How much do you bench? Depends if you are doing the traditional bench press or the close grip bench press. Yes, although it sounds like a minor detail, there are some differences you should know that might make you want to add the close grip bench press variation into your training routine.
The close grip bench press is a compound exercise where you lay on a flat bench and you lift a barbell, pressing upwards, although you change the positioning of your grip on the barbell.
After reading this article you should know everything you need to regarding the close grip bench press, such as:
- How to do the close grip bench press
- Mistakes to avoid
- Difference between the close grip bench press and the traditional
- Muscles worked
- Reps and weights you should be doing
Get ready to add some serious gains to your arms.
How To Do the Close Grip Bench Press
As in a normal bench press, you will need a bench, a barbell and desired weights to do the close grip bench press.
- Lay on a flat bench. Make sure you have your feet planted on the floor, providing you with good stability.
- Hold on the barbell with palms facing downwards and with hands inside shoulder width.
- Keep your back flexed and chest up.
- Disengage the barbell from the rack.
- Lower the bar to the below-the-nipple area of your body. The barbell should make contact with the lower chest.
- Keep elbows tucked in at all times, close to your body.
- Press the barbell upwards using your triceps and your chest muscles.
- Slightly contract legs, glutes and back muscles, as they keep your body stable during the press movement.
- Fully extend your arms.
- Slowly lower the barbell until it touches your lower chest again.
- That is one rep.
Mistakes to Avoid
As it is a close grip bench press technique, the most common mistake is hand positioning. Too narrow will put unwanted pressure on your wrists, and too wide will change the exercise altogether.
Some athletes will also not perform the full range of motion, which will greatly hinder your gains. This exercise is heavily focused on the triceps and not contract or extending your arms accordingly while pressing means you are wasting time rather than gaining muscles.
Another common mistake is the weight is too light when doing the close grip bench press. It is still a good arm exercise, but if you can do 20 reps or more with perfect form, perhaps you should be adding another plate to your barbell.
Difference between the close grip bench press and the traditional
Yes, you only change how wide you hold the barbell before pressing the weight, but the implications of this minor detail translate in the muscles worked (which we get into below).
The close grip bench press differentiates from the traditional bench press mainly in two areas: movement pattern and muscles worked.
While holding the bar with less-than-shoulder width, the bar path is different when compared to a traditional bench press.
The end of the bar path will be below the sternum, slightly lower than the traditional bench press.
The bench press is great for upper body hypertrophy. The wider the grip, the more emphasis on your pecs.
The closer grip bench press puts emphasis on your triceps, making it one of the best arm exercises for muscle growth and bigger arms. Here are the muscles worked when you do the close grip bench press:
- Front deltoid
Being able to add weight to the barbell is what makes this exercise one of the go-to for weightlifters that want to pack on extra size and power on their arms.
Reps and weights you should be doing
Now that you know how to do the close grip bench press, how many should you actually be doing?
You probably already know more or less how much you bench, but not in a one-rep-max kind of way, but rather on your normal training routine what weight do you bench press.
As a rule of thumb, consider lifting between 10-20% less while doing the close grip bench press compared to what you usually do on a traditional bench press.
That is because the traditional bench press utilises your pecs, a bigger muscle to lift the barbell, while the close grip bench press relies heavily on your triceps. Even elite athletes lift less with the close grip bench press compared to the standard bench press.
Consider doing one of these exercises routines:
- 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
- 4-6 sets of 3-5 reps
The first is more of an accessory exercise to strength programs, while the second one is directed at people who have muscle hypertrophy as their main objective.