Close Grip Bench Press Alternatives (5 Best Substitutes)

The close grip bench press is one of the best exercises to build the size and thickness of your tricep. But those of us without good wrist mobility may have pain or discomfort on our wrists when performing a close grip bench press. Or you might not have the barbell or bench necessary to do a close grip bench press.

If you can't do a close grip bench press but still want to build your triceps, don't worry. In the guide below, we will discuss 5 close grip bench press alternatives.

If you can't do the bench press exercise for any reason, or you'd like to add more diversity to your workouts, you have options. Several alternative options will build your triceps as well as your pectorals and deltoid.

Here's a closer look at five of the best close grip bench press alternatives. 

1. Close Grip Dumbbell Floor Press  

If you don't have access to a barbell or a bench, then this is the alternative for you. The dumbbell close grip press is done on the floor, so it can be performed wherever you have a set of dumbbells.

This movement works just like the close grip bench press, but it's safer to do on your own and easier for most lifters. That's why beginners should start with the dumbbell close grip press, and move on to the barbell version.

Read More - Floor Press Vs Bench Press

How To Perform: 

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and lay down on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  • Bring the dumbbells close together while keeping your arms straight up.  
  • Begin by bringing the dumbbells down while keeping your elbows in. 
  • Pause at the bottom when the dumbbells are just above your lower chest. 
  • Now start pushing your arms up. Bring your arms back to the starting position and repeat.
Close Grip Dumbbell Floor Press

2. Burpees

Burpees are a dynamic movement combining both strength and cardio that engage most major muscle groups in rapid succession. Burpees involve squats, push-ups, and explosive jumps.

If you're looking for an equipment-free alternative to a close grip bench press, burpees are the best alternative for you.

See Also - 10 Best Burpee Substitutes

How To Perform: 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, crouch down, and put your hands on the ground underneath your shoulders. 
  • Shift your weight on your hands and shoulders, jump your feet back into a push-up position while bending your elbows, so your chest sits perfectly between your hands. 
  • Now press your upper body from the floor using your hands. At the same time, move your legs underneath you with a jump, trying to keep the legs at shoulder width. 
  • Finally, push with your legs and jump up to return to a standing position. 
Burpees

3. Dips

Dips are another excellent, equipment-free way to train the medial and lateral head of the tricep. Dips can be done on a bench, chair, rings, or any flat and stable surface. Always completely extend your elbow at the top to activate all heads of the tricep.

Dips are a great close grip bench press alternative because they are both compound movements meant to increase the strength and size of the tricep.

Related Article - Best Dip Bars For Home Use

How To Perform: 

  • Put your hands on the edge of the bench or chair with your back facing the bench. Your hands should be at a shoulder-width apart. 
  • Extend your legs forward and take your body in front of the bench without moving your arms. 
  • With your legs straight and your feet together, your shoulders should be rolled back and your chest up. 
  • Now move your body down by flexing your elbows.  
  • When you reach the bottom, come back straight up. 
Parallel Bar Dips

4. Diamond Pushup  

A diamond push-up is an extremely effective triceps exercise. The unique diamond shape formed by your hands activates your triceps brachii more than a standard push-up.

Diamond push-ups help you build muscle in your arms and prepare you for other tricep exercises, like the close grip bench press. However, they are much more difficult than a standard push-up, so this move might not be for beginners.  

How To Perform: 

  • Start in a standard push-up position and connect your thumbs and index fingers to create a diamond shape. Your legs should be hip-width apart or together. 
  • Bend your elbows and pull your chest toward your hands. Your shoulder blades should retract as you lower to the ground. 
  • Lower your body until your upper arms are alongside your ribcage.  
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement and then initiate the upward movement by squeezing your chest and straightening your elbows.  
  • Your shoulder blades should protract as you push to the top of the movement. 
Diamond Push Up

5. TRX Tricep Extension  

A great way to increase the strength and size of your tricep is by performing TRX tricep extensions. These tricep extensions are a great alternative to a close grip bench press because both are perfect multi-joint compound exercises. 

TRX suspension is the perfect equipment to have with you. You can perform many bodyweight exercises with TRX, even in your home gym. 

Related Article - 5 TRX Alternative Exercises 

How To Perform: 

  • Attach your TRX suspension at the top wherever you can fix the strap.  
  • With your arms straight, grab the handles of X and stand forward with your body leaning forward.  
  • Start by moving your body forward and your hands back and behind your head. Keep your elbows still during the movement. 
  • Pause at the end when the tricep is fully extended, and then push forward to bring your arms back to where you started. 
TRX Tricep Extension

Muscles Worked With Close Grip Bench Press Alternatives

Shoulders (Anterior Deltoids)

The anterior deltoids or your shoulders are one of the more noticeable muscles worked by the close grip bench press alternatives. 

Your anterior deltoid is the front third of your shoulder. We use it every day to raise our arms in front of our bodies and turn our shoulders. Be mindful of these motions because you do them every day. 

Upper Chest 

Having a strong chest can help you perform better in just about everything, from powerlifting to CrossFit, to gymnastics. Targeting the upper chest specifically with these alternative moves can also elevate your entire appearance if performed correctly. 

Triceps  

Your triceps are one of the largest muscle groups in your upper body, 2.5x bigger than your biceps. Their primary function is to extend your elbow, so they are involved in many different activities, including all kinds of pushing and pressing. Many lifters want to build their biceps, and rightfully so, but most of the size in your arms comes from your triceps.

Why Choose Alternatives Over The Close Grip Bench Press

Although an excellent tricep exercise, close grip bench presses come with a bit of a learning curve. Many beginners notice that the bar wobbles when they unrack it. Many lifters accidentally push too far up or lower it more than you should.  

That's why it's crucial to have a spotter/coach around when you try this for the first few times or start out with the alternatives. The form is critical to getting any move right. The close grip bench press can quickly accelerate shoulder injuries without proper form. 

These alternative exercises are beginner-friendly and easier on the shoulders and wrists than the close grip bench press. If you can't perform a close grip bench press, it's important not to skip your triceps altogether. The tricep is a massive muscle in our arms, and it's essential to strengthen it to complete many of our daily activities. 


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Is the close grip bench press good bad for shoulders? 

The close grip bench press can damage your shoulders if not performed correctly. For example, gripping the barbell too narrow will internally rotate the shoulders, putting them in a compromised position when trying to press. Too narrow of a grip can also add unwanted stress to your shoulder joints. 

Are close grip bench press alternatives good enough for the chest? 

The close grip bench press alternatives we listed above will work your triceps and your chest. However, good enough for you depends on what your goals are. Performing all of these alternatives, along with other moves like the close grip bench press and wide grip bench press, will help you build a solid, muscular chest.

Is a close grip bench press good for triceps? 

The close grip bench press is most prominently known for its focus on the triceps, and all of the alternatives will also focus on your triceps. Many bench press variations will engage the triceps, but the close grip variation elicits a more significant activation. 


Conclusion

The close grip bench press is an excellent move to build the size and thickness of your tricep. However, if you can't perform the close grip bench press, you can still get the results you're looking for.

These 5 alternatives, along with isolating exercises like the skull crusher, will give you big, strong triceps. 

Need Help With Your Fitness Training?

  • Looking to lose weight?
  • Want to get ripped?
  • Lacking workout ideas?
Paul J

Last Updated on September 7, 2022