Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Grasp two dumbbells with a closed, neutral grip.
  2. Lie face-up on a flat bench with feet flat on the floor on each side of the bench.
  3. Extend elbows (without locking elbows), lifting the dumbbells and positioning them above your shoulders.
  4. Dumbbells should be positioned parallel to your body.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

  1. In a controlled fashion, allow the elbows to bend, keeping elbows and upper arms close to your sides, while lowering the dumbbells.
  2. Lower the dumbbells until they reach your chest. Your elbows will be just below your shoulder level.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

    1. Extend elbows, pushing the dumbbells upward, returning them to starting position.
Do not lift feet off of the floor or arch back throughout the lift and descent. Do not bounce the dumbbells off of the chest at the bottom of the movement when proceeding to the next repetition/concentric phase. Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Triceps brachii
  • Synergists: Anconeus, Pectoralis major, Anterior deltoid
  • Stabilizers: Trapezius, serratus anterior
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Elbow extension
  • Equipment: Two dumbbells
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

    What Is A Triceps Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press?

    A close grip bench press is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary elbow extensor, the triceps brachii. This exercise is performed with two dumbbells. The concentric portion of the lift is elbow extension, which involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is elbow flexion, which involves the descent of the weight.

    The purpose of the close grip dumbbell bench press is to strengthen the triceps while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of triceps.

    Why Do A Triceps Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press?

    Close grip dumbbell bench presses provide a variation in bench press, narrowing the grip to activate the triceps brachii. The pectoralis major and anterior deltoids are also activated in this movement.

    Compared to other bench press exercises with a wider grip, the close grip dumbbell bench press activates the pectoralis major to a lesser extent. This is because the horizontal shoulder adduction involved with traditional [wide grip] barbell bench press is replaced with greater emphasis on elbow extension and shoulder flexion. The neutral grip used with the dumbbells increases the demand of the triceps to lift the bar while the anterior deltoids assist in the movement. Nonetheless, the sternocostal head of the pectoralis major is activated with the pressing motion of the close grip bench press.

    The utilization of dumbbells, as opposed to a barbell, provides an alternative that is easier on the shoulders and wrists. The dumbbells also allow the lifter to extend both elbows independently as the triceps of both arms contract.

    Close grip dumbbell bench presses strengthen and increase the size of the triceps brachii, anconeus, upper portion of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid. Close grip bench presses also serve as an auxiliary exercise that can increase strength involved in other multi-joint exercises.

    Anatomy Of A Triceps Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

    The triceps brachii is located on the back of the upper arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of three heads, the long, medial and lateral head. The medial head lies beneath the long and lateral head. The long head origin is located at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula (shoulder blade). The original of the lateral head is located at the posterior shaft of the humerus. The medial head origin is located at the radial groove of the posterior humeral shaft.

    The long and lateral heads make up the “horseshoe” portion of the triceps. All three heads merge, sharing insertion into the olecranon process of the ulna, located at the elbow joint.

    The triceps brachii extend the elbow joint. The long head assists in arm adduction.

    The anconeus is a short, triangular muscle located at the elbow joint. Its origin is located at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, inserting at the lateral aspect of the olecranon process of the ulna.

    The pectoralis major and anterior deltoid contribute to a lesser extent, helping stabilize the shoulder joint while assisting in horizontal shoulder adduction and flexion. The pectoralis major originates at the sternal end the clavicle, sternum and rib cartilage (ribs 1-6) with fibers converging at the insertion located at the greater tubercle of the humerus. The pectoralis major aids in pushing movements as the shoulder is adducted. The clavicular head of the pectoralis major is activated during the close grip bench press, helping to develop the upper portion of the pectorals. The anterior deltoid is a primary synergist of the pectoralis major.

    The serratus anterior and trapezius muscles aid the movement and stability of the scapula (shoulder blade).

    Variations Of A Triceps Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

    Wide grip, Standard width grip, Reverse grip, Smith machine close grip, EZ bar close grip, barbell close grip.

    How To Improve Your Triceps Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as arms are fully extending as you push the dumbbells upward.
    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    In order to improve pushing performance through “sticking points”, partial repetition ranges may be implemented to improve full range of motion of the close grip dumbbell bench press.

    Strategically varying your grip width (narrow, standard and wide grip) and hand positioning (supinated grip, pronated grip, and neutral/close grip) can improve overall bench press performance.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between triceps and chest training to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Triceps Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

    Lifting the dumbbells with a grip narrower than shoulder width does not activate the triceps and limits the load that can be lifted successfully. Therefore, any grip narrower than a shoulder width grip may not be necessary or practical.

    It is very common to observe an individual arching their back in efforts of lifting the weight with more ease. This technique should only be performed by weightlifting professionals and can compromise the safety of lifters.

    Lifting heavier weight without a trained spotter. With moderate to heavy weight loads, a trained spotter should monitor the lifter throughout their set for optimal safety.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Triceps Dumbbell Close Grip Bench Press

    If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. arching of the back, dropping the weight quickly instead of controlling the descent on the eccentric portion of the lift), the likelihood of injury increases.

    Although rare, triceps tendon rupture and/or injury to rotator cuff muscles may occur if warm-up is not sufficient and/or if intensity (load) is increased inappropriately. Lowering the dumbbells too low should be avoided as it results in excessive shoulder extension, which can place great stress on the overall joint.