How to Perform the Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press differs from the traditional bench press in that you bench press with a closer grip. This position emphasizes increasing the strength and size of the triceps and chest muscles.
Practicing a firm grip is a great way to add variety to your upper body and train your muscles. Athletes who use close thrusting actions, such as in soccer, basketball or rugby, especially benefit from this type of sport-specific exercise, according to the research.
Pressing with a tight grip is also beneficial for lifters with shoulder injuries who cannot perform a traditional bench press. When the grip width is reduced, this creates less shoulder abduction, presumably to limit the stress placed on the shoulder joint.
You may be new to weightlifting or a seasoned lifter looking to improve your upper body routine. Adding the clenched-fist bench press to your program would be an easily modified top move for every fitness level.
Seeking the guidance of a qualified personal trainer may be a good idea at first, until you are comfortable with the exercise.
The close grip bench press is an upper body exercise that targets the triceps muscles. The secondary muscles involved are the chest and shoulders. Using a tight grip is a great alternative method of increasing your upper body pushing power.
Because the chest and shoulders support the movement, the close grip has the potential to lift heavier loads and gain maximum strength gain. Combined with the position of the body in the seat, the movement can be performed safely and with increasing resistance.
The close grip puts most of the workload on the triceps for maximum muscle development. Increasing muscle size is a common goal among athletes, bodybuilders, and bodybuilders.
Bench pressing with a close grip promotes overall muscle balance as strength and muscle gains increase progressively and simultaneously. This has been shown to improve muscle function and symmetry, another common goal for weightlifters.
Lifters who experience shoulder discomfort with the traditional press can benefit from a tighter grip. A narrow grip is shown to reduce shoulder strain and help lifters successfully support a heavier load. Even though your triceps are the main drivers, you are still using your chest and shoulders to some degree.
The close grip bench press is a superior movement to include in pushing or upper extremity exercises to increase muscle size and strength. The following instructions will help you perform the exercise using proper form and technique:
- A spotter or blacksmith is recommended for safety.
- Use a flat bench station or a flat bench / power rack combination.
- Place the bar at the correct reach level on the stand (you can grab / lift the bar from the stand with help).
- Load up the weight resistance according to your fitness level on the bar.
- Lie down on the bench with a close grip (at shoulder height).
- Raise the bar with the help of the rack, your arms locked and holding the bar directly above you.
- Inhale and slowly lower the bar toward your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body throughout the exercise.
- Exhale and push the bar up using your triceps muscles and locking your arms at the beginning of the movement.
- Repeat the exercise for the recommended number of repetitions.
- Put the bar back on the rack after completing the exercise.
The close grip bench press is a great way to add variety to your upper body workout, but there are some common mistakes to avoid during exercise.
Do not use an observer or a Smith machine
If you are new to weightlifting and this exercise, the use of a spotter or blacksmith machine is recommended for safety. When you are comfortable with exercise and an observer is not available, be conservative with weight loads and continue to work out in good form and technique.
Bar bouncing off your chest
Jumping the bar off your chest is an attempt to push a very heavy weight up with momentum. This increases the risk of injury to the sternum and decreases the effectiveness of the exercise.
Close grip pressure should be done slowly and with control from start to finish, using the proper weight resistance. This ensures proper shape and activation of the triceps muscles.
Not using proper adhesion
Maintain a standard grip with your thumb and fingers wrapping around the bar during the exercise. There is an increased risk of falling off the bar and injuring yourself due to a false grip (fingers and thumb on the same side of the bar).
Lifting hips off the bench
Maintain the correct body position on the bench for safe and effective execution of the movement. Lifting your hips off the bench during a press can be an indicator that the weight is too heavy. Reduce weight as needed and pay attention to good body mechanics.
Improper breathing technique
Breathing correctly is an important part of effective weight lifting. Many people hold their breath during the most difficult part of the movement, causing internal body pressure.
Stay in tune with your body and breathing while exercising. Inhale slowly as you lower the bar to your chest and exhale as you push up to the starting position.
Modifications and Variations
The close grip bench press can be performed in a number of ways to suit your fitness level. Remember that a spotter or blacksmith is always recommended for safety with this exercise.
Do you need a modification?
If you're new to weight training, you may want to apply some modifications to the closed-fist bench press as follows:
Do the exercise with an EZ bar if holding the bar causes discomfort to your wrist.
Use dumbbells as an alternative to the bar. In this case, the palms of your hands will face each other while holding the weights.
Ready for a challenge?
The challenge for the closed-fist bench press can be increased by making a few changes, including:
- Build resistance to weight as you gain strength and prepare for an added challenge. Lifting loads must be appropriate for your fitness level for proper and safe execution of the exercise.
- Increase the number of reps per set and challenge the close grip bench press to muscle failure.
- Advanced variations of this exercise include the barbell press, bodyweight, and general pushups.
Safety and precautions
Weight training requires attention to the position, shape and function of the body. Improper performance of any resistance exercise can increase the risk of injury. The following tips will help you perform the close grip bench press safely and effectively:
- It is recommended to use an observer or a blacksmith machine during this exercise.
- Place your hand properly (approximately shoulder height) on the bar to reduce the risk of injury and effectively activate the triceps.
- Keep your elbows close to your body during the movement for proper form and technique.
- Avoid hitting the bar in the chest to reduce the risk of injury. Perform the exercise in a slow, controlled movement from start to finish.
Perform the exercise using the appropriate weight resistance for your fitness level.
- Lifting too much weight increases the risk of injury and does not allow you to complete the movement in good shape.
- Keep your hips on the bench while you exercise.
- Use a standard full bar grip (thumb and fingers around the bar) to prevent it from falling during the exercise.
- Stop exercising if you feel discomfort in your wrist or shoulders that doesn't feel right.
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