Christine Envall Female Bodybuilder Australia

Close Grip Bench Press

This exercise is a great 'heavy duty' exercise for building mass onto the triceps and also for creating thickness in the central chest area. It is a powerful exercise and you should be able to handle quite a lot of weight on it. To give you a guide, I can do a similar weight to my regular bench press on it.

To perform the exercise, choose an EZ bar that feels comfortable on your wrists. Don’t use a straight bar for this exercise as you will damage your wrists as soon as you use any weight on it. If your gym has a tricep bench, use this to perform this exercise. A tricep (French curl) bench looks similar to a regular bench press bench, except the bar supports are taller and closer together. If your gym doesn’t have one you will need a spotter to lift the bar for you.

Hold the EZ bar on the first angled part of the bar (your hands should be about 4 - 6 inches [10 – 15 cm] apart). Use the same grip as you would use on a regular bench press. Lower the bar down towards your chest, about level with your nipples. Bend your elbows but keep them close to your body as you bring the bar down. Your upper arm should be next to your body. Once the bar has touched your chest, return the it to the starting point by pushing directly upwards, straightening your arms. You should feel the stress on the tricep as it does the work to return the bar to the starting position. At the top of the movement, you should feel your chest contract.

While you perform the exercise, keep your head flat on the bench. Don’t be tempted to raise your head as you lower the bar. Not only does this reduce the effectiveness of the exercise, it increases your risk of damaging nerves in your neck.

Normally with this exercise I perform 3 sets to get to my heaviest weight and then perform a “3 Stage Drop Set” for my fourth set. The drop set adds a new dimension to the intensity of the exercise and helps striate the chest. On the 3rd set you should be able to get 10 reps out. The starting weight for the drop set should be slightly lighter than your 3rd set weight. A “3 Stage Drop Set” is a series of 3 10 rep sets performed consecutively (no rest between each set) with a lighter weight being used on each set.

Example: Load the bar with 3 plates on each side, ie 20lb, 10lb, 10lb (with the heaviest being the first weight on the bar). Do 10 reps with this weight, have spotters remove one plate from each side, then do 10 more reps, have spotters remove one more plate from each side and then do 10 more reps. There should be virtually no break between all the reps.

The idea is that you are at the point of failure on the 10th rep of each set. If not, the weights you are using are too light and you will not get the full benefit of the exercise. While drop sets can be performed on many exercises, I find the chest and triceps respond well to this type of training and the close grip bench press seems to suit this drop set.

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