One of the most common staples in the gym is the incline bench, usually done by lifters seeking to bring up their upper pecs. However, for this particular purpose, they may be wasting their time.
According to the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, the activation of upper pec muscle fibres involved only a 5% increase over the flat bench; furthermore, the incline bench actually hits your front deltoids at a rate of 85% of all muscle fibres worked. Upper pec involvement is minimal.
Use the Reverse Grip Bench Press
Recent research from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College has shown that doing the Reverse Grip Bench Press offers a 30% increase of upper pec activity over the flat bench, making it SIX TIMES more effective than the incline bench for hitting your upper pecs.
When performing this move, make sure to practice with a lighter weight since it’s an unusual feel when you grip the bar. Also, keep your grip width about 1.5 times the width of your shoulders, which will minimize the work of your triceps and emphasize your upper pecs.
By Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT
Photos of Lucas Reid by Arsenik Studios Inc.