The close grip bench press is one of the best exercises to build the size and thickness in your triceps.

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.

To help you out, I've created this comprehensive guide detailing the best 5 close grip bench press variations.

If you can't do the close grip bench press 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 deltoids.

Here's a closer look at 7 of the best close grip bench press exercise alternatives and how to perform them.

1. Close Grip Dumbbell Floor Press

Man Doing Close Grip Dumbbell Floor Press

If you don't have access to a barbell or a bench, then the close grip floor press is a top option 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 close grip variation works just like the close grip bench press, but it's safer to do on your own (so you don't need a spotter) and easier for most lifters. I've even found it to help with your bench press performance.

In my opinion beginners should start with the dumbbell close grip press, develop a solid base strength, and then move on to the barbell version.

I've often found that this close grip bench press variation is easier on your joints (wrists, shoulders, and elbow) as your body can move the weight in a more natural position. 

If you are unable to perform the floor press exercise, whether due to limited range of motion or discomfort in your shoulders or elbows, there are floor press alternative exercises that can effectively target your chest, triceps, and shoulders. 

Who needs the close grip bench press when you've got the close grip dumbbell press?


  • Easier on your joints.
  • Great alternative for beginners.
  • Doesn't require a bench.
  • It's a compound exercise.

How To Perform: 

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

Tips From A Trainer!

  • If you don't have dumbbells near by, or don't have access to a gym because you're traveling, you can use resistance bands instead.

Related Article - Floor Press Vs Bench Press

2. Burpees (Close Grip Bench Press Alternative For At Home)

Man Demonstrating Burpees

Burpees are a dynamic body weight exercise combining both strength and cardio. It engages 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 an excellent alternative for you.

However, I must note that this close grip bench press alternative isn't for everyone. If you're a beginner or of a larger build, the burpee might be too complex and can be high impact on your knees.

If you feel any discomfort in your joints, please stop this exercise and choose a burpee alternative exercise.


  • Uses your body weight.
  • You don't need a lot of room.
  • Develops explosive power.

How To Perform: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, crouch down, and put your hands on the ground underneath your shoulders.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 hip width. 
  4. Finally, push with your legs and jump up to return to a standing position.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • For an easier version of the burpee you can remove the jump part of the movement.  

3. Dips

Man Doing Dips Outdoors

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.

As they're so versatile, you can do them pretty much anywhere. I've performed these in the local park midway through my morning run and even in hotel rooms. 

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

Whether you perform the chest dip, tricep dip, or bench dip, they're all excellent options. Don't underestimate the power of dips, they're one of the best chest and tricep builders in my opinion.

Who needs close grip bench presses, right?


  • Develops your chest and triceps.
  • You can do them almost anywhere.
  • Great if you're on the move.

How To Perform: 

  1. 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.
  2. Extend your legs forward and take your body in front of the bench without moving your arms.
  3. With your legs straight and your feet together, your shoulders should be rolled back and your chest up.
  4. Now move your body down by flexing your elbows.
  5. When you reach the bottom, come back straight up.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • You can adjust your dip movement to target certain areas of your body more. For example, if you lean forward slightly you'll engage more chest muscle. If you remain upright, your triceps need to work harder. 
  • Use a dipping belt if you want to add more weight to your body.

Related Article - Best Dip Bars For Home Use

4. Diamond Push up (Close Grip Push Up Option)

Man Doing Diamond Push Up In The Gym

Diamond push ups (also known as the close grip push up) are 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.  

If you're like me and sometimes suffer from wrist pain these might not be suitable for you. The close diamond formation of your hands can strain your wrist joints, making it uncomfortable. 

You won't need the close grip bench press exercise when you've got this alternative exercise available.


  • Great for tricep development.
  • It's a bodyweight exercise.
  • You can do them anywhere.

How To Perform: 

  1. 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.
  2. Bend your elbows and pull your chest toward your hands. Your shoulder blades should retract as you lower to the ground.
  3. Lower your body until your upper arms are alongside your ribcage.
  4. Pause at the bottom of the movement and then initiate the upward movement by squeezing your chest and straightening your elbows.
  5. Your shoulder blades should protract as you push to the top of the movement.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • You can adjust the difficulty of this close grip bench alternative by doing the following: To make the movement tougher place your feet on an elevated platform. If you'd like to make it easier elevate your hands or place your knees on the floor.

5. TRX Tricep Extension

Man Doing TRX Tricep Extension In The Gym

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. However it mainly uses elbow extension.

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

I only started using this close grip bench press substitute about a year ago and my clients absolutely love it. I wish I'd used it sooner. 

While it can be a difficult movement for some of my clients, you can adjust the difficulty easily by adjusting your body position. The more upright you are the easier it is.

However, if you don't have access to a TRX trainer, there are affordable TRX alternatives that can be a practical solution to maintain effective suspension training for a reasonable price.


  • It uses your body weight.
  • You can do them anywhere.
  • Works your triceps through a large range of movement.

How To Perform: 

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

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Keep your elbows close to your head and don't let them flare out too much. Make sure each rep is slow and controlled.

6. Pin Bench Press

Man Doing Pin Bench Press

The pin bench press is an old favorite of mine. It's actually one of the first tricep movements that I performed in the gym. Plus, everybody loves bench pressing, right?

You perform the exercise using a modified version of the barbell bench press form.

By adjusting the form a little (tucking your elbows into your body) you place more tension through your triceps. I prefer this to the traditional bench press as I love working my triceps.

So if you want a tricep focused alternative to the traditional bench press (and close grip bench press), the pin bench press is perfect.

As you use squat rack safety pins to bring the barbell to a dead stop during the movement, it removes any momentum from this tricep building exercise and forces your triceps to work extra hard. 

Trust me, this barbell bench press exercise that'll cause your triceps to grow.

I honestly think it's one of the best alternatives for close grip bench presses. And, best of all, it's suitable for all ability levels. I also like the fact that the use of the safety pins means you don't require a spotter (which you normally do during compound exercises). 


  • Prevents you from cheating and using momentum.
  • Increases the work your triceps needs to perform.
  • Great for most ability levels.
  • It's a compound exercise.

How to Perform:

  1. Set the safety pins on a bench press to just above chest level.
  2. Lie flat on the bench and grab the barbell with an overhand close grip position (hands shoulder width).
  3. Unrack the barbell and lower it to your chest while keeping your arms tucked to your sides. 
  4. Let the barbell rest on the safety pins for a second, then press the barbell back to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat and complete your set.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Ensure your arms are tucked to your sides during this barbell bench press movement. If they flare out too much, you'll remove some of the force placed through the triceps. If you feel joint pain during this movement, try using an EZ curl bar.

7. Dumbbell Overhead Press

Dumbbell Overhead Press

The dumbbell overhead press is one of the best alternative exercises for close grip bench press. 

It doesn't require a lot of room to perform, and is suitable for all abilities whether you're a seasoned pro or a weight lifting newbie. 

My clients enjoy this movement as it isolates the triceps while working your muscles through a full range of motion. You'll be able to feel every part of your triceps working during this movement. 

If you're looking for alternative exercises for close grip bench press, the dumbbell overhead press is a brilliant option.


  • Doesn't require much space. 
  • Suitable for all ability levels. 

How to Perform:

  1. Grab a dumbbell handle with both hands. 
  2. Lift the dumbbell overhead and brace your core. 
  3. Keep your elbows tucked into your head and lower the dumbbell by bending at the elbows.
  4. Pause at the bottom when your triceps are fully stretched. 
  5. Press the dumbbell up back to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Don't lift too heavy, you want to keep full control of the dumbbell throughout the entire movement, maximizing your tricep activation. Always focus on controlled reps over more weight. 

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.[1] 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. 


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.[2]

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. 

Common Close Grip Bench Press Questions

Is the close grip bench press good for bad shoulders? 

No, the close grip bench press isn't bad for your shoulders. However, if you perform the close grip bench press incorrectly, it can leave you at a higher risk of injury (as can any exercise performed incorrectly).

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

Yes, the close grip bench press alternatives we listed above will work your triceps and your chest. I recommend choosing 2-3 of these exercises for maximum chest gains.

Is a close grip bench press good for triceps? 

Yes, the close grip bench press is good for the triceps. The triceps are the primary muscle being worked during the close grip bench press movement.


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

You can perform alternative exercises like the diamond push-up, dips, TRX tricep extension and more. 

Choose a couple of exercises from the list above and watch your triceps grow.




Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.