Creatures of habit like us humans find comfort in rituals. Who doesn’t drive the same way to work or frequent a favorite restaurant by default, and order the same dish every time?

Well, your training can go on autopilot, too. Think close-grip bench presses for bigger, stronger triceps and you automatically head to the flat bench-press barbell station. Not this time. Like stopping at an unfamiliar restaurant where you’re not sure what to order, doing decline close-grip benches with dumbbells is destined to get your chest and triceps’ muscle growth cooking. Follow these steps and get it right.


1. Adjust the decline bench to about a 30-40-degree angle.
2. Hook your feet under the roller pads, weights in hands, and lie back on the bench.
3. Your head, shoulders and glutes should fully contact the bench, with a slight arch in your lumbar spine. Keep your elbows tucked in by your sides. Don’t “flare.”
4. Position the weights so your palms face each other (neutral grip) but are slightly separated. They can rest on your body at the start.


1. Extend your arms straight above you. Keep the weights separated so that each arm works independently to balance the weight. Press up to full arm extension and flex your triceps as hard as you can for a second.
2. Lower the dumbbells to the sides of your lower chest, stopping just short of allowing the weights to touch you.
3. Repeat for reps.


1. Use a spotter. He or she can not only assist with safety concerns but also remove the weights as you complete each set, helping to protect your shoulder joints from injury.
2. Push the weights straight up, not back over your face.
3. Try and keep the dumbbells separated by about 2 inches through the range of motion.
4. This movement also targets the lower-to-middle chest, so you can even do it as a last exercise on chest day, especially if you follow with triceps.
5. This exercise can also be performed unilaterally (one arm at a time). Begin with the dumbbells in the start position, perform one full repetition with one arm, then repeat the motion with your opposite arm. For added tension, keep your non-working arm in the extended position throughout the set as you alternate sides.