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Raise Your image1

Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Training Articles
By Josh Bryant, MFS, CSCS, PES | Dec 23, 2013



Using a Reverse Grip Bench
Press To Build Your Upper Chest



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Behind bars, the upper chest is referred to as the hood. In commercial gyms the hood is usually lacking. Let's take a stroll in my hood and look at how to develop your hood.

Powerlifting Influence
In the 1990s, the late Anthony Clark set the iron world a blaze by breaking a string of bench press world records using a reverse grip.  Admittedly, Clark was not lean like a bodybuilder, but had the biggest, most developed hood in any hood!

Fellow Texan and top Super Heavyweight powerlifter, Jim Voronin, suffered a pec tear while bench pressing in preparation for the 1996 powerlifting world championships in South Africa. Jim, not one to lie down and forfeit his title, sought an alternative strategy and started bench pressing with a reverse grip.

Jim received an additional benefit and was kind enough to share in an email correspondence, "It was like I had been concentrating on inclines for months but I hadn't done any, my upper chest grew and grew and it was very noticeable within a couple of months."

Questioning the Establishment
The long standing dogma suggests the best way to build the upper chest is with the Incline Press. The reverse grip bench press is not mentioned in text books and is overlooked by ‘experts.'

Dr. Maxwell Maltz shed some words of wisdom on this topic: "Any new knowledge must usually come from the outside.  Not from the 'experts' but from what has been defined as an 'inpert'." An 'inpert', according to Maltz, is someone who develops knowledge outside the prescribed boundaries of a given science.

The Wright brothers were not aeronautical engineers, but rather bicycle mechanics. Maltz was a plastic surgeon that developed Psycho-Cybernetic techniques to heal his patients psychologically after they had been fixed physically. If we don't develop new techniques, we will get the same results. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Let's buck the establishment and look to our powerlifting brethren on how to build the upper chest.

Science Speaks
A recent Canadian study showed that the reverse grip bench press increased upper pec activation by 30 percent compared to a traditional/flat pronated grip bench press.  Comparatively, inclines produce about 5 percent greater upper pec activation over traditional bench presses.

Jim Stoppani, PhD explains, "The reverse grip helps keep your elbows in and your upper arms parallel to your torso.  Moving your arms in this manner increases the use of the upper pec muscles."

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Technique Guidelines
  • Grab the bar with a supinated (reverse) grip, with thumbs around the bar, using same grip width as a regular bench press
  • Squeeze the bar tightly
  • Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides, lower the bar in a controlled fashion, touching the lower chest
  • From the bottom position, press the bar back up to the start position
  • Repeat

Routines
Few things draw attention and command respect like a big, beautiful hood. To develop a chest that will be the envy of most men and the terror of any tailor, try any of the following routines.

Here is a Cluster Routine to Maximize "Hood" Development with the Reverse Grip Bench Press
  • Week 1: do 60 % of your "regular" bench press max for 3 reps, rest 25 seconds. Repeat this for 5 minutes, last set do as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure.
  • Week 2: do 60 % of your "regular" bench press max for 4 reps, rest 25 seconds. Repeat this for 5 minutes, last set do as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure.
  • Week 3: do 60 % of your "regular" bench press max for 5 reps, rest 25 seconds. Repeat this for 5 minutes, last set do as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure.

Here is a Rest-Pause Routine to Maximize "Hood" Development with the Reverse Grip Bench Press

  • Week 1 do 70 % of your "regular" bench press max for as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure, rest 15 seconds. Do as many reps as possible stopping one shy of failure, rest 15 seconds and repeat the process.  Do a second rest pause set in the same manner after resting 3 minutes and reducing the weight by 10%.
  • Week 2 do 75 % of your "regular" bench press max for as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure, rest 20 seconds. Do as many reps as possible stopping one shy of failure, rest 20 seconds and repeat the process.  Do a second rest pause set in the same manner after resting 3 minutes and reducing the weight by 10%.
  • Week 3 do 80 % of your "regular" bench press max for as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure, rest 30 seconds.  Do as many reps as possible stopping one shy of failure, rest 30 seconds and repeat the process.  Do a second rest pause set in the same manner after resting 3 minutes and reducing the weight by 10%.

Here is a German Volume Density Training Routine to Maximize "Hood" Development with the Reverse Grip Bench Press

  • Week 1 do 55 % of your "regular" bench press max for 10 sets of 10 reps, resting three minutes between sets
  • Week 2 do 55 % of your "regular" bench press max for 10 sets of 10 reps, resting two minutes and 30 seconds between sets
  • Week 3 do 55 % of your "regular" bench press max for 10 sets of 10 reps, resting two minutes between sets

Final Thoughts
Science and anecdotes both confirm the effectiveness of the reverse grip bench press for building the "hood."  An added benefit is this movement removes stress from the shoulders and works the triceps harder than a regular bench press.

It's time to upgrade your hood, give the reverse grip bench presses a shot.

Have you tried to incorporate incline bench press reps and reverse-grip reps into your regimen for upper chest? Which do you prefer? Why? Let us know in the comments field below!

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Disclaimer: The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.





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