The close grip bench press is one of the popular exercises which many of you might have seen people doing in the gym. It is one of the best exercises to build the size and thickness of the tricep. However, some people find it difficult or are uncomfortable to perform this exercise because they hurt their wrists.

Many of us do not have good wrist mobility. Due to this, you will have pain or discomfort on your wrist when you perform a close grip bench press. Also, when you hold a narrow grip during bench press, it internally rotates the shoulder which can lead to shoulder pain.

So here, in this article, I have shared with you some of the best close grip bench press alternatives that you can do even at home without a bench. All of these exercises will put less strain on your joints and will be much safer options for you. Even most beginners can also do these alternatives.

Muscles Worked During Close Grip Bench Press

Close grip bench press primarily targets the triceps brachii and the pectoralis major muscles. It hits all three heads of the tricep and also targets the inner part of the chest. So if your want bigger triceps, then do a close grip bench press.

Along with the chest and tricep, secondary muscles like the anterior deltoid and core muscles are also activated to support the primary muscles during the movement.

So according to the movement pattern and activation of the muscles, I have selected the best alternatives for you. As a personal trainer, I have also used some of these alternatives when my clients aren’t comfortable with close grip bench press or if they don’t have a bench when they are working out at home. So let’s look at each of them here.

Close Grip Bench Press Alternatives

1. Close Grip Pushup

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The close-grip pushup is similar to the close grip bench press. Here, you will not have any discomfort or pain in the wrist as compared to a close grip bench press where many people feel pain in their wrist during the movement.

So if you want a safer close grip option then close grip push up is then best. This exercise will hit the tricep and also your pecs.

How to do

1. Place both hands close to each other on the mat. Move your legs back and keep your knees extended.

2. Keep your shoulder retracted and your elbows extended. Your core should be tight. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by lowering your torso while keeping your elbows slightly in. Stop until your arms are at a 90° angle.

4. Slowly push on the floor with your arms and return to the starting position.

Recommended Reps– 10-12

Make sure that when you start lowering the body, your elbows should point inward to keep maximum tension on the tricep. If your elbows are out, then the chest and shoulder will dominate the movement.

If you find close-grip push-ups difficult, then do this exercise on your knees. Just be on your knees and perform the same movement.

2. Dips

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Dips are a great way to train the medial and lateral head of the tricep. This can be done on the bench or the bar. Make sure to completely extend the elbow at the top to activate all heads of the tricep.

So you can replace close grip push up with dips as both are compound movements that are meant to increase the strength and size of the tricep.

How to do

1. Place your hands on the edge of the table with your back facing the table. Both hands should be at a shoulder-width apart.

2. With the help of an arm, take your legs forward and take your body in front of the table without moving the arms.

3. Keep your legs straight with both feet together. Your shoulders should be rolled back and your chest should be up.

4. Now start moving your body down by flexing your elbows. Reach the bottom and then come back straight up.

Recommended Reps– 10-12

You can make this exercise easy by bending your knees and bringing your feet back rather than keeping them straight. Always breathe in on the way down and breathe up on the way up. Also, remember to keep your neck neutral and your abs engaged throughout the movement.

3. Dumbbell Close Grip Floor Press

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If you find close grip bench press difficult with the barbell, then this is the best alternative for you. Dumbbell close grip press is done on the floor so you can also fo this exercise at home. You just need the dumbbells and you are good to go.

This exercise works exactly like the close grip bench press but is much safer and easy. That’s why, if you are a beginner, then start with the dumbbell close grip press and then go to the barbell. Otherwise, you might end up hurting your wrist.

How to do

1. Grab two dumbbells and lay down on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor.

2. Bring both dumbbells to close together while keeping your arms straight up. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by bringing the dumbbells down while keeping your elbows in. Breath in always when your hands move downward.

4. Stop at the bottom when the dumbbells are just above your lower chest. From that position breathe out and start pushing your arms up. Bring your arms back to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps– 10-12

You can also do this exercise on the bench if you have one. You can go heavy on this but make sure that you can feel the right muscles. Don’t just lift heavy for the safe of moving the weights from point A to point B. Your focus should be to put the maximum tension on the tricep when you do this exercise.

4. Side-Lying Tricep Dips

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This is another great bodyweight exercise you can do easily at home. It is a unilateral movement, so you can separately work on each side of your tricep. So definitely try this alternative.

How to do

1. Lay down on a flat surface with your sides on the floor. You can use a yoga mat if the floor is not clean!

2. Place the above hand on the floor, just in front of the chest. Your other hand should be placed at the back of your head. This will be your starting position.

3. Start pushing the ground with your hand and bring your body up. Your leg and torso should remain still.

4. Pause at the top when your elbow is fully locked and then slowly return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps– 12-15

You can very easily do this exercise at home. But keep in mind that you should not feel any pain in the joints during the exercise. Stop the exercise whenever you feel pain in the joints.

5. TRX Tricep Extension

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If you want to increase the strength and size of your tricep then you should do bodyweight exercises like TRX tricep extensions. This is a great alternative to a close grip bench press as both are perfect multi-joint compound exercises.

When it comes to bodyweight exercises, TRX suspension is the perfect equipment to have with you. You can perform many bodyweight exercises with TRX and that too at home. So having a TRX suspension is always handy.

How to do

1. Attach a TRX suspension at the top wherever you can fix the strap. You can find how to attach TRX here.

2. Grab the handles of X and stand forward with your body leaning forward. Keep your arms straight. This will be the starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your body forward and moving your hands back and behind your head. Don’t move your elbows during the movement.

4. Pause at the end when the tricep is fully extended and then push forward to bring your arms back to the starting position.

Recommended Reps– 12-15

If you are a beginner, then use a limited range of motion and don’t go too down. As you get used to the exercise, then increase the range of motion and go deep.

6. Dumbbell Floor Skull Crusher

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This is another best alternative exercise you can do without a bench. You might have seen people doing skull crushers on the bench, but here you will do this on the floor.

Floor skull crushers can be done with both dumbbells and barbells. You just need to keep your form and technique.

How to do

1. Grab two pairs of dumbbells and lay down on the floor while keeping your knees bent and feet on the floor.

2. Bring your arms up, straight at almost 90° from the floor. This will be your starting position.

3. Start the exercise by moving your arms slightly back, and then bend your elbows and move the dumbbells down to the floor. Your forearm should only move here.

4. Stop at the bottom when the dumbbell is almost touching the floor. From there, push the weights up towards the starting position while keeping the tension on the triceps.

Recommended Reps– 12-15


You can also do this exercise by adding a rotational movement. You can do that by just rotating your wrist as you go down and stopping at the bottom where your palm will be facing downward. From there,you can again rotate and bring your hands back to the starting position.

You can do these types of variations sometimes to hit the muscle with different angles. You should make some changes in the way you do exercises by adding a rotational movement, changing the grip position, or by using different modalities. This way you will never hit a plateau and will get continuous results.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to close grip bench press. You can do all of these exercises at home and you will just need some small equipment. You won’t even need a bench if you want to do any exercise as every exercise has some other alternatives which can be easily done anywhere.

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