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December 11, 2021 8 min read

The reverse grip dumbbell press can be a highly effective training exercise. This article will show you how to do the reverse grip dumbbell press with the proper technique. We will introduce to you a few workouts that you can start using immediately.

As with all forms of weightlifting, it is important to follow the correct form for the reverse grip dumbbell press. Before we get into the exercise, you’ll first need to warm up the muscles and joints you will use for these upper body workouts.

Fitness man stretching shoulder for warming up before gym indoor workou

Warming Up Your Muscles and Joints

When you are getting ready to do a reverse grip dumbbell press workout, always complete a proper warm-up first to avoid debilitating injuries. It also helps to  follow a customized diet plan that will help you build muscle. It may seem like a waste of time and energy to spend a long time just warming up, but focusing on your muscle activity is a necessary part of the bodybuilding process that serves as a platform from which you can safely lift big weight.

Your spine provides the stability for all of your pressing movements.

This means that weak or inflexible core muscles affect how well your arms and legs function, which can drain power from many of the exercises you do, including your presses. That being said one of the most important muscle groups when it comes to the stability of your lumbar spine is the core. 

By building up your core strength and stability, you reduce the chance of injuring your spine and improve power transfer when performing pressing exercises.

In terms of your core training, the most important muscles involved in these exercises are your obliques, your abdominal muscles, your spinal erector and your transversus abdominis.

Performing horizontal presses with dumbbells increases the stabilization demands of your core and ensures an equal load on each arm. When you do dumbbell presses with a reverse grip, always start with light weights because of the instability associated with using dumbbells. You can do reverse grip dumbbell presses with a flat, incline, or decline bench. You can also do them from the floor while lying on your back.

Benefits of the Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press

In general, a press can be considered a weightlifting exercise in which you lie supine on a bench and with both hands, you push a barbell or fixed weight upward from your chest level to the extended length of your arms. The regular bench press has long been considered a standard type of this exercise, but doing presses with dumbbells can offer you many additional benefits too.

For most beginners, the reverse grip dumbbell press offers a lower risk alternative to the traditional bench press for people who have shoulder injuries and shoulder pain. Particularly for muscle building, training the chest and triceps through horizontal pressing movements is important to build a muscular upper body. 

Most traditional chest exercises involve a pronated grip for a standard bench press, or a neutral grip or underhand grip sometimes performed with dumbbells or a chest press machine. The reverse grip offers a different kind of stimulus to your muscles.

The change in movement activates slightly different fibers, which can really help increase your muscular development. 

Another major advantage of the reverse grip dumbbell press is that it does not put any compression on your spine or your joints. As long as you keep your back strong and straight, the dumbbell press is a relatively safe total body exercise that will offer you some impressive results, even if you have experienced upper back pain or lower back pain in the past.

Lower back pain is a debilitating problem which can be prevented by exercises like the dumbbell press that promote resilient core muscles. Lower back pain can be an especially important consideration for powerlifters or for lifters who have not performed their exercises with the proper form.

Another benefit of the reverse grip dumbbell press is that you can add a lot more variety to your exercise program.

Variety in your workouts decreases the risk of getting tired of following the same routine indefinitely. This reduces the risk of overuse injuries and keeps your body from becoming too adapted to one movement, which can potentially stall your gains. Strength and muscle building requires an extended long-term commitment, so varying your exercises becomes very important as you progress in the world of bodybuilding.

Dumbbell presses can also improve the overall strength, power, and speed of many types of athletes.

The exercises force you to stay tight and strong at all times, making you concentrate on your breath and bracing your total body through the full range of motion. The movement improves your grip and forearm strength, so if strength improvement is your main focus, you can use a low rep count and a heavier weight.

Muscles Worked by Reverse Grip Dumbbell Presses

The reverse grip dumbbell press specifically targets all of your pectoral muscles, but the major muscles that are worked when you do the reverse grip dumbbell press exercises include the clavicular area of the pectoralis major (the upper portion of the chest). You’ll feel the effects of these exercises in all of your chest muscles, but especially in your upper pecs.

The reverse grip dumbbell press exercises also work your bicep and tricep muscles quite hard, as well as the brachii and the brachii anterior deltoid (which is your front shoulder muscle), which are commonly referred to as the delts.

As mentioned earlier, the dumbbell press is a great exercise for all types of athletes because it will also help train your core muscles and help improve your overall balance and stability. 

How to Do the Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press

Pressing with a reverse grip will target your upper chest in particular, especially when you perform the exercises on an incline or decline bench.

The type of bench you choose will have a big effect on the specific muscles you train.

An incline bench press places higher demands on the upper chest muscles due to the increased angle that you use (it is more vertica and usually up to 45 degrees from the horizontal position). We suggest you get started by performing all of the basic movements listed below in 8 to 12 reps per set or more, as part of your upper-body or chest-focused training routine.

Follow the step-by-step instructions below to start doing the exercises:

  1. Start off by laying on a flat bench, an incline bench, or a decline bench and hold a dumbbell in each of your hands, about shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Begin the exercise with your arms extended above your torso and your palms forming a supinated grip. 
  3. In your starting position, your back should be arched as your feet push firmly into the ground, and your lats should be tight.
  4. Lower the weights to your chest by flexing your elbows. 
  5. After a brief pause, return the weights to the starting position by extending your elbows.
  6. Repeat the dumbbell bench press exercise for as many repetitions as you like.

Precautions When Doing the Reverse Grip Dumbbell Press 

Although the reverse grip bench press is fairly safe when performed correctly, there are some safety considerations you’ll need to be aware of. The biggest issue is that your grip will be less mechanically secure compared with the traditional bench press. This can increase the risk of dropping the weights or having them slip from your hands. If your gym allows it, putting some weightlifting chalk on your hands can really improve your grip and prevent this from happening.

You can also reduce slip risk by practicing the movement with light weights until you master the range of motion and grip dynamics.

In general, this is always good advice to follow when you are performing new exercises and it is one of the best ways of preventing injuries when you are learning new movements. You’ll soon find that the reverse grip dumbbell press is a safe and effective movement and worth doing for most general fitness and muscle building purposes.

Another good way to reduce slip risk is to  wear a wrist wrap.

Your hands and wrists are essential parts of every workout. They perform an important function because they always take the brunt of the heavy loads you might be lifting. The hand is made up of 27 bones, and eight of these are in the wrist, held together by a network of ligaments and tendons. This means the anatomy of the wrist is very complicated since it must be flexible in order to sustain and execute a wide range of hand movements.

The main function of a wrist wrap is to support the wrist joints during heavy or maximum effort lifts in pressing motions and overhead lifts. That being said, most initial dumbbell press workouts are intended to be done with light dumbbells. As always, choose a lighter weight as you are beginning and scale up to heavier weights as you learn the proper form and become stronger.

Keep Your Training Varied and Your Body Guessing

When you are going through your regular rotations of training your shoulders, arms, and chest, dumbbell press workouts can be some good ways to introduce new stimuli into your training routine. They force you to move your body in new and different ways and to challenge your mind to think differently about the familiar movements you have already been using in a traditional bench press.

Mastering the reverse grip dumbbell press and  increasing your overall strength and mobility can help alleviate lower back pain. Keep your core tight and your back straight, and take it easy when you are just getting started with a new exercise.

Doing intense dumbbell press workouts can lead to some impressive muscle gains over the long run and some real gains in the size and strength of your arms, shoulders, and chest. If you have a personal trainer, be sure to have them help you with the proper form for these exercises.

If you want to improve your general strength, try training your chest twice per week with these exercises and other variations such as using an incline or decline bench. It is quite common to pair your chest with different muscles like your triceps and the other muscles of your upper arms because all of those muscles work together in many types of lifts.

You might also prefer to train your whole upper body (chest day) and then your lower body (leg day) in two different sessions. A lot of lifters seem to vary widely when it comes to which types of exercises they prefer to do. The key, as with many aspects of weightlifting, is to find out which strategy works best for you.

Doing all of your weightlifting exercises in a careful and methodical way can really give you the results you are looking for. There is no point rushing through your workout simply to get them over with. Spend a good amount of time on each specific exercise to get the results you want.

Combining all of your workouts with sufficient rest and recovery periods is very important when it comes to your overall workout routine and allowing your body to heal and grow.

Using Supplements to Enhance Your Performance

If you are feeling a little low on energy, a great supplement for you to try is our  ENHANCED PRE-WORKOUT STACK for advanced energy, focus, pump, and endurance.

If you are looking for the maximum results in the least amount of time, this is an excellent all-in-one stack to fuel your body with everything it needs, before, during and after training to achieve your goals as fast as possible.

Using other types of dietary supplements can also be a good strategy. We recommend the Alpha Omega Stack T-Boosted Muscle Builder for fat loss, pump, and deep sleep recovery. This is a combination of five of our best products to help you increase lean muscle mass while dramatically improving your strength and power.