Bench pressing is a very versatile workout as it trains three muscle groups and has many variations that focus on different muscles in those groups, this is what makes bench pressing so popular.
When performing a variation of the bench press, it is important to know which muscles you are focusing on, how to properly train those muscles using that variation and how often you should bench press to get the muscle growth you're aiming for. The close grip bench press is a useful variation of the bench press which focuses on training your arms but also trains much of your upper body.
When bench pressing of any variation, you are working three muscle groups, the chest, arms, and shoulders. However, the bench press only works certain muscles in the arms and shoulders.
This article will explore the different muscles used while doing a close grip bench press and how to do a close grip bench press safely and properly.
How To Do A Close Grip Bench Press
For a close grip bench press, you will need a flat bench and a bar, lie down on the flat bench making sure your back is straight and your spine is neutral. Make sure that your feet are planted firmly on the floor.
The close grip bench press is all about hand placement, you should have your hands directly over your shoulders, they can be slightly closer than that but be careful as if they are too close together they can cause instability and possible injury to your wrist.
To stabilize your body, brace your core and squeeze your shoulder blades together, then slowly lower the bar toward your chest, keep your elbows to the side and emphasize your triceps.
Then you can slowly lift the bar until your elbows are straight, repeat this for the number of sets you find comfortable with the weight that you have.
When performing a bench press of any variation we recommend that you have a spotter, even if you are comfortable with the weight on the bar. We also recommend that you practice your form with just the bar and no weight at first, as it is proven that form does more to muscle growth than weight.
How To Do A Close Grip Dumbbell Bench Press
The close grip dumbbell bench press is very similar to the close grip bench press but allows you more control over each side of your body. Instead of using a bar, you use two dumbbells.
When lying on the bench as you would in a close grip bench press, hold a pair of dumbbells to your chest touching each other. Make sure your hands are facing each other with a tight grip.
Slowly lift the two dumbbells above your chest making sure they do not drift too far away from each other, and then bring them back down to your chest slowly, pushing your elbows out to the side.
Using dumbbells instead of a bar can help you focus on each side of your body a bit more to pinpoint which side is weaker. If you want, you can even train one side at a time, just make sure when lifting the dumbbell it stays straight above your chest and doesn’t wander too wide.
How To Do A Diamond Press-Up
A diamond press-up is a variation of the close grip bench press that doesn’t require a bench or a bar. It is a perfect alternative to the close grip bench press if you are working out from home or you don’t have someone to spot you while doing a bench press.
The diamond press-up still works the same muscles as a close grip bench press so you aren’t missing out on anything by doing it instead of the close grip bench press.
To perform a diamond press-up, get into a traditional press-up position, but put your hands directly under your chest, position your thumb and index finger on each hand so they are touching the opposite thumb and index finger to form the outline of a diamond.
Bend your elbows to the side to lower yourself to the floor, do this gradually and slowly to keep form and not lose balance. Then push yourself back up to the starting position.
What Muscles Does A Close Grip Bench Press Work?
The traditional bench press works three muscle groups, the chest, arms, and shoulders. The close grip bench press also works these same muscle groups and very similar muscles to the traditional bench press.
However, the close grip bench press has a focus on certain muscles that the traditional bench press does not focus on. Here’s a brief guide on which muscles in each muscle group the close grip bench press works in relation to the traditional bench press.
The main muscle that is trained during any variation of the bench press is the chest. The chest is made up of one major muscle called the pectoralis major, or the ‘pec’.
The pec consists of two different heads, the sternocostal head, which is the bigger of the heads and connects your upper arm to your ribcage, and the clavicular head that sits on top of the sternocostal head and connects your upper arm to your collarbone.
Because the close grip bench press is very similar to the traditional bench press in terms of body placement, you are lying on your back and pushing a bar straight up in front of you, it is the sternocostal head doing the majority of the work as it is the bigger muscle.
However, the clavicular head is still worked during a close grip bench press.
The arms are what the close grip bench press focuses on. A traditional bench press will train the triceps as the triceps are used to push your forearm away from your upper arm.
The close grip bench press pushes the arms inward over the shoulder and makes your triceps do more work when pushing the bar upwards than they would in a traditional bench press.
This workout is fantastic for building up your triceps. The close grip bench press also works your forearms as there is more control needed at the front of your arms, tightening your forearms and giving them a healthy workout.
The shoulder muscle group are made up of three muscles called deltoids or ‘delts’, these are the anterior delts that are found on the front of your shoulders, the posterior delts that are on the back of your shoulders, and the lateral delts that are on the top of your shoulders.
The traditional bench press and the close grip bench press don’t necessarily change focus on any of the shoulder muscles. The only shoulder muscle in use during these variations of bench press is the anterior deltoid, which helps with pushing your arms out in front of your chest.
The close grip bench press is a fantastic variation of bench press for focusing on your arms, it gives your triceps and forearms a good workout while still training your chest and shoulders.
It is important to remember when doing close grip bench presses to not lift the same amount of weight you would with a traditional bench press, as the close grip is harder to control.