- Target muscle: Upper Pectoralis Major
- Synergists: Lower Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, Triceps Brachii
- Dynamic stabilizer: Biceps Brachii (short head only)
- Mechanics: Compound
- Force: Push
- Lie supine (on your back) on a flat bench and plant your feet firmly on the ground.
- Grasp the bar with a wide reverse grip (palms facing you) and unrack the barbell.
- Inhale as you lower the barbell towards your upper abdomen.
- Exhale as you slowly raise the barbell back up to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- After you’ve finished, return the barbell to the rack.
Comments and tips
- The wide reverse-grip barbell bench press is a fantastic exercise for building both your upper and lower pectoralis major. According to the first video below, presented by Dr Jim Stoppani, Senior Science Editor of Muscle & Fitness magazine, using a reverse grip for the barbell bench press increases activation of the upper pectoralis major more than the incline barbell bench press does. In other words, you do not need to use an inclined bench to emphasize your upper chest; you just have to use a reverse grip. Furthermore, by using a wide grip, as instructed above, you can decrease the involvement of your triceps brachii, thus putting even more emphasis on your upper and lower pectoralis major.
- The wide reverse-grip barbell bench press can be awkward, especially when you first start using it. For your safety, start light and have a spotter ready. If you do not have anyone to spot you, use a Smith machine or a power cage with the safety bars set at a safe height. See the second video for an example of using a power cage for safety.
- See also the reverse-grip dumbbell bench press, incline reverse-grip barbell bench press and the incline reverse-grip dumbbell bench press.
Wide reverse-grip barbell bench press videos
In this video, Dr Jim Stoppani explains the effect of the reverse-grip barbell bench press on the upper pectoralis major.
Here’s a video of how to perform the reverse-grip barbell bench press in a power cage, with the safety bars set at a safe height.