Your Guide To Narrow Grip Bench Press – How To, Tips, And Form

Man performing narrow grip bench press for strong triceps.

The narrow grip bench press is an excellent compound exercise for building your triceps. If you are trying to raise your standard bench press and are struggling at lockout using a narrow grip can be your key to progress.

Narrow Grip Bench Press Summary

  • Primary Muscles Worked: Triceps Brachii
  • Other Muscles (Secondary) Worked: Deltoid, Anterior, Pectoralis Major
  • Equipment: barbell and bench
  • Mechanics Type: Compound
  • Force: Push
  • Utility: Auxiliary

Easily Execute The Narrow Grip Bench Press

  • Prepare by loading the barbell on the rack with about 70% of the weight you would do for a normal bench press. You can increase the weight if this is to easy for you on future reps.
  • Lie on the bench and grasp the bar with a narrow grip approximately shoulder width.
  • Unrack the bar and lower it to your lower chest or upper stomach. As you lower the bar drag your arms and elbows across the side of your body. Don’t have your elbows out pointing away from you.
  • Push the bar back straight up off your chest.
  • After lockout repeat.

Man performing barbell narrow grip bench press with MuscleMagFitness logo background.
CLOSE GRIP PRESS | Triceps | How-To Exercise Tutorial

Muscles Activated For Narrow Grip Bench Press

Target (Agonist) Muscles

  • Triceps

Synergist Muscles

  • Deltoid, Anterior
  • Pectoralis Major, Clavicular
  • Pectoralis Major, Sternal

Tips For Faster Results And Proper From

For the best results follow these simple tips. Additionally, when you use these tips your confidence will go up and you will look and feel like a pro.

  • Using your breathing to control your motion. Breath in on the way down and out on your way up.
  • Improve Your Bar Placement. The bar should come to rest in the down position on your upper stomach and not your chest, like the standard bench press. You can lower the weight to your chest and this will activate your triceps even more, but doing so will be a tricep press and not a narrow grip bench press.
  • Keep Your Feet Flat on the floor. Similar to a standard bench press you want to keep your feet flat. Also, you want to keep your shoulder blades and butt on the bench.

Frequent Mistakes You Want To Avoid With The Narrow Grip Bench Press

Performing the narrow grip bench press improperly can lead to injuries. As with any pressing exercise that involves your arm, your shoulders are the primary joint that is prone to injury. Use these tips to avoid injury when pressing.

  • Don’t Rotate Your Elbows Out. When you rotate your elbows out you are placing more tension on your shoulder joint and activating your anterior deltoids more. You change the rotation of your shoulder from an upward movement to an interior rotation.
  • Don’t perform the movement too fast. The narrow grip bench press is not a plyometric movement, if you want to work on speed-strength you should use close grip push-ups and some plyo-boxes.
  • Use a spotter. If you are going to work out at a high-intensity level you need to be using a spotter. Even though you should be able to switch to a regular bench press grip to get the weight off of you if you went to failure. It is best to either have a spotter or set up some safety bars to catch the weight if you fail. Although a spotter can help you raise the intensity, by allowing you to do some forced negatives aswell.
  • Don’t limit your range of motion. Unless you have a specific training goal and reason to use a limited range of motion you should use good form and go all the way down and all the way up. Limiting your range of motion can be an advanced training technique, but only as part of a training program that is using other exercises to elongate your muscles and maintain flexibility.

Here are a few other mistakes to avoid such as grip to narrow, same travel path as the normal bench press.

Close-Grip Bench Press Guide | 3 Mistakes to AVOID

Variations Of The Bench Press

Although this guide is for narrow grip bench press, there are multiple variations of the bench press where you can use a close or narrow grip. Here are some of the more common bench press variations.

Additional Exercises That Target Your Triceps Like The Narrow Grip Bench Press

Here are some other compound movements that also target your triceps. There are also a lot of good tricep isolation exercises that we didn’t list but you can find them here.

Complementary And Superset Exercises

It is great to do supersets with an isolation chest exercise if you work chest and triceps on the same day. If you prefer to superset with the antagonist muscle groups then you should pick some bicep curls.

Pec Deck Butter-flys. If you have access to a pec deck machine don’t waste the opportunity to train your chest on it. This machine is the best chest isolation exercises there is.
Chest Flys. These are cable flys but you could also do dumbbell flys. A great way to superset narrow grip bench press is to do dumbbell flys on the same bench, alternating sets.
Cable Curls. Really any kind of double arm curl can be a great superset exercise for a double arm tricep exercise.
Concentration Curls. When you want to increase your rest for your muscles in between sets but not rest your whole body then do some single-arm exercises. Doing concentration curls as a superset with a double arm press will increase the total rest period, but keep you active.

Adding Narrow Grip Bench Press To Your Training

If you are trying to raise your bench press then doing a nine set bench press routine periodically can do wonders for building strength. For the nine sets, you do three sets of three. The first set of three is narrow, normal then wide grip. You then do three sets of this three-set routine for a total of nine sets.

You can also add narrow grip bench press as a core exercise for your tricep routine. If you are looking for other great tricep exercises check out this article.

Pin image of fit man performing narrow grip bench press.

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