How to Do a Close-Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is a variation on the standard bench press that shifts the focus primarily onto the triceps of the upper arm and the pectorals of the chest. The deltoids of the shoulder will get some work as well but are not the main focus. This exercise is a popular addition to upper body weight lifting routines as it can be modified to suit any level of fitness.

This exercise will aid with everyday activities such as those that require pushing or carrying.

How To

  • When performing a close grip bench press, start by lying face up on an exercise bench with both feet planted firmly on the floor. You can use free weights or a barbell on a racking system for more stability.
  • When using a barbell, you should be positioned under the bar so that you can grasp it at about the height of your shoulders. This way you are able to push straight up toward the ceiling. Your hands will be positioned no more than shoulder width apart.
  • Using an overhand grip with the thumb closed over the fingers, lift the barbell from the rack to a straight-armed, locked-elbow position before slowly lowering the bar to just above the chest at about the height of your nipples.
  • Take a breath, then exhale as you push your arms straight out away from the chest. Now slowly lower the barbell back to the start position just above the chest, before repeating the motion for the desired number of repetitions.
  • To finish, extend the arms out straight and slowly arc the barbell back toward the rack uprights. Once in contact, slowly lower the barbell into the rests. Be mindful of the barbell when sitting up.


Depending on the weight load and your fitness level, your choice of repetitions may change. Three sets of 8–10 repetitions is always a good average to aim for. If you are lifting extremely heavy, 4–6 sets of 3–5 repetitions is a good number. Always remember that form is more important than the number of reps performed.


Using dumbbells: If using a barbell is a little too difficult or causes discomfort in your wrists, try a pair of dumbbells. You will still use a closed grip, but the palms will be facing toward each other as you push up and lower.

Exercise ball: If you are confident about performing the close grip bench press, you can use a stability ball in cases where you do not have access to a bench or want to activate the stabilizer muscles in your core. Use caution and be aware of your movement, as a sudden move can cause the ball to roll out from under you. This variation is best performed with dumbbells.

On the floor: If you don’t have access to a bench, you can easily do this exercise from the floor. You can use dumbbells if at home, or use a racking system if you have access. Be mindful not to bang your elbows at the bottom of the movement. Your upper arm should only lightly touch the floor.

Cautionary Notes

Be careful not to snap the elbows into a locked position at the top of the movement. This can be really hard on the joints and lead to injury.

Beginners and those lifting heavier loads should always use a spotter.

Always use a closed grip with thumb and fingers wrapped around either side of the bar. Using a false grip, which sees the thumb on the same side as the fingers, leads to an increased risk of dropping the bar on yourself.

Avoid bouncing the bar off the chest to achieve momentum. This can seriously injure the sternum. The motion should be performed slowly and under control at all times.


More Close-Grip Bench Press Related Resources

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Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press | Exercise Videos & Guides |
How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press | Coach
How to Properly Execute the Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press | Muscle & Fitness
Close Grip Bench Press Form Tips for Stronger Triceps and Chest
3 Close-Grip Bench Press Mistakes and How to Fix Them – BarBend
Close-Grip Bench Press Guide – Form, Hand Placement, Alternatives, and More

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