Saturday, September 21, 2013

Underrated: the close-grip incline bench press

One exercise I use to build upper body strength is the close grip bench press. I like it for several reasons:

1. It requires less load. My own close-grip incline max is about 85 percent of my regular bench max. I've found this to be true with my clients as well, which makes it a good choice for athletes who are at end of a recovery block and transitioning back to max-effort work or need a short (1-3 week) break from heavy benching.

2. It's a happy medium between vertical and horizontal pressing. Because you can control the angle of the incline, it's a good option for athletes who can't press overhead.

3. It's a longer movement than an overhead press or bench press. Longer movements require a greater range of motion and more time under tension. Because of this, the exercise can be extremely challenging with comparatively light weight.

4. Great carry over to the bench press. Benching more (especially without benching more) is always fun.

Here's a clip of Adam, a professional basketball player, performing a rep with 285. It's a good exercise for him because he has issues with bar speed when he benches. His triceps are strong, but he misses reps because he's slow off his chest.

It's also a good option for him because he's 6' 8" and can't do standing overhead presses in a gym with short ceilings.

I cued him to explode off the chest, so that he'd produce enough bar speed to finish the rep.

Next time you want to be humbled, try the close-grip incline bench press. A month later, you'll bench more. 

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