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Better Accessory: Pause Bench or Close Grip?

Which accessory lift is more useful for improving the bench press for a raw lifter between paused bench and close grip bench if choosing just one accessory ?

Always pause your first and/or last rep of every set. I would be doing this regardless of variation as main work.


another vote for paused bench. I basically do all my reps paused (admittedly some are very short pauses) and throw in some close grip bench on days where I just do 1x5RM on comp form.

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Thanks for your replies it’s much appreciated, at the moment i try and pause most of my reps when benching, my question is more for my second day as the program i’m following includes a 6x2 day which i was planning on either performing close grip or extended pauses for…based on the replies i will go with the extended pauses…thanks again.

It’s worth doing some touch and go work to train the stretch reflex, with whatever grip. Close grip is a good variation to increase your bench.

Why only one bench variation?

What is the best exercise will vary from person to person.


Agree with the others.

I personally like pause bench, because my main weakness is 2-3 inches off the chest.

I like deficit bench with blocks too, hits my sticking points fairly well.

Thanks again for everyone’s input…My weakness is usually half way up rather than off the chest however i’ve read that if you build enough force off the chest you can drive through the midway sticking point.

Chris my reason for just one accessory is that the program i’m following doesn’t really advise any extra exercises however as one of the sessions always stays the same ie 6x2 i have decided to make it either a close grip session or an extended paused session as i believe it will be beneficial having used the close grip bench when i followed a similar program in the past.

You do a block with pause benching. You track the result.

You do a block with close grip. You track the result.

You do this over enough blocks and you find out which one works for you.


That makes a lot of sense, another reason to give extended pauses a blast.

Was going to say the same. Whatever you choose, at some point your body will adapt to it and eventually the marginal benefit will get smaller. For some hypertrophy type accessory, it makes total sense to do a 6-12w block of one, track your performance and the move onto another accessory. If the main goal is a stronger plifting bench, make sure you dont “waste” a block with an accessory you do not require, i.e. target an area in which you do not have a weakness. N.b. Calgary Barbell has a video on incline pin presses, just to throw another one in the mix. I found this helpful as well in addition to 3-count paused and close grip.

Spotto press is good for mid way sticking point as well. But it depends on what’s weak on you as a individual.

marcb84 i’ve not heard that before, if the sticking point is mid way and your using the spotto press do you perform the spotto press as normal ie paused just off the chest or do you pause the rep at the sticking point ?

Ascending Strength Curve

The Bench Press is has a Ascending Strength Curve; hard at the bottom, easier at the top.

That mean the first bottom 1/3 of the Bench Press is the hardest part. The sticking point occurs around 3 - 4 inches off the chest for most.

Pause Bench Press

This increases your strength off the chest.

Touch and Go Bench Press

This develops the stretch reflex.

Research by Dr Tom McLaughlin found training developing the stretch reflex (Touch and Go) especially enables more drive off the chest with a short pause in a competition bench press.

Research determined that the stretch reflex (Supertraining/Siff and Verkhoshansky) last up to 4 seconds with a pause.

However, the stretch reflex dissipates quickly. Around 50% of the stretch reflex is lost in one second. Thus, the shorter the pause in a competition Bench Press the more weight you will drive up.

Sticking Point

Where the bar stop isn’t the sticking point.

Think of it like running out of gas in a car. Due to momentum, the car keeps rolling.

Thus, where the car stops, isn’t where it ran out of gas.

That same applies with the Bench Press Sticking Point. That means Sticking Point Training need to be just below where the bar stopped.

Kenny Croxdale


Perhaps you should look for a new program. I can’t think of anyone with a big bench who trains like that.

Josh Bryant told me that if your sticking point is in the middle it is due to weak shoulders. Incline, OHP, and various shoulder raises will help with that.

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Chris it wasn’t so long ago i posted some questions regarding the Smolov Jr bench program which you strongly advised me not to do, at the time i took your advice along with some others who also recommended that i not do the program as all it would do is bring up old injuries.

However recently curiosity got the better of me and i did indeed run the program with the adjustment that i asked about and ended up equalling my PB from 5 years ago so whilst i know what you say makes a lot of sense and i do appreciate your advice i think i will stick with the program.

Paused Close Grips. Boom. Problem solved.


is there a reason you can only do one?

and why are you doing your own programming?

I thought everyone did their own programming, the program is “Russian Power Lifting Program” on e-normous .biz.

i have started as you can see one session is always 6x2 when i have used this type of program in the past i have used close grip bench for the 6x2 sessions having said that the program i did before required just 2 bench sessions a week however i was thinking paused bench might have better carry over.

Have you considered that your progress was in spite of doing Smolov rather than because of it? If someone is thinking of using a high volume/high frequency program, a more reasonable approach would be to gradually increase volume and frequency and see how you recover. Otherwise it’s like jumping off a boat in the ocean when you aren’t sure how good you can swim.

How much was this bench PR anyway?

In any case, I wish you luck.

The way I learned it was 1-2 inch off the chest. You can’t use any leg drive really to initiate the movement so it’s all muscle performing it.imagine doing a 1-2 Board press without being able to leg drive or bounce of the board. I’ve used it for 8 weeks doing sets around 295-300 on it. It has really helped my mid range . It’s always been my sticking point.

I hope this helps. I’m not an elite powerlifter or anything just telling you what has helped me move forward.