Reverse Grip Bench Press: What’s the Truth?

Nearly a year ago I wrote an article about the reverse grip bench press. The article touts the potential gains to upper chest stimulation from utilizing this grip. Despite direct statements from prominent figures in the bodybuilding world regarding the benefits, I dug deeper to find the truth about the Reverse Grip Bench Press.


There were tons of articles and PhD’s who referenced a research study done at a Chiropractic College in Canada. The interesting thing about research or information is that if there is enough information on a subject, then we all believe it to be true right? It’s like if they keep telling you there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, eventually you’ll believe it, despite the fact that they aren’t really there. Then when it turns out that the information was false, it’s all smoke and mirrors to lead you to believe it was all about something else.

Well, this is the status of our industry folks. The fitness industry seems to pride itself these days in pumping us full of information until we believe it to be true. We change our life; we buy their products; we pop pills and take protein powder because the “research” tells us that it’s good for us. Who’s research? Just so happens the so-called research is often funded by the same people who want the product in your hands. Often times your protein powder comes from the same factory as the protein powder sitting right next to your favorite brand. They just packaged it differently.

I say all of this to tell all of you readers that I don’t pull any punches. When I’m wrong, I’ll admit it to you. Why? Because I am like everyone else in this world…flawed and still learning daily. I am able to evolve and change. Science is always presenting us with new ideas and new information and when you have the ability to adapt and change, it makes you a stronger person. Like Bruce Lee once said, “Be Water.”

So about a month ago I finally got hold of the actual research study from Canadian Chiropractic College. It’s taken me a while to get around to posting this retraction, but I needed time to formulate my thoughts and opinions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this study doesn’t seem to support any additional gains or muscular stimulation to the upper chest from reverse grip bench press. Most other articles supporting this idea seem to have been retracted or removed altogether. Original articles that I used to support my report have been removed and it was only after a significant amount of digging that I came across this.

Here’s the link to the full study done at Canadian Chiropractic College, which you can read for yourself:

The Influence of Grip Width and Forearm Pronation/Supination on Upper-Body Myoelectric Activity During the Flat Bench Press



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:

6 thoughts on “Reverse Grip Bench Press: What’s the Truth?

  • September 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I don’t know about anyone else, but reverse grip works for me.After 3 shoulder surgerys and now bad elbows, it’s the only way I can still lift without too much pain. And i can lift asmuch or more than conventional grip. Actually now at my age 63 I’m lifting as much as I was 15 years ago and don’t train near as much. No ,I’m lifting more now!

      • September 5, 2012 at 9:06 pm

        wow he made that look easy! I wonder why the wabdl does’nt allow reverse grip?Do you know anyone who does?

  • August 27, 2012 at 7:36 am

    seriously….a chiropractic college? Since when did they get into the business of strength training? I immediately dismissed the credibility of the study when i saw it was a chiropractic school. Still waiting to see the australian study though.

  • September 5, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I started searching for info on reverse-grip bench press after I started doing them at home with dumbells. I don’t have a good way of doing incline press type exercises at home and reversing the grip seemed like a potentially good way to exercise the upper chest with only a moderate incline. One thing that jumped out at me in the study you cite is that they didn’t do narrow grip reversed because the bar seemed too unstable. I’ve been doing, essentially, a narrow grip with dumbbells, bringing my elbows more or less straight down to my sides. So, if I were standing, the motion would be more similar to my upper arms being raised in front of me.

    I’m not convinced that this works the upper chest in the same way that an incline press does, but it’s definitely harder and I feel the workout in the upper part of my chest.


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