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How To Do Close-Grip Bench Press (Proper Form & Benefits)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: December 27, 2021

Just by changing your grip width on the traditional bench press, you can increase the hypertrophy in your triceps and upper chest muscles.

I’ve performed the close grip bench press for almost a decade as a fitness trainer, and I highly recommend it to clients who want to get bigger arms.

But, you must do it in proper form to avoid injuries and unnecessary stress on your wrists.

Let's discuss how to do a close grip bench press for maximum gains.

Here’s a Quick Summary of Our Key Findings:

  • A close grip bench press is an upper-body compound exercise that emphasizes your triceps, upper back, and chest muscle groups.
  • It’s scientifically proven to increase the upper body strength required in most sports.
  • You can do it with dumbbells, a regular barbell, a smith machine, or replicate it by doing diamond press-ups.
  • A good rule of thumb is to start with 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps and increase weights with time to ensure muscle building.

How to Perform the Close Grip Bench Press

Man performing close grip bench press close to his chest

Ensure you set up weights you can control and maintain good technique throughout your sets and reps. To find a comfortable position for your workouts, you can start with warm-up sets of 8-12 reps.

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press

  1. Lie face-up with your back on a flat bench and feet flat on the floor. Keep your eyes directly underneath the barbell with your shoulders slightly back and relaxed.
  2. Grab a straight bar with both hands in a shoulder-width grip.
  3. Lift the bar without losing your grip or position.
  4. Slowly bend your elbows to lower the bar to your chest until your forearms are next to your body.
  5. Pause for 1-2 seconds at the end of the movement and begin to push the bar back up to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the process.
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Close Grip Dumbbell Press

  1. Lie face-up on a bench with your feet flat on the ground while gripping a dumbbell of desired weight on each hand.
  2. Hold the dumbbells vertically side-by-side or horizontally at shoulder width to mimic the normal bench press.
  3. Keeping your elbows close, push the dumbbells upwards until you reach the end of the movement.
  4. Keep your wrists above your elbows and the dumbbells outside your torso with shoulder blades retracted towards your hips.
  5. Pull the dumbbells towards your chest sides with your elbows tucked inwards.
  6. Repeat the process.
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Pros
  • It helps athletes acquire shoulder muscles for increased strength and higher velocity [1].
  • Great alternative for people who experience shoulder pain while performing a standard press.
  • Enhances your ability to lift heavier weights.
  • Improves your standard bench press.
Cons
  • The narrow grip limits your total strength output.

Close Grip Bench Press Variations

Other bench press variations include a barbell press, a dumbbell bench press, and a decline or incline bench press.

You can also push the same muscles using other triceps exercises like:

  • Diamond pushups
  • Close grip floor press
  • Board press
  • Pin bench press

Mistakes To Avoid While Doing the Close Grip Bench Press

Close grip bench press mistake, hands touching

Don’t let your hands touch as you do this exercise as this can create stress on your wrists making it very uncomfortable.

You should not force your elbows to follow unnatural tracking mechanics.

“With the close grip barbell press, I try to bring my hands in as tight as possible without putting too much stress on the wrists, that way all I’m using is chest.” Jose Raymond, an IFBB professional bodybuilder from Massachusetts. 

Avoid bouncing the barbell off your chest to create momentum while using heavier weights. This increases the risk of injury and reduces the benefits of exercise.

Don't hold your breath as you approach the most challenging movement pattern. Inhale slowly as you lower the bar to your chest and exhale as you raise it.

FAQs

What Does a Close Grip Bench Press Work?

A close grip bench press works the medial and lateral triceps head and front delts muscles. These muscles are essential for pushing and lifting heavy objects [2].

Where Should I Put My Hands on a Close Grip Bench Press?

You should keep your hands shoulder-width apart. You can put them slightly closer, but make sure you’re comfortable to avoid injury.

Do You Touch Your Chest on a Close Grip Bench Press?

In a close grip bench, you should tuck your elbows further than in a traditional bench press. This means your chest touch may be slightly lower. But don’t force your trajectory; let the hands touch the chest naturally.

Are You Going To Try the Close Grip Bench Press?

The close grip bench press is a must-do for athletes or any gym-goers because of its many benefits.

In addition to giving you bigger triceps, the exercise can also help you reduce elbow flaring and stress on your shoulders.

Pay attention to your hand position, bar path, and chest position to get the most out of it.

If you maintain proper technique throughout the exercise, you can increase your ability to lift heavier weights and try more challenging exercises in the gym.


References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318289674_The_Close-Grip_Bench_Press/link/59cf4d484585150177e85590/download
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968970

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