Tip: The Best Bench Press for Athletes

Close grip or traditional grip? If an athlete wants to transfer strength into power, here's what science says is the best choice.

When an athlete is looking for gains in explosiveness, it generally comes down to two things: Choose better parents or get stronger first. Too bad the first option is out. This leaves us with the second. If you want to get faster, jump higher, and be more powerful, get stronger first.

But after a foundation of strength has been built, how can strength gains be more specific? Research by Lockie et al. investigated this.

Close-Grip vs. Traditional-Grip Bench Press

Twenty-seven resistance-trained athletes performed a one-rep max on the traditional bench press and the close-grip bench press. The traditional bench press allowed them to lift a heavier load (optimizing strength). But the close-grip bench press saw greater peak power and velocity (optimizing explosiveness).

For strong athletes looking to transfer strength into power, switching to the close-grip bench press will do the trick. The researchers concluded that the close-grip bench press should be programmed for "sports-specific adaptations in explosive arm actions." That just means it's great for combat athletes like football players, rugby players, and basketball players.


  1. Lockie, R. G., Callaghan, S. J., Moreno, M., Risso, F. G., Liu, T. M., Stage, A. A., Birmingham-Babauta, S. A., Stokes, J. J., Giuliano, D V., Lazar, A., Davis, D. L., & Orjalo, A. (2017). An investigation of the mechanics and sticking region of a one-repetition maximum close-grip bench press versus the traditional bench press. Sports, 5(3), 46.
Jake Tuura is is an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Youngstown State University. He specializes in athletic performance and muscle-gain optimization. Follow Jake Turra on Facebook