Incline vs. Reverse Grip Bench Press

Which exercise is better for building the upper chest?



Bodybuilders have been doing incline bench presses for decades to bring up the upper chest.


Research on incline and reverse- grip bench presses suggests that reverse-grip bench presses my be a better upper-pec builder.


  • Australian researchers reported in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that when weight-trained subjects performed incline bench presses, the muscle activity of their upper pecs was only about 5% more than the muscle activity of their upper pecs during the flat bench press.
  • Canadian scientists found that when trained lifters did the reverse-grip bench press, the muscle activity of their upper pecs was 30% greater than when they did the bench press with a standard overhand grip.


Since muscle activity is the measurement of how many muscle fibers are being used during an exercise, reverse-grip bench presses appear to be a better exercise for the upper chest than incline bench presses.


To target the upper pecs, start your chest workout with 3 or 4 sets of reverse- grip bench presses. Then, move on to incline bench exercises, such as incline presses and flyes. – FLEX