Plateau Busting Exercise For The Upper Chest

Are you frustrated with not seeing strength and size gains in your chest even though you’ve been faithfully powering through your workouts every week?  I am right there with you.  I reached a personal best a couple of years ago when I was powerlifting, and I’ve not been able to get past that in spite of  all the traditional techniques like overload, dropsets and negatives.

Muscles are inherently lazy and you’ve got to change-up your methods to wake up those stubborn chest muscles.

IF YOU WANT SOMETHING YOU’VE NEVER HAD, YOU MUST BE WILLING TO DO SOMETHING YOU’VE NEVER DONE. 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

The reverse grip bench press (RGBP) is a gem of an exercise that is often overlooked because people have the wrong idea that it’s dangerous.  The obvious danger would be if you put too much weight on without having proper form, but that is true for any weight training exercise.

If you are having shoulder pain and/or elbow pain the RGBP can give your joints time to heal while still improving your pressing strength.

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When performing the RGBP, the elbows come in toward the rib cage.  This motion maximizes the involvement of the upper chest and, depending on the width of your grip, it can also target the triceps.

One study shows that muscle activity of the upper pectoralis increased by 30% when using the reverse grip as opposed to the regular overhand grip. (1)

Tips For The Reverse Grip Bench Press

  1. Start with a light weight to get used to the feel of the exercise.
  2. Position yourself farther back on the bench.
  3. Place your hands a little further than shoulder width apart.
  4. Bring the barbell down to your lower chest, pause and press up.
  5. Pick a spot straight above your chest to stare at which will ensure that you emphasize more of the upper pec.

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I would suggest starting your chest routine with this exercise and perform 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps.  Really focus on squeezing the upper chest at the top of the movement.

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