A regular bench press routine focuses on the chest, shoulders, and triceps by weighing all the hard work on the chest muscles. But when it comes to a close grip bench press, the focus is shifted to the tricep muscles. It helps in activating the upper chest and increases the tricep strength.
Muscles Worked by the Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is mainly an upper-body exercise that works on tricep muscles. But other than that, it also works on chest and shoulder muscles. The following is the list of muscles that get involved while doing a close grip bench press:
- Shoulders (anterior deltoids)
- Upper chests (the clavicular fibres)
Benefits of Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is not only beneficial for beginners but also advanced athletes. It can be beneficial in the following manners:
As it targets your tricep muscles, it helps in building mass. With its variations, you can enhance the tricep strength as well.
According to studies, it is responsible for 62% of muscle activation. Along with that, it works on the chest, making it a comprehensive workout.
You can keep this workout for the end of your chest exercises as a warm-up for your triceps.
Reduces Elbow Flaring
Elbow flaring is a common phenomenon in which the elbows come out of the body while moving parallel to the arms. This can lead to elbow pain.
By adding a close grip bench press to your daily workout routine, you can pay more focus to your triceps and shoulders. This can shift the workload from the pecs to your triceps significantly while lowering the weight. Furthermore, it can help reduce elbow flaring.
Improves Bench Press Lockout
People often struggle towards the end of a bench press when they have to lock their elbows out. Such people can benefit from a close grip bench press.
As the triceps control the lockout position, this workout can improve your strength in maintaining it.
When you go for a wider grip bench press, you can feel the tension and stress on your shoulders. The same is not the case when it comes to the close grip bench press.
If you wish to give your shoulders a break or suffering from a shoulder injury, you can include this exercise in your daily routine.
Most of the other compound upper body exercises require comprehensive training equipment. It can be difficult and cumbersome to set them up. But this does not apply to the close grip bench press. You just need a barbell and a bench.
If you are planning on making a home gym, this will be easier to set up and perform.
Upper Chest Activation
Having upper pecs is a prerequisite when it comes to having a “fuller” body. But with the close grip bench press, the clavicular head of the pectoralis major get activated. Such a targeted muscle workout helps in growing the muscle region while adding intensity to your workout.
Good for Athletes
More and more athletes and professional players are including close grip bench press in their workout. Moreover, they are replacing the wide grip bench press with it as it helps in better upper body development. Such progress can come in handy while playing sports like boxing, netball, or football.
How to Perform the Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is very similar to a simple bench press. The following is the step-by-step instruction to perform a close grip bench press with the correct form.
- Position your flat bench and the barbell at the right level on the rack. If you are a beginner, a spotter is recommended.
- Load the weight on the barbell as per your comfort level. Do not overdo it to avoid injuries.
- Lie down flat on the bench and lift the bar from the rack with your arms locked.
- Hold the bar straight over you, and while inhaling, slowly bring it down towards your chest.
- Ensure that your elbows are close to your body.
- Exhale and push the bar up and lock the arms at the top. You will feel a burn in your tricep muscles while doing so.
- Repeat the process and return the bar to the rack with the help of a spotter.
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Performing Close Grip Bench Press
Even though a close grip bench press is a standard workout exercise, common mistakes can cause elbow and wrist pain. To save yourself from sustaining any injuries, pay attention to the following mistakes that people make.
Narrow Grip Width
Beginners tend to keep their hands close too close to each other while holding the barbell. This can be harmful as a narrow grip can lead to severe discomfort. Moreover, it can also make the exercise less efficient.
For reference purposes, if your hands are only six inches away from each other, you are holding it too close.
Lastly, it is going to internally rotate your shoulders, giving extra stress and load to your shoulders.
It is better to keep the grip parallel to your arms or shoulder width.
Besides the distance between two hands, you must also focus on the grip. A standard grip would be sufficient to hold the barbells.
Your thumb and fingers should be wrapped around the bar. Some prefer to keep their fingers and thumb on either side of the bar. This can cause injuries as well as reduce efficiency.
Contact with Chest
Bodybuilders and lifters tend to bring down the bar at the same level as a normal bench press. But as the close grip bench press targets your triceps, it is advisable to bring down the bar 2-3 inches compared to a normal bench press.
Keeping the point of contact higher than a normal bench press can cause elbow flaring too.
While bringing down the bar, it is necessary to maintain the elbow position while preventing them from getting tucked. Tucked elbows stress the shoulder and can lead to pain. Moreover, it can also cause friction to the body side.
Go with the position that allows you to contract your pec and tricep.
Position while Pushing the Bar Away
This might sound insignificant, but you must maintain your form while pushing the bar away from your body. Ensure that your shoulders stay back and you exhale while you push it up. At the same time, your body might lay on the bench in a backward position while doing so.
Sets, Reps, Programming Recommendations for Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is an upper body exercise that you must inculcate in your daily workout routine.
Generally, you can do five sets of twelve reps each. If you are more comfortable with it, you can stretch it to twenty reps. But ensure that you are using the weights you are comfortable in. Challenge yourself but not to the extent where you could potentially hurt yourself.
Variations of Close Grip Bench Press
There are several variations of the close grip bench press that can target your tricep muscles. According to Home Gym Exercises, the following are some of the variations of close grip bench presses:
Incline Bench Press
This exercise targets tricep muscles, deltoids, pectoralis major, and serratus anterior. You only require a barbell and bench for this.
Decline Bench Press with Dumbbells
This targets the pectoralis major along with triceps and deltoids. As evident from the name, you will require a bench and two dumbbells for this.
Incline Bench Press with Dumbbells
This exercise targets tricep muscles, deltoids, pectoralis major, and serratus anterior. You will need two dumbbells and a bench to perform this exercise.
It targets tricep muscles, deltoids, pectoralis major, and serratus anterior. You only require two dumbbells and a mat for this exercise.
This exercise targets tricep muscles, deltoids, pectoralis major, and serratus anterior. You will need a barbell and a workout partner (spotter) for this.
Safety & Precautions for Close Grip Bench Press
The following are some of the precautionary tips that you must keep in your back pocket while performing the close grip bench press:
- Do not overdo the exercise by increasing the weights. Limit yourself to your comfort level, at least in the beginning.
- Always use a spotter or smith machine.
- Maintain a steady grip while holding the bar.
- Do not keep your hands too close to each other. Shoulder width is considered to be appropriate.
- Keep your elbows close to your body.
- Do not lose form in the middle of the exercise.
- Your thumbs and fingers should be wrapped around the bar.
- Skip this exercise if you are experiencing pain in the shoulders or wrists.
Alternatives of Close Grip Bench Press
Are you tired of doing the close grip bench press every day? Do not worry as we have the following alternatives for you:
- Leg press
- Overhead press
- Barbell bench press
- Tricep Dip
- Cable Cross over
- Barbell military press
- Skull crushers
- Lying triceps extension