For years it has been standard bodybuilding/fitness dogma that the higher you raise the incline the more upper chest muscle fibre recruitment you can expect. This has led to many fighting in the 5pm gym rush for the few incline benches that are normally left on a busy evening. However, want some real world stats on how much additional emphasis really places on the upper chest… 5%. That’s it. No typo. 5%.
If this didn’t make you feel like you’ve been wasting your time and efforts enough this most likely will (along with why incline bench presses are usually a good 30-50% harder than flat) – during the incline bench press you also gain a whopping additional 85% more stress placed on the deltoids. Again no typo – 85%!
Is there a solution?
You bet there is, and most likely in an exercise you’ve probably never even heard of before – The Reverse Grip Bench Press (RGBP). The RGBP in contrast provides 25% additional upper chest muscle fibre recruitment, that’s 5 times more than your time old counterpart. Other alternatives with efficient/superior muscle activation than the incline press with minimal deltoid strain are Mid-height Cable Crossover (I recommend from around waist height, finishing chest to chin height) and the Banded Press-up.
The Reverse Grip Bench Press – Tips and Structure
A common habit for many when acquiring a new training ‘toy’ is to immediately prioritise it. In this case I will stress that for optimal chest development it is important not to let any of these take priority over your staple compound lift which will always be the key to a strong and shapely chest be it the Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press.
Use the Reverse Grip after your main compound lift for 4 sets of 10-15 reps to gauge the feeling and technique before advancing onto anything fancy such as drop or supersets.