August 21, 2021 9 min read
Every lifter, bodybuilder, and powerlifter knows a thing or two about the bench press. The regular bench press is one of the best exercises for building a bigger and broader chest!
However, doing the same old bench press every chest day can get old quickly. Thankfully, there are plenty of bench press variations that you can do to change up your existing chest workout. One of the best bench press variations is the reverse grip bench press!
The reverse grip bench press is an underhand grip variation of the regular bench press. Also known as the supinated bench press, the reverse grip press is one of our personal favorite bench press variations!
To help you change up your chest workout, here is everything you need to know about the reverse grip bench press. Enjoy your chest workout a little more and challenge your chest muscles in new ways!
The reverse grip bench press is an excellent compound exercise. Compound exercises are those that work more than one muscle group at a time. The underhand bench press targets many of the same muscles as the standard bench press.
However, it does target some different muscles and works some more than others.
The ones that get fired up the most include:
One of the most evident differences between the overhand and underhand bench press is the location in the chest that it targets. The traditional bench press targets the middle, upper, and lower chest, while the underhand press targets the upper chest. More specifically, it targets the upper pecs.
The pecs are the largest muscles in your chest muscle group. They originate underneath the armpit then fan out over the chest. Their primary function is to initiate arm movements from the shoulder joint. Therefore, the stronger your pecs are, the more powerful arm movements you are able to make!
The specific part of the pecs that the exercise works is the clavicular head of the pectoralis major. The clavicular head is directly underneath the deltoid. It is the smallest region of the pec major.
The other evident difference between the standard overhead and reverse grip press is that the reverse puts more work on the triceps. The triceps are the muscle on the back of your arms. Its primary function is to extend the elbow. Considering there are not that many exercises for working the triceps, adding the reverse press to your routine is great if you want to grow your triceps!
The biceps are the muscle on the front side of the arms opposite the triceps. Their most important function is to flex and extend the elbow. Like the triceps, the biceps are put to work harder in the reverse grip underhand press than in the overhand press.
Fourth, several small muscles make up the forearms, including the:
Even though they are tiny muscles, you need the forearms to assist the biceps and triceps in moving the elbow. Lastly, the reverse grip bench press targets the front of the deltoids. The deltoids are a three-headed muscle that covers the top of the shoulder.
The reverse grip press targets just the frontal head, which is located just above the upper pecs. The roles of the frontal deltoid head include keeping the humerus stable and abducting the shoulder.
Given all of the primary mover muscles that it targets, you can probably already tell that the reverse grip bench press is highly beneficial for muscle growth.
However, there is much more to the reverse grip press than just helping you build muscle mass.
We narrowed down the top three benefits of the reverse grip press other than helping you build pure muscle mass, and here they are:
The reverse grip press is one of only a few chest exercises specifically designed to hit the upper chest.Why is it essential to have a built upper chest? The upper chest, particularly the clavicular head, is vital to shoulder joint health. Unfortunately, shoulder joint injuries are one of the most common injuries that lifters face.
One of the best ways to avoid shoulder injuries is to improve clavicular head strength by doing exercises like the reverse grip press. Moreover, stay injury-free by hitting the upper chest! Also, the clavicular head of the upper chest is at the very top of the chest. If you are going for that enviable broad chest look, you must hit the reverse grip press! Feel stronger and look better at the same time.
A deload period is a week-long weightlifting break that lifters take to avoid injuries and allow their muscles time to rest. It is very common in bodybuilding and powerlifting and can actually help lifters build more muscle in the long term.However, most lifters do not entirely stop all physical activity during their deload period.
Instead, they shift their focus to light cardio, significantly reduced intensity weightlifting, or targeting muscles groups that they don't usually target. This is where the reverse grip press comes in handy! If a lifter usually does the regular bench press, they can switch to the reverse grip press during their deload period.
Because the reverse grip targets different muscles than the regular grip, they give their regular press muscles a break while stimulating the upper chest muscles that they don't usually work. Therefore, they give some muscles a break while firing up some new ones.
Do you struggle with shoulder pain or have a shoulder injury? If so, then opt for the reverse grip bench press instead of the regular bench press.The reverse grip press does not put as much strain on your shoulder joint. As a result, you can still strengthen your chest muscles while avoiding worsening your injury.
Now that you know all that is good about the reverse grip bench press, you are ready to try it yourself! Before getting started, you need to set up your bench and power rack. Start by setting the flat bench to completely flat. Then, lay flat on the bench with your chest under the barbell and reach up to grab it underhand.
You want the bar to be directly over your upper chest. Also, you want there to be only a slight bend in your elbows. If your arms bend more than 15 degrees or your arms are completely straight, then adjust the height of the pins. Once you have your equipment set up, you are ready to go!
Here is how to do the reverse grip bench press with proper form:
Regardless of how many benefits an exercise has, it is only worth doing if you do it with good form! Proper form ensures that you reap all the benefits of the movement and reduce the likelihood of getting injured.
Keep these essential form tips in mind for when you do the reverse grip bench press:
While we love the reverse grip bench press for switching up your regular bench press, there are even more variations than just this one!
To add even more variety to your chest day routine, give these other top bench press variations a try:
Your chest day should consist of more than just bench press exercises and variations. Integrating chest cross-training exercises into your routine will not only help you build a bigger chest, but will improve your reverse grip bench press performance.
Here are our top chest cross-training exercises:
Grow your chest, strengthen your upper body, and switch up your existing chest day workout with the reverse grip bench press. While we love the standard bench press, we highly suggest changing things up a bit with this variation. Changing up your routine will challenge your muscles in new ways to kick hypertrophy into overdrive!
Do not hesitate to grow a better chest. Get going with the reverse grip bench press today!
Bonus tip: While the reverse grip bench press targets the upper chest, you should not neglect the lower chest! With that said, check out our list of the top lower chest exercises to balance out your chest muscles!