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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are You Using The Wrong Exercise?

I found this article by Jim Stoppani, PhD. on and felt I should share it with all of you. The upper chest is a weak spot for a lot of people, including myself. After reading this article the light in my head went off and I said "So this is the "trick" to a better upper chest" Try it out for 90 days and see if it works for you!

Most people think that to develop the upper chest you need to focus on the incline bench press. A recent study however shows that muscle activity of the upper pectorals during an incline press increased by only 5% as compared to the flat bench press. Muscle activity in the front deltoids increased by 85%!

The Reverse Grip Bench Press

The answer for increased muscle activity in the upper chest lies in the flat bench. Instead of a standard grip try using an underhand grip in an exercise called the reverse grip bench press. Be sure to use a wider than shoulder width grip. This will maximize the involvement of the upper chest and minimize the involvement of the triceps.

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 upper pec muscle fibers. The regular grip bench press uses more of the lower and middle pec muscle fibers. One study shows that muscle activity of the upper pectorals increased by 30% when using the reverse grip as opposed to the regular overhand grip.2

Tips For The Reverse Grip Bench Press:

1. Use a spotter to un-rack the bar.

2. If you’re training by yourself, un-rack the bar with a normal grip. Then lower the bar to your chest and carefully change your grip to a reverse grip.

3. Be sure to push the bar up in an arc above your head. This will ensure that you emphasize more of the upper pec.

About Jim Stoppani, PhD

Jim Stoppani received his doctorate in exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry from the University of Connecticut. Following graduation, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow in the prestigious John B. Pierce Laboratory and Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale University School of Medicine, where he investigated the effects of exercise and diet on gene regulation in muscle tissue. He was awarded the Gatorade Beginning Investigator in Exercise Science Award in 2002 by the American Physiological Society.

Here's to a new you!
Matthew Eubanks


Anonymous said...

Have tried Dr. Stoppani's movement and found the reverse grip to be spot on as had earlier contemplated. However, the upper arms should not be too parallel as the front deltoids will also be used. Best done with lighter dumbbells using the same grip in a flying motion on a slightly inclined bench.

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