How to Close Grip Bench Correctly With Proper Form

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INTRODUCTION: THE CLOSE GRIP BENCH EMPHASIZES THE TRICEPS

The Close-Grip Bench Press is one of the best Bench Press variations available.

As the name implies, you bring your hands closer together when compared to the traditional bench press, with your index fingers right at the smooth part of the bar.

This allows more emphasis on the triceps and shoulder muscles while de-emphasizing the chest muscles.


CLOSE GRIP BENCH PRESS FORM VIDEO

BENEFITS OF THE CLOSE-GRIP BENCH PRESS

  • Teaches how to maintain a stable shoulder position for everyday movements

  • Places less stress on the pectoralis tendon, allowing you to train the pressing movement in the presence of minor anterior shoulder discomfort

  • Encourages strength development of the shoulders, and arms which improve lean muscle mass and fat burning

 

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE CLOSE GRIP BENCH PRESS

  • Anterior Deltoids

  • Triceps*

  • Chest

  • Forearms

  • Glutes

PERFORMING THE CLOSE GRIP BENCH PRESS WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE

  • Approach a bench press rack that has a barbell set at a comfortable rack height

  • Retract and squeeze your scapulae together when laying on the bench. Maintain this retracted position throughout the entire lift

  • Set your grip at a distance that is at shoulder width or slightly closer than shoulder width. Keep most (or all) of your fingers on the knurling (not the smooth part) of the barbell

  • Always wrap your thumbs completely around the bar

 

 

  • Place your feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees, and point your feet straight or angled out up to 45 degrees

  • Un-rack the bar and bring the bar out over your chest around the nipple line. Ensure that your scapulae are still retracted

  • Begin lowering the bar by tucking your elbows, more than you would on a traditional Bench Press, roughly at a 30-degree angle

 

  • Touch the bar to your chest just slightly below the nipple and pause for a fraction of a second

  • Reverse the movement by simultaneously contracting your glutes (without elevating your butt off the bench) and pressing the weight up and slightly back towards your face

COMMON CLOSE GRIP BENCH MISTAKES

  • All of the same exact mistakes of the traditional bench press applies here. You can see them here.

INTEGRATING THIS EXERCISE INTO YOUR ROUTINE

Want to know how to use this exercise in your workout?

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How Close Should My Grip be on Close Grip Bench Press?

There is a common misconception that your grip should be very close in the CGBP. Many bodybuilders have popularized the idea of almost having your hands touching during the exercise.

This is unnecessary and can place a lot of strain on your elbows and your wrists.

Any grip that is closer than your normal grip is considered a CGBP. A good rule of thumb is to hold your arms outstretched in front of you- and then focus on squeezing your armpits together tightly. Notice where your arms are. This is a good starting point.

Close Grip Bench Press Alternatives

If for some reason you cannot perform this exercise, there are some alternatives to give you similar benefits.

These include

  • The Close Grip Bench Press with Dumbbells

    • These are performed just like a dumbbell bench press but with a neutral grip (palms facing each other)

  • Close Grip Push-Ups

    • Tuck the elbows so that they are <30 degrees from the body

  • Dips

 

What If I Have Pain During Close Grip Bench Press?

The most common location for pain during this exercise is in the anterior shoulder or in the elbows

Shoulder Pain During Close Grip Bench

If you have pain in your anterior shoulder it is probably because you are allowing your shoulders to roll forward (or internally rotate in the bottom portion of the exercise)

You can prevent this by:

  • Retracting your scapula at all times throughout the movement (see above)

  • Improving your shoulder internal rotation. Check out Top 9 Stretches to Improve Flexibility to learn a great stretch for the shoulders

It should go without saying that you should hold off on performing this exercise if it causes you pain.

 

Elbow Pain During Close Grip Bench

If you have elbow pain during the close grip bench, it is likely due to overuse injury.

The elbows can easily get inflamed from excessive pressing exercises. Give your elbows a break from all exercises that aggravate the pain and concentrate on stretching and massaging your triceps and your forearms. Lacrosse balls are amazing for this.

It is also important to perform forearm strengthening exercises. One my favorite exercises is the forearm wrist roller which you can attach weights to.

Can I perform the Close Grip Bench on a Smith Machine

I do not recommend you perform any major barbell or compound exercise on the smith machine. The smith machine forces your body into contours that are not natural.

The fixed bar path does not allow you to express the full range of motion of your joints which can increase your risk of injury.


CHALLENGE

  • Males: Perform 1.2x your bodyweight for 5 reps

  • Females: Perform 0.75x your bodyweight for 5 reps

CLOSE GRIP BENCH PRESS ALTERNATIVES


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Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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