Close Grip Bench Press With a Twist

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Below you can read about a small technical trick on a basically really simple exercise: the close grip bench press, which will hopefully help you feel this exercise in your triceps for real.

Close grip bench press as a triceps exercise

True. This article is primarily meant for those who look at the close grip bench press mostly as a triceps exercise. In this case it is important to point out that our goal is not to increase pressing performance. Therefore, the weight used is of secondary importance. Anyway, you won’t be able to do this exercise with as much weight as when using the traditional technique.

The traditional technique

How to do the close grip bench press in a way that it (mostly) goes for your triceps? Bottom line: keep your elbows close to your body. Apart from that, both the pressing move and the location of the lowest point are basically the same as in the case of the regular bench press.

Lower the bar above the top of your chest

Now let’s try something. Lighten load. Believe me: it will be necessary. Lie down under the bar. Lift it out of the forks using a grip that is slightly narrower than shoulder width. Using a much closer grip would jeopardize your wrists. Lower the bar slowly, but not where you used to (to the breastbone, below your chest), but slightly above, to the upper part of your chest. It is best if the bar doesn’t even touch the upper part of your chest but you stop it 1 or 2 cm above. You don’t need to pay attention to the position of your elbows now; you’ll see that you cannot keep your elbows near your body this way. But you don’t need to. Keep them naturally, as they stand by themselves. The movement will look like something in between a tricep extension and a press. You can use a slightly heavier weight as in the case if tricep extensions and, since you do not lower the bar to your chest, you can provide extra concentrated, continuous load for your triceps. You will hardly feel your chest or your shoulders (provided that you are not involving them in the move).

What you can win

First, you can work your triceps in a much more concentrated manner as you would with the traditional close grip bench press. Plus, you can use a heavier weight as in the case of the supine tricep extension, which also works the triceps in a concentrated manner. You’ll see that your triceps will feel extremely pumped after only 10-12 reps.

When to do it

Do this exercise at the beginning of your triceps workout. Similarly to the regular close grip bench press, it counts as a compound exercise, so you can use a heavy load. If you are more experienced, you may try supersets with pre-exhaustion, by doing 10-15 rope extensions and then doing the presses as described above, without rest. But this would definitely be too much for beginners!

To wrap it up: feel free to vary close grip bench presses or any other exercise. Don’t be afraid to experiment: who knows when you will find a variant that works much better for you than the basic version.

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