The close-grip bench press is a great mass builder for your triceps. But then you have to avoid these four execution mistakes.
1. USING A GRIP THAT IS TOO NARROW
With the close- or narrow-grip bench press you naturally use a narrower grip than with the conventional bench press. But don’t overdo it: a more or less shoulder-wide grip (or slightly narrower) is sufficient. For us that is with the index fingers just not on the smooth middle part of the rod.
A grip that is too narrow is not only at the expense of the range of motion, but also puts an unnecessary burden on your wrist joint and also makes it more difficult to stabilize the weight.
2. NOT SQUEEZING THE SHOULDER BLADES TOGETHER
With a narrow bench press you use largely the same shape as with the regular bench press. The set-up is no different either.
Lie on the bench, squeeze your shoulder blades together and press them down. Your trapezius and buttocks are firmly on the bench; a small arch in your lower back is allowed. Hold this pose throughout the exercise.
Keeping your shoulder blades ‘flat’ on the bench will significantly increase the stress on your shoulder joints. The fact that the close-grip bench press as a whole is less taxing on your shoulders than the conventional one does not change that.
3. KEEPING THE ELBOWS TOO CLOSE TO THE BODY
Due to the narrower grip, your elbows will automatically protrude a little less. However, don’t keep them too close to your body, no matter what form nazis try to instill in you. If your elbows are too inward, your torso will roll forward and you will not be able to maintain the correct shoulder blade position (see point 2).
Keep your elbows about 30 degrees from your torso. With a regular bench press, they are at about 45 degrees.
4. NOT LOWERING THE BAR BELOW THE CHEST
A narrower grip also has consequences for the path of movement that the bar must follow.
Normally, the bar drops from above your shoulders to the middle of your chest and you push it back in that direction (not straight up). With the close-grip press you start above the middle of the chest and lower the bar to slightly below your chest. So a bit lower than normal. You hold that position for a moment, after which you press the bar again over the same path, so until it is again above the middle of your chest.
A Swiss bar or multi-grip bar allows you to perform the exercise with a neutral grip. That makes it easier to keep your elbows close to your body and because of your hand position your triceps have to work even harder.