Close Grip Barbell Bench Press


Close Grip Barbell Bench Press

In this post you will find proper technique and all the tips & tricks needed to perform close grip barbell bench press safely and effectively.

Close grip barbell bench press may seem to be simple and you might think it’s enough to get a narrow grip on the barbell and perform some barbell presses. Nothing could be further from the truth. You must remember to control the movement so that your triceps do most of the work. Elbows must be kept narrow and close to the body through the full range of motion. Many bodybuilders fail to follow this rule and keep their elbows in the same manner as during regular chest barbell press, and they are surprised that such workout doesn’t target their triceps.

Powerlifters are particularly fond of the close grip barbell bench press – they value it for it’s ability to develop immense tricep pressing strength, which translates into more strength “out of the hole” on the bench.

Narrow-Grip Barbell Bench Press Proper Technique

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Lie down on a weight bench and dismount the bar from the rack which can be put slightly higher this time. Hold it in the starting position with fully extended arms over the middle of your chest. Your hands should be slightly less then shoulder width apart – spread to the width of your clavicles.

Tricep Exercises: Close Grip Barbell Bench Press

Tricep Exercises: Close Grip Barbell Bench Press

MOVEMENT (ACTION): Lower the bar straight down toward your (lower) chest. Remember to keep your elbows close to the body during the entire range of motion. Bring your elbows past your sides and lightly touch the bar against the lower part of the chest.

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press Useful Tips & Tricks

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press Animation

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press Animation

Proper form has to be maintained while performing this triceps exercise for it to be effective. Doing it wrongly may lead to injury or lack of achievement of your bodybuilding goal. It is therefore crucial that one performs this exercise using the correct form in order to achieve the best from the great exercise.

  • Remember to properly keep your elbows and control the weight all the time. This is not about breaking a weight-lifting record, but about having good technique and targeting your triceps.
  • The closer your hands are spaced, the more tricep focused the lift becomes. You can even use a narrower grip than described above, as long as you do not feel any tingling in your wrists.
  • Grasp the bar with a symmetrical overhand grip (palms facing up), hands slightly less than shoulder-width apart, preferably keeping your thumb under the bar.
  • Don’t let your elbows flare out, as this will shift the emphasis of the exercise on to your pecs. So keep your elbows close to your sides to emphasize the triceps.
  • This triceps exercise works the triceps (back of upper arm) muscles and helps balance and develop strength equally on both sides of the elbow joint.
  • If you rest with the bar on your chest, the triceps will be recruited even more to compensate for part of the kinetic energy lost during this 1- or 2-second break.

Exercise Variations

Perform close grip barbell bench presses on an incline or decline bench to train the triceps from a slightly different angle. Regardless of which bench you use, keep your back firmly in place as you lift. Don’t arch your back to help you lift the weight. Try using an EZ curl bar for performing the narrow-grip bench press; this may reduce the strain on your wrists.

You can also use Smith machine to perform this exercise. Furthermore, try to do push-ups with narrow hand position. By adjusting the position of your hands and the direction of your elbows, you can isolate very specific areas of your triceps and deltoids.

Also, you can attach bands to the bar to accentuate the work of the triceps. As you lift your arms, the resistance increases. And as you straighten your arms, the triceps begins to work more, and the chest work less.

Replacement Exercise

Replacement exercise for the close grip barbell bench press can be found in our big triceps exercise database.

Muscles Engaged

The lateral and medial heads probably work harder than the long head, but all three are involved.

  • Main muscles: triceps, pectoralis major, front deltoid
  • Secondary muscles: coracobrachialis, serratus anterior, pectoralis minor, subscapularis, anconeus
  • Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, rear deltoid

Final Thoughts About Narrow Grip Bench Press

Close grip barbell bench press is similar at first glance to the regular bench press, but bringing your hands close together on the bar places far more emphasis on the triceps and anterior deltoids than on the chest.

That’s why this variant of the chest bench press provides a heavy workout for the triceps, as the movement is more similar to an extension than a press.

The close grip bench press helps build big triceps and is good assistance exercise for competition power lifting. Finally, close grip barbell bench press is one of the few triceps exercises that take advantage of the length-tension relationship in the long head.

Off course, this compound exercise for the triceps, shoulders, and chest has also some disadvantages. Targeting the triceps is not always easy because the chest and shoulders participate to varying degrees as well. All wrists are not made to dio narrow-grip bench presses. To avoid hurting your wrists, you may need to use a twisted EZ bar instead of a straight bar.


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