Tricep bars are not just for bicep and tricep isolation exercises. Beginners and intermediates can also use them to do bench presses.
The neutral grips of tricep bars make it easier to keep your upper arms at safer angles. You may also find the neutral grips more comfortable on your wrists.
Besides that, tricep bar bench presses are generally “closer-grip” than the regular version.
The upper arm angles that feel more natural in this position tend to focus more on your tricep muscles and less on your chest muscles.
One downside for heavy lifters is that the weight capacities of tricep bars are often around 200 pounds (90.7 kg) (but individual models vary). This may not be enough for their training goals.
Additionally, it will take a bit more effort to get into the bench press position compared to the barbell with a rack version.
How to do a tricep bar bench press
Before you can do the tricep bar bench press, you need a good tricep bar, weight plates, and a weight bench.
Once you have these equipment options, take the following steps to do a tricep bar bench press:
- Load the tricep bar in front of the bench, lift it on your lap, and sit down on the bench.
- Kick the tricep bar back and lie down at the same time. Pull your shoulder blades back and down. Keep the tricep bar at chest height for now and keep your upper arms at 45-degree angles or less to your sides.
- Push the tricep bar up until your arms are slightly less than stretched in a controlled motion.
- Slowly lower the tricep bar back to chest height. Keep the angles of your upper arms in mind.
You could also do this exercise on the ground. This would be a tricep bar floor press.
However, these are less comfortable and generally involve a higher injury risk for your shoulders.
Since the tricep bar bench press is a “close-grip” variation, you will likely be able to lift less than in a regular barbell bench press.
When in doubt, you can start with light weights and build up from there.
Tricep bar bench press muscles worked
The main muscles you work in tricep bar bench presses are your chest, triceps, and front deltoids (shoulders).
If you keep your upper arms at about 45-degree angles to your sides, the exercise will work all of these muscles a lot.
The more you keep your upper arms to your sides in tricep bar bench presses, the more the tricep and front deltoid muscles take over from the chest muscles.
A potential downside of a tricep bar is that its weight limit is often “only” around 200 pounds (90.7 kg) (keep in mind that individual models can vary).
This can be a downside in tricep bar exercises like the bench press because some people need more resistance than this to grow and strengthen their strong muscles.
Tricep bar bench press benefits
If the weight capacity of the tricep bar is heavy enough for your strength level, this specialty barbell version can even offer some benefits over the regular barbell bench press. A few of these are:
- Can reduce injury risk: You want to keep your upper arms at the right angles during bench presses to reduce your injury risk. The neutral handles of tricep bars make these positions feel more natural.
- Can be more comfortable on your wrists: Tricep bars have neutral handles. These tend to be more comfortable for your wrists since it becomes easier to keep these straight and because you don’t have to twist them.
- Compact usage and storage: The tricep bar is a relatively compact piece of fitness equipment. Both in terms of usage and storage.
It is true that the tricep bar bench press is not the only exercise variation that offers these benefits.
At the same time, these are still helpful effects of a relatively budget-friendly workout tool.
Is the tricep bar bench press good?
If the weight capacity of this specialty barbell is high enough for your strength level, the tricep bar bench press can be good for training your chest, tricep, and shoulder muscles.
The neutral handles of the tricep bar can make the bench press more comfortable for your wrists and safer for your shoulders.
Something that makes the tricep bar more worth it in a situation like this is that you can use it for other exercises too.
On the flip side, it is important to keep in mind that more advanced lifters may find the typical tricep bar weight limit of around 200 pounds (90.7 kg) (but models can vary) lacking.
Additionally, not everyone likes the closer grip and the increased focus on your triceps and deltoids that typically comes with the tricep bar bench press.
You also want to consider how much you (will) enjoy tricep bar bench presses. This can influence how easy it is to stick to your exercise routine.
Can you bench press with a tricep bar?
Yes, you can bench press with a tricep bar. One thing to keep in mind is that these bars can typically hold a lot less weight. Advanced lifters may be unable to use enough resistance in tricep bar bench presses.