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2 Close-Grip Board Press

Board presses are used primarily by powerlifters for the purpose of getting used to handling heavier weights and targeting specific sticking points and ranges of motion. Bodybuilders can use them for the same reason, while also making some customizations for muscle growth.

My favorite are mechanical-advantage dropsets. You start a set with the hardest version of a movement, then switch to a more favorable one once you reach muscle failure. For our purposes here, that would mean reducing the range of motion incrementally by adding boards after every few reps, because it’s easier as you increase the thickness of the boards.

Close-Grip Board Press

The bench press has an ascending strength curve, meaning the closer the barbell is to lockout, the more you can lift. In other words, you’re weakest at the bottom and strongest at the top, and that bottom position is what limits the amount of weight you can use. Board presses circumvent this limiting factor by reducing the range of motion, so you blast the triceps with the overload they don’t typically see.

Key Training Tips
  • Like a regular close-grip bench press, take a grip that’s about 2-3 inches closer on each side than your normal grip. Perform the lift by lowering the barbell to the boards, then pressing it up to full extension as explosively as possible.
  • Use different board heights to vary your workouts. Most lifters will thrive using 2-5 different board depths.
  • If strength is your objective, train as heavy as possible for 3-5 sets of 1-3 reps; for hypertrophy, do 3-4 sets of 8 or more reps. For a combination, choose set and rep ranges that fall somewhere in between.

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