Reverse Grip Bench Press: How to Perform, Benefits & Expert Tips 

A vector image of a bench press - it is the main image to the article "Resistance Band Bench Press".

The reverse grip bench is one of the most underrated exercises in the world.  

On top of doing everything that the traditional bench press does, the reverse grip bench press also has some unique benefits that might make you reconsider your stance on this exercise. 

Let’s dive right into it and take a look at how to perform the reverse grip bench press, the benefits that come from performing the reverse grip bench press, and some expert tips.  

What is the Reverse Grip Bench Press? 

If you’re looking to spice up your chest workout routine, the reverse grip bench press might be just the exercise for you.  

Unlike the traditional bench press where your palms face away from you, the reverse grip bench press requires you to grip the barbell with your palms facing towards you. 

This simple hand positioning tweak can have a significant impact on the muscles targeted during the exercise and bring numerous benefits.  

How To Do The Reverse Grip Bench Press 

Perfecting your reverse grip bench press form is of the utmost importance if you want to get the most out of this exercise and stay injury free.  

Here’s a step by step guide to form:  

Step 1: Adjust the Hooks to the Correct Height 

Before you start, make sure the hooks on the bench are set at a height that allows you to unrack and rack the barbell comfortably. You should be able to reach the barbell without straining or losing proper form. 

Step 2: Set-up Your Body on the Bench 

Sit on the bench with your back flat against it and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Position yourself so that the barbell is directly above your upper chest. Your body should be in a stable and balanced position, ready for the exercise. 

Step 3: Prepare to Unrack the Bar 

With the barbell in front of you, reach up and grip it with an underhand grip, palms facing towards you. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, depending on your comfort level. Engage your core and stabilize your shoulders as you prepare to unrack the bar. 

Step 4: Unrack and Let the Bar Settle 

With a firm grip on the barbell, unhook it from the rack and hold it above your chest. Take a moment to allow the barbell to settle and find your balance before proceeding to the next step. 

Step 5: Execute the Rep 

Lower the barbell slowly and under control towards your lower chest while keeping your elbows slightly tucked in. Maintain a steady and controlled pace throughout the movement. Once the barbell reaches your chest, push it back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms. 

Step 6: Rack the Barbell 

After completing the desired number of repetitions, carefully guide the barbell back to the rack and secure it in place. Ensure that the barbell is properly racked before you stand up from the bench. 

Reverse Grip Bench Press vs Regular Bench Press 

Now that you know how to perform the reverse grip bench press, you may wonder how it compares to the traditional bench press. 

The reverse grip bench press places more emphasis on the triceps and the lower portion of the chest compared to the regular bench press.

By altering your hand positioning, you engage these muscles in a slightly different way, making it a valuable variation to add to your chest workout. 

Additionally, the reverse grip bench press can be beneficial for individuals who struggle with wrist pain or discomfort during the regular bench press. The underhand grip reduces the stress on the wrists and shifts some of the load to the forearms. 

However, it’s worth noting that the reverse grip bench press generally allows for lower weights compared to the regular bench press.  

This is due to the change in grip and the involvement of different muscle groups. While it may not be the exercise of choice for maximizing pure strength, it can certainly be an effective tool for targeting specific areas of the chest and triceps. 

Incorporating the reverse grip bench press into your routine can provide variety and help break through plateaus.  

Who Is The Reverse Grip Bench Press For? 

The question of “is reverse grip bench press effective” is incredibly popular, and for most people, the answer to this is going to be a resounding yes. 

If you’re looking to add some diversity to your training routine, break plateaus, or specifically target certain muscle groups, the reverse grip bench press might be just what you need.  

The reverse grip bench press is suitable for individuals of varying fitness levels, from beginners to advanced lifters. 

However, if you have any underlying shoulder or wrist issues, you may want to consider whether or not this exercise would be a good fit for you as it can put more stress on these joints.  

Reverse Grip Bench Press: Muscles Worked 

Chest Muscles 

One of the main reverse grip bench press muscles worked is the chest.  

The reverse grip bench press primarily targets the pectoralis major, which is the large muscle group located in the chest.  

This variation places additional emphasis on the upper chest region, stimulating growth and improving overall chest development. 

Shoulder Muscles 

Along with the chest, the reverse grip bench press also engages the anterior deltoids, the muscles at the front of your shoulders.  

This exercise provides a unique stimulus to the shoulders, helping to build strength and promote balanced shoulder development. 

Arm and Forearm Muscles 

The reverse grip bench press involves the activation of the triceps brachii muscles, located at the back of your upper arm.  

Additionally, the forearm muscles, such as the brachialis and brachioradialis, come into play as they assist in stabilizing the grip throughout the movement. 

5 Benefits of The Reverse Grip Bench Press 

1. It Can Build Strength In The Upper Body 

On of the most significant reverse grip bench press benefits is that it can build overall upper-body strength, perhaps even more so than the traditional bench press.  

The reverse grip bench press places a unique stress on the muscles of the chest, shoulders, arms, and it also incorporates the biceps to a much greater degree than the regular bench press.  

By challenging these muscle groups in a different way, you can break through plateaus and build overall upper body strength. 

2. It Can Generate Greater Upper Chest Hypertrophy 

The reverse grip bench press is one of the best bench press variations when it comes to targeting upper chest, and if this is an area that you want to develop, you might just want to include it in your routine.  

3. It Can Introduce Variety Into Your Program 

Adding variety to your training regimen is essential to keep your muscles guessing and avoid stagnation.  

Incorporating the reverse grip bench press provides a fresh stimulus, helping to challenge your muscles in new ways and potentially ignite new growth. 

4. It Can Be Used During A Deload 

Adding variety to your training regimen is essential to keep your muscles guessing and avoid stagnation.  

Incorporating the reverse grip bench press provides a fresh stimulus, helping to challenge your muscles in new ways and potentially ignite new growth. 

5. It Can Be Used To Train Around An Injury 

If you’re dealing with a shoulder or wrist injury that prevents you from performing the traditional bench press, the reverse grip bench press can offer an alternative.  

By altering the grip, you can reduce stress on the injured area while still working the targeted muscles. 

Important Tip: Have An Experienced Spotter 

Having an experienced spotter is crucial when performing the reverse grip bench press.  

This exercise can put a significant amount of stress on your shoulders and wrists, so it’s essential to have someone by your side who can assist you if needed. A spotter not only provides an extra level of safety but also helps motivate and encourage you during your workout.  

They can help you maintain proper form and step in if you struggle with the weight. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to weightlifting! 

Precautions For The Reverse Grip Bench Press 

While the reverse grip bench press can be an effective exercise, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure your safety and get the most out of the exercise. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

Warm-Up Properly: Before diving into the reverse grip bench press, make sure you warm up your entire upper body. This will increase blood flow to the muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury. 

Start with Light Weights: If you’re new to the reverse grip bench press, start with lighter weights to get a feel for the exercise and gradually increase the load as you gain confidence and strength. This allows your body to adapt to the movement and reduces the risk of straining or overloading your muscles. 

Maintain Proper Form: Form is critical in any exercise, and the reverse grip bench press is no exception. Keep your back flat against the bench, shoulders retracted, and your core engaged throughout the movement. Make sure to lower the bar in a controlled manner and push it back up using your chest and triceps muscles. Avoid excessive arching of the back or bouncing the bar off your chest. 

Avoid Over-Gripping: While the reverse grip may feel different and challenging, avoid over-gripping the bar. Squeeze it firmly but not excessively. Over-gripping can put unnecessary strain on your wrists and forearms, potentially leading to discomfort or injury. 

Technique Tips 

  1. Hand Placement: Position your hands on the bar with a grip slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Rotate your hands so that your palms face towards you (pronated grip). This reversed grip places more emphasis on the triceps and upper chest muscles. 
  1. Body Position: Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor and your back pressed firmly against the bench. Maintain a natural arch in your lower back and keep your shoulder blades squeezed together for stability. 
  1. Bar Path: As you lower the bar towards your chest, focus on maintaining control and a slow and controlled descent. Aim to touch your chest with the bar lightly. Then, push the bar back up to the starting position using your chest and triceps muscles, exhaling as you exert force. 
  1. Breathing: Inhale before lowering the bar and exhale as you press it back up. Breathing properly helps stabilize your core and provides more power during the exercise. 
  1. Gradual Progression: As you become more comfortable with the reverse grip bench press, gradually increase the weight. It’s important to challenge yourself, but always prioritize good form and safety. 

Reverse Grip Bench Press Variations 

Close Grip Reverse Bench Press 

This variation involves bringing your hands closer together on the barbell.  

By reducing the width of your grip, you place more emphasis on your triceps and inner chest muscles.  

It’s a fantastic way to build upper body strength and improve triceps definition. 

 Just make sure to maintain proper form and control throughout the movement. 

Reverse Grip Incline Bench Press 

If you want to target your upper chest and shoulders more intensely, the reverse grip incline bench press is an excellent option.  

Set the bench to an incline position and perform the exercise with a reverse grip. 

This variation places more emphasis on the clavicular fibers of your chest, helping you achieve a well-rounded chest development. 

Reverse Grip Dumbbell Bench Press 

Dumbbells offer a great opportunity to work each side of your body independently, promoting better muscle balance.  

To perform this variation, lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the dumbbells with a reverse grip and press them up, focusing on your chest muscles. 

The reverse grip dumbbell bench press is an effective exercise for improving stability and strength. So, grab yourself a reverse grip bench press dumbbell and get lifting.  

Reverse Grip Bench Press Alternatives 

Incline Dumbbell Press: This exercise targets the upper chest and shoulders. Lie on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip. Press the dumbbells upward until your arms are fully extended, and then slowly lower them back down to your chest. 

Push-Ups with Narrow Hand Placement: Push-ups are a classic bodyweight exercise and can act as a great reverse grip bench press alternative. To target these muscles similarly to the reverse grip bench press, try performing push-ups with a narrow hand placement. This variation places more emphasis on your triceps. 

Chest Dips: Chest dips are a challenging exercise that primarily targets your chest muscles. Using parallel bars or dip bars, lower your body by bending your arms until your shoulders are slightly below your elbows, and then push yourself back up. 

Close-Grip Bench Press: This exercise focuses on your triceps but also engages your chest and shoulders. Lie on a flat bench and grip the barbell with your hands closer together than in a regular bench press. Lower the barbell towards your chest and then push it back up. 

The Reverse Grip Bench Press Adds Challenge and Variety to a Go-To Exercise 

At this point, you now know everything there is to know about the reverse grip bench press. 

The last step is to just give it a shot. 

While it can feel unnerving doing exercises that are not mainstream, you will soon realise just how good this exercise is when you begin to develop reverse grip bench press triceps and pecs.  

So, what are you waiting for?  

Reverse Grip Bench Press – FAQs 


What Does Reverse Grip Bench Press Work? 

The reverse grip bench press works the chest, shoulders and triceps.  

Is Reverse Grip Bench Better? 

The reverse grip bench press is better for some people.  

The reverse grip bench press does a better job at hitting the upper and also protects the shoulders more, making it great for people trying to target their upper chest or for those with shoulder pain.  

Is Reverse Grip Bench Press Harder? 

Yes, the reverse grip bench press is harder than the traditional bench press because it requires more wrist flexibility and also puts more emphasis on the biceps and forearms.  

Is Reverse Grip Better Than Incline? 

Yes, the reverse grip is better than incline if you are looking to target your biceps/forearms more or protect your shoulders. 

Although, the reverse grip bench press vs incline debate is highly controversial, and it mostly just comes down to personal preference.  

What Is The Reverse Grip Bench Press Good For? 

The reverse grip bench press is good for protecting the shoulders, targeting the upper chest, and increasing stimulus on the forearms and biceps.  

What Muscles Does The Reverse Grip Bench Press Target? 

The reverse grip bench press targets the chest, triceps, shoulders, biceps, and forearms.  

It also works abs slightly when performed correctly.  

What Are The Differences Between The Reverse Grip Bench Press And The Traditional Bench Press? 

The differences between the reverse grip bench press and the traditional bench press at the reverse grip bench press puts more of an emphasis on the upper chest, biceps, and forearms. 

The reverse grip bench press is also better for protecting the shoulders, but it does require more wrist flexibility.  

My Wrists Hurt When I Use This Grip, What Gives? 

The reverse grip bench press requires more wrist flexibility and strength than other bench press variations, so you may feel some discomfort when you begin to incorporate this exercise in your routine.  

Doesn’t The Reverse Grip Bench Press Target Your Triceps More? 

No, the reverse grip bench press does not target the triceps more than the regular bench press.  

The same amount of elbow flexion is used in both movements, so there is no additional stimuli placed on the triceps.  

Any Other Tips To Make This Exercise More Comfortable? 

You can make the reverse grip bench press more comfortable by performing a good warm-up routine and starting with lighter weight and progressing as you go to build wrist strength and flexibility.  

We hope we have been able to give you a better insight into the reverse grip bench press. 

If you follow all of the steps and tips we have discussed in this article, you will nail this exercise in no time. 

If you would like additional help on performing the reverse grip bench press or are just interested in getting your hands on more fitness content, feel free to head over to MovingForwards to check out what else we have to offer. 

See you next time!