joints, especially when you’re lifting heavy weight. Using too narrow of a grip is just asking for injury. Make sure to keep your hands about shoulder width apart!

Elbow Position

Your elbows should be kept at around a 30 degree angle from your body. If your elbows are flared out too far to the sides, you’re going to put too much of the weight on your shoulder joints and not engage your triceps muscles.

If you keep your elbows folded too close to your body, then you’re going to lose efficiency in the movement, especially if your arms are rubbing against your ribs.

Bar Position

You should be holding the bar slightly lower than you would if you were performing your average bench press movement.

Because you are using a narrower grip, your elbows will flare out too far if the path of the bar is too high, and result in too much stress on your shoulder and wrist joints.

You want to make sure that your wrists are directly above your elbows when the bar is in its lowest position.

How To Do Close Grip Bench Press

Note: Do not arch your back. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement. If you’re lifting heavy, consider using a spotter.

  • Get into your starting position:
    • Lie on the bench and make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
    • Grip the barbell with your hands about shoulder width apart.
    • Engage your core and pull your shoulder blades inwards to stabilize yourself.
  • Bring the bar down to be roughly equal to your sternum. Your wrists should be directly above your elbows.
  • Press up explosively, engage your pecs and triceps at the top of the movement.
  • Bring the bar down slowly and smoothly.

You should perform the close grip bench press movement slowly and smoothly, and squeeeeeze your pecs and triceps once you’ve achieved the top of your lift to fully engage the muscles, this is the part that will get you that satisfying burn if you’ve done everything correctly.

Close Grip Bench Press – Dumbbell Variation

You can perform almost the close grip bench press movement using dumbbells instead of a barbell.

  • Get into your starting position:
    • Lie back on your bench with your barbells held together over your chest and your palms facing inwards, towards each other.
  • Press up, engaging your pecs and triceps just as you would if you were using a barbell.
  • Keeping the dumbbells together, bring them back down to your chest, slowly and smoothly.

This variation allows you to work each arm independently, so if you feel like you favor one side when you’re using a barbell, this is a good option.

Using dumbbells to bench press can also be somewhat easier on your shoulder joint when compared to barbell bench press.

Diamond Pushups

As noted above, diamond pushups are very similar to the close grip bench press.

The reason for this is that, much like traditional bench press vs close grip bench press, diamond pushups take the focus off of your upper chest and help build tricep strength and lower chest instead.

To perform a diamond pushup:

  • Get into a pushup position with your hands directly underneath your chest.
  • Position your hands with your index fingers and thumbs from each hand touching so that they form a diamond shape on the floor.
  • Press explosively downwards into the floor and straighten your arms, making sure not to flare your elbows out too much.
  • Lower your chest back down towards the floor slowly and smoothly. Make sure to keep your elbows in close to, but not touching, your sides.
  • Pause at the bottom without actually touching the floor, before pressing down once again.

Diamond pushups are a great option if you struggle to perform the close grip bench press as it works the same muscles. It’s also a great option to build muscle if you find yourself without the necessary equipment!

Check out the video below from Brett Azar at the Howcast Youtube Channel!

Check out the Howcast channel here!

Final Thoughts

Close grip bench press is a fantastic upper body movement. It’s a great tool to have in your toolbox and one of the best tricep and lower chest builders out there.

Master the form using lower weights or use one of the above variations before going too heavy to get the most out of the exercise and avoid injury.

Once you’ve got it down, the results can be amazing.

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