Bench Press Incline Reverse Grip Smith
- Lie face-up on an incline bench (angled 45 degrees) with feet flat on the floor on each side of the bench.
- Position the bench so that the bar is located above your chest when you are positioned under the bar.
- Ensure you have a five-point body contact with the bench. This includes the back of the head, the shoulder blades/upper back, glute region/lower back, and both feet.
- Grasp the bar with a supinated grip. Grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Lift the bar off the latches by rotating the bar.
- Extend elbows (without locking elbows) and push bar upward.
Downward movement/eccentric phase:
- In a controlled fashion, allow the elbows to bend while lowering the bar towards your chest.
- As the bar is lowered, the upper arms should be close to your torso.
- Lower the bar until it reaches your chest.
- Maintain the wrists rigid and directly above the elbows throughout the entire movement.
- Maintain the five-point body contact throughout the entire movement.
Upward movement/concentric phase:
- Extend elbows, pushing the bar upward, returning the bar to starting position (do not lock elbows).
- When your set is complete re-rack the bar by rotating the bar to relatch the bar.
- Maintain a tense grip on the bar until it is relatched.
FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Bench Press Incline Reverse Grip Smith
What Is A Smith Machine Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press?
An incline Smith machine reverse grip bench press is a resistance exercise, which involves the primary horizontal shoulder adductor, the pectoralis major. It is a variation of the incline bench press in which the wrists are rotated, switching to a supinated grip as opposed to pronated. This exercise is performed on a Smith Machine.
The concentric portion of the lift is shoulder flexion and elbow extension. The concentric portion involves the lifting of the weight. The eccentric portion is shoulder extension and elbow flexion, which involves the descent of the weight.
The purpose of the incline Smith machine reverse grip bench press is to strengthen the upper portion of the pectoralis major while promoting hypertrophy (increases in size) of this muscle.
Why Do A Smith Machine Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press?
Incline Smith machine reverse grip bench presses increase the size and strength of the upper (clavicular) and lower (sternocostal) heads of the pectoralis major. The supinated grip and inclined position, however, activates the upper (clavicular) heads. Therefore, the reverse grip incline bench press serves to develop the upper chest. The triceps brachii and anterior deltoid are also activated in this movement. The supinated grip also activates the biceps brachii.
Performing bench press variations on a Smith machine minimizes the activation of stabilizing muscles (i.e. rotator cuff muscles) as the range of motion is controlled. This may allow the lifter to lift heavier weight compared to what they can lift with a free-weight barbell. The Smith machine latches also provide a level of safety and may allow a lifter to press without a spotter.
The incline Smith machine reverse grip bench press serves as a valuable exercise to improve aesthetics of the pectoral muscle.
Anatomy Of A Smith Machine Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press
The pectoralis major is a large, fan-shaped muscle that spans across the chest, forming the front portion of the axillary fold (arm pit). It is divided into two parts: clavicular and sternal. Its origin is located at the sternal end of the clavicle, the sternum, rib cartilage (ribs 1-6 [or 7]), and the aponeurosis of the external oblique. The fibers of the pectoralis major converge at the point of insertion located at the greater tubercle of the humerus. The pectoralis major aids in pushing movements as the shoulder adducts the arm against resistance. The supinated grip minimizes horizontal shoulder adduction on the concentric phase and replaces it with shoulder flexion and elbow extension to lift the bar. Shoulder flexion activates the upper fibers of the pectoralis major.1
The inclined positioning of this exercise induces greater activation of the clavicular head of the pectoralis major.2 Both the reverse grip and inclined position of the bench promote activation of the upper chest.
The triceps brachii is located on the back of the upper arm, originating at the shoulder and inserting in the elbow joint. It consists of three heads, the long, medial and lateral head. The medial head lies beneath the long and lateral head. The long head origin is located at the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula (shoulder blade). The original of the lateral head is located at the posterior shaft of the humerus. The medial head origin is located at the radial groove of the posterior humeral shaft.
The long and lateral heads make up the “horseshoe” portion of the triceps. All three heads merge, sharing insertion into the olecranon process of the ulna, located at the elbow joint.
The triceps brachii extend the elbow joint. The long head assists in arm adduction as with the bench press pushing motion.
The deltoid is a thick, multipennate muscle that forms a curtain around the shoulder. It is the primary muscle involved with arm abduction and the anterior fibers are a primary shoulder flexor. The anterior deltoid is a primary synergist of the pectoralis. When developed, the deltoids give the shoulder their round shape. The origin of the deltoid is located at the insertion of the trapezius, lateral third of the clavicle and the acromion spine of the scapula. Its insertion is located at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus.
The anconeus is a short, triangular muscle located at the elbow joint. Its origin is located at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, inserting at the lateral aspect of the olecranon process of the ulna.
Like the anterior fibers of the deltoid, the coracobrachialis is a synergist pectoralis major with horizontal shoulder adduction. It is a small muscle originating at the coracoid process of the scapula and inserting half way down the shaft of the humerus.
The wrist flexors and extensors stabilize the wrists, the abdominals stabilize the torso and the rotator cuff muscles stabilize the shoulder girdle.
1. Paton ME, Brown JM. (1994). An electromyographic analysis of functional differentiation in human pectoralis major muscle. J Electromyogr Kineseol. 4(3): 161-9.
2. Trebs AA, Bradenburg JP, Pitney WA. (2010). An electromyography analysis of 3 muscles surrounding the shoulder joint during the performance of a chest press exercise at several angles. JSCR. 24(7):1925-30.
Variations Of A Smith Machine Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press
(Flat bench) Smith machine reverse grip bench press, wide and reverse grip Smith machine bench press.
How To Improve Your Smith Machine Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press
Bench press variations on a Smith machine requires less activation of the shoulder’s stabilizing muscles, therefore, it is important to strategically alternate between free-weight versions of this exercise (i.e. incline barbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press) and the Smith machine. Performing the free-weight variations of bench press activates these stabilizing muscles (i.e. rotator cuff muscles) and optimizes shoulder and chest strength performance.
The confined tracks of the Smith machine may also place negative stress on the wrists with a reverse grip, therefore, the barbell variation should be considered as a common alternative to the Smith machine.
Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as arms are fully extending as you push the bar upward.
Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.
In order to improve pushing performance through “sticking points”, partial repetition ranges may be implemented to improve full range of motion of the bench press. Strategically varying your grip width (narrow, standard and wide grip) and hand positioning (supinated grip, pronated grip) can improve overall bench press performance.
Varying your Smith machine bench press angles (e.g. decline bench, flat bench) can optimize fiber activation of all portions of the pectoralis major.
It is important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between chest and triceps training to allow muscles to repair.
Common Mistakes When Doing A Smith Machine Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press
It is very common to observe an individual arching their back in efforts of lifting the weight with more ease. This technique should only be performed by weightlifting professionals and can compromise the safety of lifters.
Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding A Smith Machine Incline Reverse Grip Bench Press
If proper technique is not adhered to (e.g. arching of the back, dropping the weight quickly instead of controlling the descent on the eccentric portion of the lift), the likelihood of injury increases.
If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, biceps tendonitis/biceps tendinosis and glenoid labrum tears may result. It is best to avoid bench press exercises when addressing impingement syndrome/rotator cuff injury unless advised by a physical therapist.