Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Chest, Shoulders
Target Muscle Group


Triceps Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Close Grip Bench Press Overview

The close grip bench press is a variation of the bench press and an exercise used to build muscle and strength in the triceps. The movement will also indirectly target the muscles of the chest and shoulders.

The close grip bench press is a superior movement when we’re talking about exercises that will pack mass onto your triceps. That said, use of close grips can provide some shoulder and elbow discomfort for some.

This exercise can be included in your tricep workouts, push workouts, upper body workouts, and full body workouts.

Close Grip Bench Press Instructions

  1. Lie flat on a bench and set your hands at shoulder width.
  2. Set your shoulder blades by pinching them together and driving them into the bench.
  3. Take a deep breath and allow your spotter to help you with the lift off in order to maintain tightness through your upper back.
  4. Let the weight settle and ensure your upper back remains tight after lift off.
  5. Inhale and allow the bar to descend slowly by unlocking the elbows.
  6. Lower the bar in a straight line to the base of the sternum (breastbone) and touch the chest.
  7. Push the bar back up in a straight line by pressing yourself into the bench, driving your feet into the floor for leg drive, and extending the elbows.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Close Grip Bench Press Tips

  1. Technique first, weight second - no one cares how much you bench if you get injured.
  2. Keep the bar in line with your wrist and elbows and ensure it travels in a straight line. To keep the wrist straight, try to position the bar as low in the palm as possible while still being able to wrap the thumb.
  3. If you want to keep more tension through the triceps and chest, stop each repetition just short of lockout at the top.
  4. The elbows will be tucked more than a normal bench due to the decrease grip width but if you experience shoulder pain during this variation you may have to slightly tweak grip width and elbow tuck to provide more space within the shoulder capsule.
  5. Arching may be advisable depending upon your goals but ensure that most of the arch comes from the mid to upper back and not your lower back. If your lower back is cramping as you set up for the lift, you’re out of position and putting yourself at risk for potential injury.
  6. The bar should touch your chest with every single repetition. If you want to overload specific ranges of motion, look into board presses or accommodating resistance with chains or bands.
  7. As the bar descends, aim for your sternum (breastbone) or slightly below depending upon the length of your upper arm to promote a linear bar path.
  8. Intermediate and advanced lifters may use a thumbless or “suicide” grip but for the majority of lifters, it would be wiser to learn how to bench with the thumb wrapped around the bar at first.
  9. Fight to the urge to allow the wrists to roll back into extension, think about rolling your knuckles toward the ceiling.
  10. Experiment with grip width - if your have longer arms you may need to use a slightly wider grip. However, if you’re feeling pressure in the front of the shoulder during the exercise, you may need to widen your grip, improve scapular retraction, or slightly lessen the range of motion via exercises such as floor or board presses.
  11. Squeeze the bar as tightly as possible to help enhance shoulder stability.
  12. Some lifters prefer to tuck their toes while other prefer to keep the feet flat to optimize leg drive - experiment with both and see which one feels and allows for greater power production.
  13. Ensure the shoulder blades remain retracted and don’t allow them to change position as you press.
  14. The bar should descend under control and touch the lifter’s chest - no bouncing or excess momentum.
  15. Think about trying to push yourself away from the bar instead of pushing the bar off of you.
  16. Tightness through the upper back should be one of your main priorities throughout the course of the lift.
  17. Ideally, use a spotter to help assist with the lift off in order to maintain tension through the upper back.
  18. Keep the feet quiet throughout the lift and utilize leg drive by pushing your feet into the floor and squeezing your glutes to stabilize the pelvis.
  19. Focus on pulling the bar apart or trying to “bend the bar” to activate some of the intrinsic stabilizers in the shoulder.
  20. The glutes and shoulder blades should maintain contact with the bench throughout the entirety of the movement.
Posted on: Thu, 04/03/2014 - 03:57

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Posted on: Sat, 02/08/2014 - 16:43

This is one of my favorite exercises, and I would strongly recommend it for beginners (I'm a beginner) because it's easy and it works. (Just make sure you have a spotter or a smith machine.) I've found that skull crushers only work the portion of the tricep near my elbow. I'm not strong enough to do dips. Cable pull-downs are OK, but I tend to cheat by leaning on the cable. For me, close grip bench press can't be cheated. You either push up the bar or you don't.

Posted on: Fri, 04/17/2015 - 23:43

This is one of my favourites too. I find using a closer grip (about 5 to 6 inches) and elbows in hits the inside head of the tris as do the 'skull crushers', while a slightly wider grip (8 to 10) and elbows out hits the outer tris very effectively, and you can use a lot of weight...as for dips...they are tough, so nothing wrong with standing on something to partially assist with the 'up' (positive) part until strong enough to do it alone...I did the same thing with pullups...it does hurt the ego for a while, but it's the result that counts! I find facing the lat pulldown machine for triceps pressdowns is very effective for the lateral tris.

Posted on: Sat, 12/21/2013 - 08:49

I found these very hard but also very rewarding. Will be doing these alongside dips for my Triceps.

Posted on: Tue, 12/03/2013 - 06:13

Do some warm up sets then 2 at your max weight for 6-10 reps the go light for a couple of sets untill it feels like burning. This works for me.

Posted on: Sat, 10/26/2013 - 19:20

In the programme it says that only 2 sets should be done for this exercise. It seems a little, would it be more appropriate to do 3-4 sets like the other exercises?

Posted on: Sun, 09/08/2013 - 15:12

I'm extremely inspired together with your writing abilities as smartly as with the format for your weblog. Is that this a paid topic or did you customize it your self? Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..

Scott P
Posted on: Mon, 08/26/2013 - 07:44

I plan to start this today - hope it works

Amit kumar
Posted on: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 02:26

Close Grip Bench good for fitness and bodybuilding.

Amit kumar
Posted on: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 07:50

Hello sir
Your video is not playing

raj kumar
Posted on: Mon, 08/26/2013 - 05:48

thn plzzz dnt even try to watch it ad i thnk tht ur t nt intrested in work out.......

Posted on: Fri, 08/02/2013 - 06:04

Correct me if I'm wrong but he is locking his elbows in that video????

Posted on: Sun, 03/24/2013 - 00:26

The CGBP, with elbows in, as in the video, is great for the ‘long head’ of the tris, (the one closest to your body). The lying ‘skull crusher’ targets the same head. If you want that super flare on the outside of your upper arm in a very short time (lateral head; you know, the one that catches their eye when you shake hands?), you need to do CGBP with elbows out and a slightly wider grip (experiment to find the best pos for you), and use some heavy weight. (Close grip pushups are also great for the outside head; try them ‘super slow’).

Posted on: Thu, 01/31/2013 - 17:56

The instructions say "don't let the bar touch your chest and do not lock your elbows." The video shows the opposite. Also noticed that he's using a "suicide" grip on the bar. Anywho its a great workout.

Posted on: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 16:44

Can you do this exercise with dumbells?

Adam Haze
Posted on: Tue, 11/20/2012 - 04:59
Posted on: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 04:34

Thanks AH!

Dare Ajayi
Posted on: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 13:14

I started seeing good result with two weeks....awesome workout

Posted on: Mon, 08/06/2012 - 04:57

Hi, right now I'm doing these as a superset with skull crushers.... Usually, 8 skull crushers, then 8-10 C.G.B.P. Love the 'burn' I get from it, but I'm just wondering what you guys think?

Posted on: Fri, 08/10/2012 - 17:34

I havent tried these yet but I've been doing skull crushers for some time. What other tricep work out do you do with these two?

Posted on: Sun, 03/24/2013 - 00:59

Hi Joshua, good on you for hitting the tris as you are doing. As long as you are aware that the two exercises hit the same head of the tris, namely the inner head (near your body). I reckon that it's important to hit each head of the tris, so perhaps you should also think about using an ex for the middle head, (maybe CG dips with elbows in), and one for the outer head (maybe CGBP with elbows out). Keep pumping!

francis yaw dwira jr
Posted on: Tue, 05/08/2012 - 04:25

The close grip bench press is a major mass builder for the triceps.

Posted on: Wed, 03/21/2012 - 08:54

how this excercise is compared to the skull-crusher in terms of muscle building? I mean which helps building more muscle mass?

Posted on: Fri, 03/23/2012 - 22:26

Close grip is better at building mass coz its a compound movement and compound movements are the best 4 building mass..

Posted on: Sun, 03/11/2012 - 19:14

Damn these hurt, but there well worth it