Incline Bench vs Reverse-Grip Bench for the Upper Chest

As far as most trainees are concerned, the chest can be trained from three angles: incline, flat, and decline. They will tell you training at an incline trains the upper chest, training on a flat bench works the middle chest, and training on a decline works the lower chest and that these are the three variations you should implement into your workout to best target the portions of the chest individually. However, this is far from the truth. In fact, research has shown that reverse-grip bench presses cause far more muscle activity than do incline bench presses as far as the upper pectorals are concerned.

Australian researchers, in a report to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, concluded that when trainees performed incline bench presses, the muscle activity of the upper pectorals was only 5% greater than the muscle activity of this same region during the flat bench press. Additionally, Canadian researchers found that, when trainees performed the reverse-grip bench press, the muscle activity of the upper pectorals was 30% greater than during performance of the flat bench press (with overhand grip).  Muscle activity, which measures the number of muscle fibers that are being used during the performance of an exercise, shows that reverse-grip bench presses may be a better builder of the upper chest than are incline bench presses. However, this does not mean that we should abandon the incline presses altogether! Learn how to mix up your workouts by incorporating reverse grip presses at the beginning of your workouts and watch your chest fill out before your eyes.

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