The close grip bench press is a pressing movement that will target working primarily the tricep muscles as well as the inner portion of the chest muscles and the front portion of the shoulders.  You can opt to use either a standard straight barbell or an EZ (curved) barbell.  To perform the movement, you will want to use a hand spacing that is between 8 inches and shoulder width apart.  EZ barbells are a little easier to handle for closer hand spacing than are straight barbells.  Hand spacing should not exceed shoulder with apart as this will become more of a chest instead of a tricep workout.


You will begin the movement, by lying on a barbell bench (this could be positioned in a decline, fat or inclined orientation to slightly change the emphasis on how the muscles are worked), you will have a loaded barbell (straight or EZ) with the appropriate weight (this will be much less than you would use for barbell bench pressing, start out with light weight until you get the feel for how much you should be using).  In position, you will grab the barbell at the desired hand spacing that is shoulder width or less and lift the weight into the upward position with arms extended (slightly bent, never fully locked out).  You will then lower the weight to the downward position where the barbell is just slightly above the chest (no bouncing off the chest as this is poor form and dangerous) and press upward.  Repeat this movement for the desired number of repetitions.  Unlike when performing a standard wide grip bench press, when lowering and raising the weight here, you will want to keep your elbows close to the body.


The close grip bench press is a compound exercise that can be the primary exercise for a tricep workout or as a supplemental exercise for a chest workout.  While the movement is a pressing motion very similar to that of dumbbell bench presses and pushups (wider hand spaced), it does have a very different muscle emphasis.


To increase the difficulty of the exercise and the work it places on the tricep muscles, repetitions could be performed at a slower pace.  Performing a single repetition on a 10 count (about 10 seconds) is intense and doing several sets with repetitions like this will really make the muscles scream.  Also pre exhausting the triceps muscles with another exercise like cable pushdowns or parallel bar dips before performing this one will make the muscles really work.


Before beginning any weight training program, it’s best to consult with a physician to ensure you are healthy enough to handle the physical stresses encountered by the body when performing these types of exercises.  Always use caution when performing any exercise movement, especially if one you are unfamiliar with.  To reduce the likely hood of injury, it’s wise to spend sometime, especially early on in your training with a physical trainer.



Kennedy, Robert. (1998). Basic Routines for Massive Muscles. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company.