How The Reverse Grip Bench Press Improves Bodybuilding Strength

This variation of the traditional bench press will challenge grip and work your chest muscles differently to enhance your strength and physique.

The bench press. We all know and love it for what it does for our chest growth and addition to a stellar physique. As one of the big three powerlifting exercises, the bench press seems to be one those lifts to test sheer strength and mental will. When asked, how much you bench is a common question among those who lift, similar to what your mile is for running. Great for targeting the upper and lower chest, as well as your arms and shoulders, the traditional bench press is important for functional movements and enhancing grip strength, while giving you confidence in knowing you can lift big.

But variations of the traditional bench press are equally as important as sticking with a normal grip and continually adding weight. The reverse grip bench press is one such variation that can provide for great benefits to your overall strength and power that should not be overlooked. An exercise that can target your muscles differently and more efficiently, the reverse grip bench press is a unique alternative exercise to the popular bench press.

Let’s take a closer look at the reverse grip bench press. From what it is, to muscles worked, and the great benefits this exercise can provide, the reverse grip bench press is something you will want to add to your routine. On top of that, you won’t be disappointed with the results this has towards your bodybuilding strength and physique.

bench press

What Is The Reverse Grip Bench Press?

The reverse grip bench press is a bench press variation that will change your grip so your knuckles face downward. What this does is it will tuck your elbows more and work the muscle typically worked in the traditional bench press much more. Just like the bench press, you can change your grip to be more wide or narrow depending on your comfort level. This will also help take pressure off your shoulders to enhance your physical health and work those muscles you want worked most to a greater degree.

Muscle Worked During The Reverse Grip Bench Press

The muscles worked during the reverse grip bench press are largely the same as a traditional bench press. Your chest muscles will feel a serious burn, as will your front delts, triceps, biceps, and forearms, which will help enhance better grip. The strain on your shoulders is far less than the traditional bench press and will allow for better activation of these other muscles so worthwhile growth is achieved.

bench press

Benefits Of the Reverse Grip Bench Press

Build Upper Body Strength

Like any big lift, with proper form and diligence under big weight, you will see greater hypertrophy thus leading to serious gains. The reverse grip bench press is a great exercise to really work on building your chest, and by allowing more tuck in your elbows, they will not flare out and lose muscle engagement. Working your triceps, biceps, delts, and forearms, you get a well-rounded exercise that will really make those pecs pop while also adding definition and strength to your arms for increased stability and support.

Relieves Shoulder Stress To Avoid Injury

One great benefit of the reverse grip bench press is that it will relieve your shoulders of serious strain put on by the traditional barbell. We often times overlook the amount of stress put on our shoulders from big lifts, but this is a mistake. Unwanted shoulder pain and strain can lead to injury which will really affect the way we move with other exercises, as well as keep us out of the gym for longer. The reverse grip bench press will take this load off and allow us to thrive when it comes to lifting (1).

Add Diversity To Your Lifts

We all know that performing the same exercises over and over again will eventually lead to a training plateau, something we can’t afford to have when looking to increase our strength. Substituting in the reverse grip bench press will allow us to work those same muscles differently and to a greater degree, leading to increased growth and killing the monotony of the same old exercises.


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How To Perform The Reverse Grip Bench Press

Here are the steps for performing the reverse grip bench press:

Lie on your back on a flat bench with your hands shoulder width apart on the bar. Your grip will be reverse, so your knuckles to the ground and hands in a supinated position. The rest is very similar to a traditional bench press. Lower the bar to your chest, making sure your elbows stay tucked in and feet grounded on the floor. Touch your chest softly and driving through your feet, push the bar back towards the top. Keep a slight bend in your elbow at the top keeping control and repeat for your desired number of reps.

bench press

Tips On How To Maximize Reverse Grip Bench Press Effectiveness

When performing the reverse grip bench press, making sure you stay solid and engaged is important. This will alleviate any issues with elbow flaring and too much arc in your back that can cause unwanted pain (2). Remember to keep a controlled motion as your form stays intact. The reverse grip bench press is a unique variation and will really enhance growth, but doing so safely is equally as important.

Wrap Up

The reverse grip bench press is a killer alternative to the traditional bench press as it will add variety to your workout and really target your muscles much more. This added engagement has great effects for growth and size, but also stability as you seek to always lift more. With those pecs popping and your arms really feeling great engagement, you won’t be disappointed with the results of the reverse grip bench press.

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*Images courtesy of Envato

References

  1. Barnett, Chris; Turner, Peter; Kippers, Vaughan (1995). “Effects of Variations of the Bench Press Exercise on the EMG Activity of Five Shoulder Muscles”. (source)
  2. Tungate, Phil (2019). “The Bench Press: A Comparison Between Flat-Back and Arched-Back Techniques”. (source)