Build a Better Chest with a Reverse Grip

Reverse Grip Bench PressOne of my favorite exercises is the Barbell Bench Press. There’s just something great about pushing that weight off the chest and feeling the rush. I’ve always loved it since I was a teen playing high school football.

Later I began to body build, but the one thing I despised was incline bench. I was told that the only way I could get more muscle development in my upper pecs were to do incline presses so for years I grudgingly got under the incline and went to work. That was until I read a recent study.

How effective is the Reverse Grip Press?

According to a recent study by Scientists at Canadian Chiropractic College in Toronto found that a reverse grip barbell bench press with grip wider than shoulder width recruited about 30% more of the upper pecs than a regular overhand grip bench press. This is compared to the incline bench press which is said to recruit only 5% more of the upper pecs than an overhand flat bench press.

This made a lot of sense to me as the general supinated hand position seems to naturally engage more of the upper pectorals simply based on anatomic position. I’ve done Arnold press for years and never put two and two together. Arnold press not only works more of the anterior delts, but targets more of the upper pec as well.

So I’ve been doing reverse grip bench press for about 4 weeks now and not only do I seem to have rapidly gained strength in this exercise, but my flat bench weights have increased at the same time.

Safety Tips for the Reverse Grip Bench Press

Just a few suggestions before you tackle this exercise for the first time. Make sure you start with much lighter weight than normal and also make sure to have a spotter.

Stay safe and good luck building that upper chest.


Rich Thurman, MA, CSCS, CPT

Rich Thurman MA, CSCS, CPT is a Health & Performance Coach and Personal Trainer in from the United States, residing in Bangkok. Co-founder of Active Lifestyle Co. Ltd, Rich has worked with hundreds of people, from collegiate level athletes to every day people helping them reach their sports and lifestyle goals. With a focus on a holistic health approach, providing accountability and structured exercise programs for kids and adults, Rich has successfully helped many people transform their lives and perform better, maximizing their abilities in sports and life. Rich graduated Pre Med from UCLA with a Bachelors Degree in Physiological Science and obtained a Masters Degree in Sports Management from USF. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the NSCA and a Certified Personal Trainer. Author of various publications dealing with sports training and nutrition, Rich brings a high level of professionalism to the Bangkok Personal Training arena:

7 thoughts on “Build a Better Chest with a Reverse Grip

  • April 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Could you please put up a link to or the actual reference for this article?


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  • November 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I was introduced to Reverse Grip Presses by powerlifter Anthony Clark

    Imagine – 600 lbs reverse grip bench with no fancy powerlifting bench shirts

  • November 14, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I have tried reverse frip bench press a few times in gym but i always felt a little hard doing it. My home is far away from gym so I would like you to cover some good chest exercises that can be done at home without use of any equipments.

  • November 13, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    It was a bit akward for me at first but I became used to it after about 4 weeks of training.

    With regards to triceps, I always found close grip to be a pain on my wrists, which is why I hated doing them. You can however build meatier triceps with close grip as you can push heavier loads than say a push down.

    Some of my favorites for triceps have always been skull crushers as well as a bent over overhead tricep push down. I’ve have very large triceps which contributes to my overall arm size being good. I used to hate biceps as a kid, but while other guys worked biceps and kept complaining about their arms not getting larger, I did triceps and my arms got larger. The 3 muscles of the triceps simply take up more space on the arms.

  • November 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I hate doing reverse grip bench presses, they always seem so awkward.

    Saying that though the work of the triceps and the differing angle of the chest being worked must be good. I will have to take a look again. Another good exercise for a big more of a tricep burn is to use a closer grip bench, the closer the better for working the tri’s


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