Discover which close grip bench press benefits are most desirable to you.
In this article, I’ve listed and described all the top advantages of this popular exercise.
Top 3 Close Grip Bench Press Benefits
Benefit #1: Focus On Muscle AND/OR Strength Gains
Probably the best of all the close grip bench press benefits is the ability to use it to build muscle and/or strength. If that doesn’t make sense right away, let me explain.
In this regard, the close grip bench press is unique because it has the versatility to be used as a means to achieve a wide variety of ends…
…You can use it to accomplish any of the 3 goals in the bulleted list below:
Written directly below is the definition of load intensity, a term that you’ll see mentioned several times in the ensuing bullet points.
Load intensity refers to a given trainee’s subjective valuation of the “heaviness” of weight used (i.e. how heavy it feels to the trainee). It is sometimes expressed quantitatively, as a percentage of the trainee’s one repetition max on a given exercise.
- Maximize Strength Gains. With the exception of rack lockouts, the close grip bench press allows you to safely handle the heaviest loads of any triceps exercise. You’re able to safely lift potentially very heavy loads on this exercise, because of the biomechanical advantages inherent in this (and any other) compound horizontal press. That is, your triceps get assistance from the chest and front deltoids; and your torso acts as a large and stable base of support, from which to generate power. This – combined with using a high load intensity for low reps (1-5 rep max) and increasing your lifts over time – is the textbook “equation” for gaining strength:
- Maximize Muscle Gains. Not only does this compound movement stimulate your triceps using surprisingly heavy loads, but it does so through a long range of motion (ROM). And since you get relatively little assistance from other muscle groups, the triceps overwhelmingly do the work. This – in conjunction with a moderate load intensity, a moderate to high rep range (8-15 rep max), and progressively increasing the load over time – fits the “equation” for gaining muscle mass:
- Maximize Combined Muscle + Strength Gains. To clarify, this bullet point refers to the goal of achieving the optimal mix of muscle and strength gains. So instead of gaining nearly all muscle at the expense of strength, or vice versa, you aim for an even balance of simultaneous progress in both muscle and strength gains. This is accomplished using moderate to higher load intensity with low to moderate reps (5-8 rep max), among various other factors showin in the “equation” below:
Note: The “equations” above are not real scientific equations. I made them up and presented them this way, though, for a specific reason…
…It’s a good visual show which characteristics an exercise must possess and how it should be performed, to achieve different goals. As we saw, the close grip bench can be used to achieve for all 3 of the goals discussed.
(BTW, If you’re someone who’s terrible at math, I apologize for the confusion I surely caused with these images. :-p )
Benefit #2: Increase Your Bench Press
The next of the close grip bench press benefits I’ll mention is the its propensity to boost your bench strength.
There is one major way, and a couple smaller ways, in which it does this. I’ll explain each:
- As discussed earlier, the close grip bench press significantly increases triceps strength. Stronger triceps play the most major role in increasing bench press strength. After all, the triceps play a major role in the traditional bench press exercise.
- The front deltoids are involved in the close grip bench. And although their involvement is limited, they nonetheless play a minor role in increasing your bench numbers.
- The chest muscles are only trained peripherally in the close grip bench press. However, they still play a noteworthy role in producing a bigger bench press.
Benefit #3: Enjoy a Hassle-Free Setup
The last of the close grip bench press benefits I’ll discuss is the great ease of setting it up.
Obviously, this is an immediate benefit. Not a long-term one. But it is a benefit that deserves mention, nonetheless.
For example, with weighted triceps dips, you must attach weight to your body with a dip belt. Adding/removing weight plates onto/off of the belt can be a tedious process.