Close Grip Bench Press

Close Grip Bench Press


Execution Cues:

- Set the bar up so it is about 1.5-2 inches lower than your full lockout position. This means that you should be able to clear the J-hooks by about an inch when unracking and racking the bar. 

- Make sure that your eyes are right under the bar when you are lying down. Feet should be flat and not move AT ALL throughout the set. Glutes should be contracted and hips slightly abducted to create a wide base. Low back should be slightly arched so that only your glutes, upper back and head are in contact with the bench. 

- Before unracking, ensure that your shoulder blades are retracted and depressed (think back and down) in order to keep your lats tight and shoulders stable. 

- Place your hands on the bar in your normal bench press position and then move them in about 1.5-2 inches on either side. Those with larger frames and wider initial grips may need to adjust more.

- As you unrack the bar, make sure to get it over the "lip" of the J-hooks and bring it over your shoulders. Your arms should now be perpendicular to the floor. 

- The eccentric should follow a path in line with your sternum. This lower touch point will necessitate keeping the elbows more "tucked" and closer to the torso. 

- Think about "bringing the chest to meet the bar" as you get closer to the bottom of the range of motion. Once you touch your chest softly, reverse the motion back to lockout with arms again perpendicular to the floor. 

- Throughout the whole rep, keep the forearms vertical with wrists directly over the elbows. Elbows should stay tucked in to better bias the triceps. Shoulder blades should stay "down and back" to prevent instability and "dumping" at the bottom.



- Poor shoulder mobility

- Poor mobility in lumbar and thoracic spine

- Weakness in mid-back and lats

- Low back pain (anything that is worsened by lumbar extension)

- Shoulder pain (anything that is worsened by loaded flexion/extension)

- Elbow pain 

- Wrist pain (anything that is worsened by load bearing)

- Women with breast augmentations



- Close Grip Pushups Against Bar

- Close Grip Pushups 

- Close Grip Machine Press

- Neutral Flat DB Press 

- Neutral DB Floor Press 

- Close Grip Barbell Floor Press 

- Swiss Bar Floor Press 

- Close Grip Smith Machine Press 

- Close Grip Spoto Press

- Close Grip Pin Press



- Swiss Bar Bench Press

- Close Grip Bench Press Against Chains

- Close Grip Bench Press Against Bands

- Reverse Band Close Grip Bench Press


Volume Parameters:

-3-5 sets per week (Specific to use as Primary movement)

-3-8 rep range (Specific to use as Primary movement)


Applicable Intensity Techniques:

-Rest Pause Sets

-Cluster Sets 

-Accommodating Resistance

-Supersetting with an isolation movement first (like a cable pushdown) to prioritize the triceps


Programming Considerations:

Close Grip Bench Presses are interesting as most would consider them to be an accessory movement to the traditional Bench Press, but in fact, they can function very well as a primary movement on their own. Though the more narrow grip is a mechanical limitation, the actual force output reduction is not as steep as one would think. This means that higher percentages of the Bench Press one-rep-max can be used, and the absolute intensity drop-off is minimal (while the relative intensity can actual scale up more safely).

Of course, using the CGBP as a secondary or accessory movement can also be highly efficacious if the goal is more hypertrophy in nature. The mechanical demand placed on the triceps with moderate-to-high volumes of sufficiently intense CGBP work is very hard to replicate outside of elbow extension variations that can naturally lend themselves towards greater sheering forces at the joint (think heavy skullcrushers and how they feel on most people's elbows). In my mind, this feature separates the CGBP (and variants of it) from other triceps movements when it comes to sustainable hypertrophy. 

Because of the vast spectrum of regressions and progressions that can stem from the barbell version, there is a benefit to be had for any trainee. Beginners should first master the close grip pushups and slowly work their way up the chain adding complexity over time. Advanced individuals can add intensity techniques, accommodating resistance (bands and chains), and tempo/pause work to create a greater stimulus than they would otherwise get and force that overload. For some women with breast augmentations, the CBBP will actually be the best horizontal pressing pattern due to the less severe shoulder abduction (this is highly individual and may still be contraindicated). Those with chronic elbow injuries generally find that they can counterintuitively perform close grip press variants without pain due to the force vectors and torque at the elbow (again, highly individual). Strength athletes looking to break through plateaus have often seen great results with implementing phases of close grip prioritization to ensure that their lockout is solidified. 

In my experience, the main thing to keep an eye on with consistent implementation of close grip pressing is potential wrist discomfort that begins to set in. This is generally mitigated with proper grip width, utilizing a "stacked" position with minimal extension, and knowing how and when to use wrist wraps for additional support. Though overuse injuries and signs of wear-and-tear can be game-planned against, it is a good idea to cycle all close grip patterns out of the program every 16-24 weeks as a precautionary measure against dysfunction and staleness. 


Primary Use Case:

-Hypertrophy of Triceps

-Increased Strength in Pressing Movements (Especially at lockout)

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