Narrow Grip Bench Press


The narrow grip bench press is a great exercise that shifts the focus of the bench press to the inner pectoral muscles and the triceps. Secondary stress remains on the anterior deltoids (shoulders) and the rest of the chest muscle group. Remember that anytime a narrower grip is taken when performing the bench press, stress is shifted from the entire chest to focus more on triceps and inner chest.


As with other exercises, be sure to check the weight racks that hold up the bar and make sure they are in the correct position. Each rack may look slightly different, but you should be able to adjust the height of the bar above the bench. The racks should be in a position that allows you to lift the bar out of the rack and put it back without stretching or significant amount of arm movement.

Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor or on the foot rests (if available) on either side of the bench. Grasp the bar with your hands about six inches apart. Your hands will generally be on the inside of the inner gripping. The width of your grip can be varied from having your hands actually touching to having a grip of 12 or more inches apart. Different grips will each work the muscles in a slightly different way.


With the help of a spotter, extend your arms so that the bar is lifted out of the racks. Slowly move the bar above your chest and take in a large breath to prepare for the lift. Slowly lower the bar to a resting point above your chest while allowing your elbows to travel out to the sides of your body. Once the bar has come to a rest, exhale and press the bar forcefully upward. Repeat this motion for the desired number of repetitions. When you are finished, have your spotter grasp the bar and assist you as it is lowered and placed back onto the racks.

Tips From the Trainer

Because this lift involves a narrow grip, more of the stress is transferred from the overall pectoral region to the smaller inner-pecs and the triceps. Pressing the same weight as you do on the bench press will likely not be possible, and a lighter weight should be chosen.

If absolutely no spotter is available to you, you may consider using the smith machine. The catch racks will save you just in case you canít complete one of your repetitions. This option may not allow the same type of resistance as the bench press would otherwise allow, but it can be useful when no spotter is available to you.

Be careful to always support the bar with your strength or the help of the spotter throughout the entire movement. Never rest the weight on your chest or bounce the bar off your chest. Remember, this should be a smooth motion for adding maximum definition and mass to your muscles.

The bench press is a high-intensity exercise which brings a high level of risk. Be sure to warm up properly before lifting heavy weights and work your way up to maximum exertion. Know your limits, and if youíre new to weight lifting, go light for a while until you get the hang of this movement. As with all exercises where weight is held above the head, this exercise should never be done without a spotter. If your muscles were to suddenly wear out and not be able to lift the bar to the racks, serious bodily injury could occur.

Take a narrow grip

Spotter grips on outside

Starting position

Ending position

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