T Nation

Close Grip Bench


I already know I am going to get berated for this but when doing CGB do you bring the bar all the way down touching your chest or prefer coming down to an inch or less not touching your chest? Just curious because it would seem that not touching the chest would give you more time under tension. Just curious on your guys thoughts.


If you bring it all the way down you involve the front delts more and take the tris away from the very bottom part, which causes people to lose strength there. Because of that I never go all the way down.

Have you tried them in the smith machine pressing up against the smith? Great exercise. I do them on a decline but that's only because of my particular shoulder concern.


For me, touching the chest in any bench situation = shoulder injury. I have gotten good results bringing it a good 3 inches from my chest. I honestly think it will not seriously affect your muscle results either way.


Thats what I thought. I was debating with my training partner yesterday who likes to go all the way down where as I like to stop just above my chest.

I actually switch it up every week from BB to Smith.

You notice any difference doing it decline?
Thanks for the response


Yea part of it was with the training partner as i said above and plus I was wondering it would be more beneficial to stay a little above chest

Hope your shoulder gets better


I like going below the chest to the xyphoid process....touch and go. Elbows tucked in, upper arm brushes sides, grip about 14in. I can feel it in my tris much more that way.


Many others can do it fine on a flat bench, but because of my bad shoulder I couldn't get the form down so a straight up and down smith + decline bench works great.

I bet an angled smith with a flat bench would be good as well. I did reverse grip presses in an angled smith before and loved it.


Same here. Keep the elbows tucked and a shoulder width or slightly more narrow grip, and your tris will get worked. This method is quite safe on the shoulders.

I like to call it narrow grip bench.


Each person will be different. Personally I have left shoulder problems and nearly all chest pressing exercises will aggravate it, but I do well with Smith close-grip (14" between hands) bench presses using a machine that is angled away slightly. I have drifted to, as BantamRunner and Producer said, doing it at about the xyphoid process or perhaps a little below. At the top position of the lift, the arms are about at the same slightly-away angle as the Smith machine, rather than vertical.

Definitely easier on the shoulders, and great for the tris.

I can do it touching the chest with proper arch provided I stretch very thoroughly, which I do as it helps the problem. The first stretch is hanging from a chinning bar for 30 seconds. The second is going to a bench press station, grabbing the bar at the whatever-you-call-thems that the plates butt against, and dropping the torso down to simulate an overhead snatch position. This stretching helps a ton for my problem, but would not necessarily help another person's.

Anyway, without the stretching, which is done for several rounds before even the first warmup and between most sets, I would not be able to touch the chest (or ribcage), but with it I can without aggravating anything.

Not that it is necessary to do so. I agree that the exercise can profitably be done without that. It is not for the triceps that I strive to get that last bit of ROM.


I do them off a 2-board, with a suicide grip to keep the shoulders tucked. They work great.


Dude, they look like they're working for you that way.

I don't touch chest on CGBP's. I have a "half-foam roller" which has about 3.5" or 4" radius that I lay on my chest like a board press. If I go to chest it absolutely kills my shoulders.


I bring them below my chest as well. I find when I do them to my chest I have to flare my arms out some. This feels great in the tris but kills my wrists with anything over 200 lbs.


That's why I don't de real CGBP...like the 4-6in kind. No way you can do it that close without jacking up your wrists. And at that short a distance you're lifting much less weight because your wrist is never over your elbow. Stay around 14in...or the distance between elbow to elbow when they are tucked to your sides.

Also, if you keep your elbows tucked so you engage the tris you almost have to come down to just below your chest to keep the elbow over the wrist. Now, if you keep elbows tucked and you come down to your chest you're almost doing a California Press...also a great tri builder.


If I trained shoulders or chest before triceps, then I'll use a board or the smith machine (IH presses or SWRGB, any press where you can press towards your feet as well as up) to take the now tired shoulders/bottom range out of the movement.
Otherwise, numbers would suffer way too much along with my ability to keep the bar path as it should be.

When training CGP at the beginning of a session or with no prior chest/delt/tri work, then I'll go all the way down... No problem. (wider grip though, elbows tucked and more recently, flaring out while pressing up)

If you want to stop shy of the chest, why not do something like JM Presses or so rather than CGP's...

Stopping high does not really increase TUT (decreases it, actually)... And considering how effective board CGP and ez extensions, lying down and behind the head from a dead stop to an incline are, among other exercises, I wouldn't bother worrying about not interrupting TUT or anything like that.

You want more TUT, grind out more reps and maybe do the negative to a 3-count in your head or so...


Does anyone have a link to a good video of this exercise. I'd like to see how "tucked" peoples elbows are when they do them. Specifically how close are your elbows to your body and how close they stay during the movement of the lift. I did these yesterday and I was changing my form quite a bit trying to find that sweet spot.


Thanks CC, very informative as always


It's interesting to hear how many people have shoulder issues when doing the CGBP. I guess I'm lucky in that respect, as I do some shoulder problems myself but am able to go right down to my chest without any problems.

I'm thinking of swapping my lifts around next week, would the reverse bench press be a good replacement for the CGBP?


You advocate the dead stop extensions a lot. What is the reason for the dead stop? Is it purely to save the elbows or is there some other advantage? I know you have issues with tri extentions and your elbows.


Swap out CGB and use floor presses and pin presses. You can really go heavy and you dont have to worry about shoulders or ROM.


What about Reverse grip bench? I have only tried them once and they seemed pretty difficult on the triceps