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The Close-grip Bench Press: A Bodybuilding Staple


The close-grip bench press is a staple in bodybuilding. When done correctly, it can help you build muscle and strength in your chest, triceps, and shoulders. In this blog post, we will discuss the proper way to perform the close-grip bench press, as well as some of its benefits.


How to Do Close-Grip Bench Press

When you want to add size and strength to your upper body, the close grip bench press is a great movement to include in your workouts. You can do this exercise using a flat bench station or flat bench/power rack combination.

  1. Set the barbell to the appropriate reach height on the rack (you should be able to grip/lift the bar off of the rack with assistance).
  2. Choose the amount of weight resistance you’re comfortable with for your fitness level and load it onto the barbell.
  3. Grasp the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and lie down on the bench..
  4. With the rack assisting, raise the bar with your arms locked and hold it straight over you.
  5. For this exercise, Slowly bring the bar down to your chest while inhaling. Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the entire movement.
  6. Exhale and push the bar up with your triceps and locking arms at the top of the movement.
  7. Do the exercise repeatedly for the recommended number of times.
  8. After completing the exercise, return the bar to the rack.

Benefits of Close-Grip Bench Press

The triceps are targeted by the close grip bench press, which is an upper body complex exercise. The chest and shoulders are also involved in this motion. Using a narrow grip has been demonstrated to be an effective technique to enhance upper-body pushing power.

The close grip press is a movement with the potential for heavier lift loads and maximum strength gains because the chest and shoulders assist the movement. The position of your body on the bench combined with progressively heavier resistance allows you to do this move safely. Additionally, a narrower grip reduces your chance of sustaining an injury while performing this exercise.

The narrowness of the grip largely focuses the workload on developing the triceps muscles. Many athletes, bodybuilders, and weightlifters have increasing muscle size as a common goal. 

Skull crushers are another exercise that can increase strength in tricep muscles; however, if you have any problems with your elbows, a close-grip bench press might be a better alternative.

The close grip bench press not only strengthens muscles but also boosts growth. This enables your muscles to function better and creates symmetry in the body, which is often an objective for weightlifters.

A closer grip can ease the discomfort many lifters feel in their shoulders when using traditional presses. A narrower grip not only reduces strain on the shoulder but also allows lifters to bench a heavier load. Even though the triceps handle most of movement, you are still using your chest and shoulders somewhat during the exercise.

Different Ways to Perform the Close-Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press may be done in a variety of ways to suit your ability level. Please note that, for safety’s sake, a spotter or smith machine is always suggested.

Use an EZ Bar

Using an EZ bar—a shorter bar with a zigzag section—offers you greater areas to grip, alleviating any wrist discomfort. Its unique design allows you to set your grip more ergonomically.

Use Dumbbells

If you’re just getting started working out this muscle group, it’s a good idea to start with dumbbells instead of a barbell. As you hold the weights in this case, your palms will be facing each other.

Increase Resistance

There are a few ways you can increase the difficulty of the close grip bench press, including:

  • As you become stronger, increase the amount of weight resistance to make the exercise more challenging. Make sure that the loads are appropriate for your fitness level so that you can execute the exercise properly and safely.
  • Increase the number of repetitions per set and push the close grip bench press to muscular failure.

More challenging versions of this workout are the barbell bench press, bodyweight dip, and regular pushups.


Common Mistakes

The close grip bench press is a fantastic way to spice up your upper body workout, but there are certainly avoidable blunders to avoid.

Not Using a Spotter or Smith Machine

To stay safe when first beginning weightlifting, it is advised to use a spotter or smith machine. Without a spotter, be cautious with the number of weights you’re lifting as you continue practicing proper form and technique.

Bouncing Bar Off Your Chest

Pushing the bar off your chest with momentum in an attempt to lift heavy weights increases the risk of injuring your sternum and makes the exercise less effective. To avoid this, press weight slowly and under control from start to finish using appropriate resistance. This will also ensure you are doing the exercise correctly and activating your triceps muscles.

Failing to Use the Proper Grip

Keep a firm grip on the bar throughout the exercise by wrapping your thumb and fingers around it. If you use a false grip (fingers and thumb on the same side of the bar), you’re more likely to drop the bar or hurt yourself.

Lifting Hips Off the Bench

You will be both safer and more effective in your lift if you maintain a proper body position on the bench. Popping your hips up off the bench during a press is usually an indicator that the weight is too heavy for you; reduce it as needed and focus on keeping good form.

Poor breathing technique

Breathing is an essential part of a successful weight-lifting workout. Internal body pressure is caused by many people holding their breath during the most difficult phase of the movement. Keep in mind your body and breathing throughout the exercise. Inhale slowly as you lower the bar to your chest, and exhale as you push upward to start position.

The close grip bench press may be done in a variety of ways to match your skill level. It is always advisable to use a spotter or a smith machine while performing this exercise for safety reasons.

Safety and Precautions

Body position, form, and function must all be considered when performing weight training. Improper execution of any resistance exercise may result in an injury. The following techniques can assist you prevent or minimize injuries while performing the close grip bench press correctly:

  • It is recommended to use a spotter or smith machine during this exercise.
  • Reduce the chance of injury and optimize triceps muscle activation by maintaining proper hand placement on the bar (about shoulder width).
  • For proper form and technique, keep your elbows close to the sides of your body during the movement.
  • Use a slow and controlled movement to avoid bouncing the bar off your chest, which could result in an injury.
  • Use enough weight resistance appropriate to your fitness level. Lifting too much puts you at risk of injury and prevents you from performing the activity in excellent form.
  • Maintain your hips on the bench throughout the exercise.
  • By gripping the bar with your thumb and fingers wrapped around it, you will be able to avoid dropping the bar while performing this exercise.
  • If you experience wrist or shoulder discomfort while performing this exercise, stop immediately.


The close-grip bench press is a great exercise for developing upper body strength, but it’s important to be aware of the common mistakes people make when performing the move. By using a spotter or Smith machine, maintaining proper form, and using the appropriate amount of weight resistance, you can safely perform this exercise and achieve optimal results. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply throughout the movement to prevent injury and maximize your results. Thanks for reading! We hope this article was helpful.

Also See:
DC Training  |  Mike Mentzer HIT  |  Dorian Yates Blood and Guts  |  Static Holds  |  Time Under  Tension  |  Rest Pause Sets  |  Extreme Stretching

Jake Anderson

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