A close-grip bench press is any grip that is shoulder-width or closer. Most bodybuilders use a very- close grip (about six inches apart). The closer you go, the better you hit your triceps.


Going with a shoulder-width grip is as close as you need to go to blast the triceps with heavy weight and stimulate real growth.


  • Research from the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine reported that subjects using a grip with their hands spaced about six inches apart utilized no more triceps muscle fibers than when they used a shoulder-width grip for close-grip bench presses.
  • Earlier research has also shown that using a grip closer than shoulder width did not increase triceps involvement, but did increase the stress placed on the wrists.
  • Going closer than shoulder width on close-grip bench presses reduces the amount of weight you can use, which reduces the overload placed on the triceps and the potential for muscle growth.


When doing close-grip bench presses, a shoulder-width grip will maximize the amount of triceps muscle fibers involved and the amount of weight used, while minimizing stress on the wrists.


Do close-grip bench presses using a shoulder-width grip at the start of your triceps workouts, when the triceps are strongest. This will allow you to train with maximal poundage and place the greatest overload on the triceps. Shoot for sets in the six- to eight-rep range and do three or four sets. Then move on to isolation exercises, such as extensions and pushdowns.