This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the Reverse Grip Bench Press.
What is the Reverse Grip Bench Press?
So, what exactly is the Reverse Grip Bench Press? It is a Barbell Bench Press variation performed with the hands and palms facing upwards in a supinated position.
This wide, thumbs out grip provides more horizontal travel than the standard Bench Press.
Muscles Worked by the Reverse Grip Bench Press
The Reverse Grip Bench Press works the:
- Chest (major and minor)
- Front Deltoid
As a variation of the Bench Press, the exercise works many of the same muscles in slightly different ways.
Some are worked harder, such as the wrists and biceps.
The two main muscles that are tested and improved here are the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.
The Reverse variation tends to touch lower on the chest and you will feel like it is working the upper pecs harder.
Like its traditional cousin, this exercise also hammers the triceps and can lead to significant strength and muscle gains (depending on your training strategy and programming).
There is a significant amount of shoulder flexion involved in the Reverse Grip Bench Press and this leads to more work for the biceps. This additional stimulus will help you to grow bigger and stronger guns.
The front deltoid is primarily targeted by this exercise.
Forearms and Grip Strength
The wrists are active and engaged in a unique way throughout the full range of motion.
They are slightly cocked back (in order to maintain a solid grip) and this will really test and enhance your strength.
Benefits of the Reverse Grip Bench Press
The unique exercise has many benefits.
Grow a Bigger Chest
One excellent benefit of the Reverse Grip Bench Press is that it will help you to grow a bigger chest, especially the upper chest.
Make sure to work within hypertrophy ranges for your sets and reps (3 – 5 sets of 8 – 12 reps) if muscle gain is your goal.
Build Upper Body Strength and Muscle
The supinated grip leads to the elbows tucking in more. This places more emphasis on the upper chest, front delts, and biceps and targets them in a very unique way.
This leads to a stronger upper body and more muscle mass for your frame.
Improved Wrist Mobility and Strength
The movement requires and builds strong wrists. A valuable and underrated asset for any fitness lover and a great way to prevent injury when lifting for the long run.
If you are new to the exercise build up the weights gradually so that you don’t overload your wrists.
Enhanced Forearm Strength
In a similar way as above, the forearms must also work significantly to support the barbell. This strengthen and improves them.
Better Balance and Coordination
The Reverse Bench Press can feel awkward at first and demands good balance and coordination.
Because you have to work to stablise as well as move the load, your body will enhance its proprioceptive abilities and coordination accordingly as you adapt.
Adds Variety to your Chest Training
The Reverse Grip Bench Press is an excellent exercise to use when you hit plateaus or sticking points in your chest training.
The variety and alternate stimulus that the exercise provides will allow you to strengthen your Bench Press in other areas. This will improve your Bench Press in general and keep your training fun and your body guessing.
It’s Great for a De-load
With this variation you will not be able to lift as much weight as your conventional Bench Press. This makes it a natural choice for a de-load week.
How to do the Reverse Grip Bench Press
Set up the barbell on the Bench Press as you normally would for the conventional exercise.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you have an experienced spotter.
The Reverse Grip Bench Press should always be done with a spotter, especially when you are learning the movement.
- Lie down on the bench with the (racked) bar at eye level
- Grip the barbell wider than shoulder width apart. Palms facing upwards. Thumbs facing towards the bumper plates.
- Bend your wrists slightly to allow the barbell to sit in your palms
- Plant your feet into the ground
- Inhale and brace your core, glutes and legs
- Adopt a bend in your back but make sure your shoulder blades and glutes are touching the bench
- Un-rack the barbell
- Lower the weight until the bar touches your chest and sternum
- Power the barbell back up to the starting position. Keep your elbows tucked in
- Exhale at the top of the movement
- Repeat for the desired number of reps
When un-racking the barbell, it is your choice whether you want the spotter to help or not.
Reverse Grip Bench Press Variations
Any horizontal pressing movement with a supinated grip can serve well as a variation for this exercise.
- Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press
- Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press
- Reverse Grip Machine Chest Press
Reverse Grip Bench Press Alternatives
The 6 best alternatives for this exercise are:
- Banded Push-Up
- Banded Dumbbell Bench Press
- Banded Bench Press
- Banded Chest Press
- Bench Press with Chains
- Board Press
If you still have questions, we’ve got you covered.
What is the Reverse Grip Bench Press Good for?
The Reverse Grip Bench Press is a great exercise to target your upper chest, front deltoids, biceps, triceps, forearms and wrists.
It will significantly improve your balance, coordination and confidence and is also exceptionally useful for any de-load period within an athlete’s training.
What Muscles does the Reverse Grip Bench Press Target?
The exercise works and improves your chest, front delts, triceps, biceps, forearms and wrists.
What are the Differences between the Reverse Grip Bench Press and the Traditional Bench Press?
The grip is the main difference. The Reverse Grip Bench Press also has a wider grip with the elbows tucked closer in towards the body.
My Wrists Hurt when I use this Grip, what Should I Do?
Determine whether this is pain caused by injury or natural pain from the exercise itself. It is very natural for the wrists to hurt at first. Over time they will adapt, grow stronger and stop hurting.
Make sure to build up the weights slowly and gradually and allow your wrists and forearms time to develop.
How Can I make the Exercise more Comfortable?
Establish a slightly wider grip. This will allow your hands to angle out properly and make the entire lift more comfortable without losing any of the gains.