top of page

Close Grip Bench Press - Why & How

Welcome to the first of many blogs and videos in our Why & How series. This series will take you through variations of the Big Three (Squat, Bench, and Deadlift) and accessories that help develop movement efficiency in all three competition lifts. Are these movements used in other sports? Sure. Do they carry the same purpose? Sometimes. For the purpose of this series we will be strictly talking about how the chosen exercise aids in the performance of all three competition lifts on meet day.

This week we are looking at the Close Grip Bench Press. Watch or read, you choose!

Why: The close grip bench press allows you to target your triceps and take some load off of your chest/shoulders. In turn, stronger triceps will aid in a more powerful lockout. What is the end game of the bench press you ask, to lock out the lift! In addition to building up the triceps, close grip bench press is a variation of the your competition bench. Being that it is a variation, you can increase the volume and frequency in your bench training by implementing variations close to the competition lift. While the close grip bench press doesn't completely isolate the triceps, it gives you more specificity to the competition lift than let's say tricep extensions. While both are good muscle builders, specificity is key as you work closer to your meet and getting bigger muscles is not the primary goal of a powerlifting program.

How: Your set up is going to be vary similar to your competition set up other than your grip. You still need to maintain your points of anchor - feet, hips, shoulders, and head. However, your grip needs to be directly above the shoulders so that your wrists can stay in line with your elbows. Here are some cues to use as check points when executing the CG bench press.

1. Grip the bar directly above the shoulders

2. Keep wrist in line with elbows.

3. Retract and suppress your shoulders so that they are tight to the bench.

4. Engage and lock in your lats.

5. Take your lift off.

6. Internally rotate at the elbow joint and tuck the elbows in as the bar descends (keep them tucked).

7. Lower the bar with control down to slightly below the chest, touch, and return to start.

*When pressing the bar, maintain tension in your shoulders and lats. Refrain from letting them relax during the entire set.

When: Close grip can be utilized at anytime in your program as a variation of your primary bench. For example, a 3 day split may look like this:

Day 1 - Bench Press (Comp grip)

Day 2 - Bench Press (Comp Grip) + Close Grip Bench Press

Day 3 - Bench Press (Comp Grip) + Floor Press or other variation

Put it this way, if you have weak triceps or have trouble locking out, implementing a close grip variation, increasing frequency, and increasing volume can lead to a stronger bench overall.

Where Strength Builds Confidence - RTBP