Close Grip Barbell Bench Press Exercise Guide

The Close Grip Barbell Bench Press is a compound exercise primarily targeting the triceps and the chest, especially the inner pectorals. By employing a narrower grip on the barbell, the focus shifts from the chest to the triceps, making it an excellent variation for building thick and powerful arms. Executed on a flat bench, the movement involves pressing the barbell upward while keeping the elbows close to the torso, emphasizing the contraction of the triceps at the top of the movement. This exercise not only strengthens the upper body but also promotes a well-defined chest and chiseled triceps.

Target Muscle Group
Exercise Type
Equipment Required
Force Type
Experience Level
Secondary Muscles
Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Shoulders

Step by Step Guide

Set Up & Grip the Barbell

Lay down on a flat bench with your eyes directly under the barbell. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, hip-width apart. Grip the barbell with hands positioned slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Ensure your wrists are straight, and your palms are facing away from you.

Lower the Barbell

With a controlled motion, unrack the barbell and hold it above your chest with arms fully extended. Begin to lower the barbell towards the middle of your chest, ensuring your elbows stay close to your torso throughout the movement. This positioning puts maximum emphasis on the triceps.

Press & Extend

Drive the barbell upwards by pressing through your palms and extending your arms. Engage your triceps and chest throughout the movement. Once your arms are fully extended, you've completed one repetition. Ensure you maintain a controlled pace, avoiding any jerky motions or using momentum. After the desired number of repetitions, safely rack the barbell back into position.

Here are a Few Tips to Keep in Mind When Performing this Exercise.

  • Keep Elbows Tucked In: One of the primary focuses of the close grip bench press is the triceps. Ensure your elbows are tucked close to your body throughout the movement. This not only places more emphasis on the triceps but also reduces stress on the shoulders.
  • Avoid Arching Your Back: While a natural arch in your lower back is acceptable, excessively arching can lead to potential injuries. Ensure your feet are flat on the ground, and your glutes remain in contact with the bench. Engaging your core can also help stabilize your body during the press.
  • Control the Bar Path: Ensure that the barbell moves in a straight line, lowering it to the middle of your chest and pressing it back up directly above the chest. This controlled path provides the most efficient and safe movement, ensuring you're getting the most out of the exercise while minimizing the risk of injury.

Exercise Benefits

  • Enhanced Tricep Strength: The close grip bench press predominantly targets the triceps more than the traditional bench press. Regularly incorporating this exercise into your routine can lead to significant tricep strength gains.
  • Improved Chest Activation: While the primary focus is on the triceps, the close grip bench press also engages the pectoral muscles, especially the inner pecs, aiding in overall chest development.
  • Stronger Wrist and Forearm: The close grip position requires more wrist stability and consequently strengthens the wrists and forearms due to the narrower grip.
  • Versatility in Training: This exercise can serve as an excellent supplement to standard bench pressing, addressing potential weak points in the bench press movement and adding variation to your chest and tricep workouts.
  • Reduced Shoulder Strain: With the elbows tucked close to the body, there's often less strain on the shoulder joint compared to the wide grip bench press. This positioning can be beneficial for those looking to reduce shoulder discomfort or those rehabilitating from shoulder injuries.