The reverse grip push-up is a fun and great variation of the standard push-up. The exercise is done with your fingers facing your feet (your palms outward). It’s considered the “bicep push-up” by many because of the hand position it emphasizes a little more on your biceps than the standard push-up.
The reverse grip push-up is an upper body and chest exercise. In this exercise pretty much all the same muscles are used and trained as in an ordinary push-up. The main difference is that this variation trains and targets your forearms and biceps a little more than the normal push-up.
Primary muscles worked:
- Shoulders (deltoid major and minor)
- Chest (pectoralis major and minor)
Secondary muscles worked:
- Core muscles
- Lats and upper back
How to do reverse grip push ups
- First, you have to assume the starting position. Start by going down on the floor on your knees and hands.
- Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders with your palms flat on the floor and your fingers pointing towards your feet. If you feel discomfort in your wrists, then you can turn your hands a little bit inwards. Also, you can perform the push-up on your fists or knuckles instead.
- Next, extend your legs backward so that you would be in a high plank position. Your body has to form as straight of a line, from your head to your feet, as possible. Do not let your back round or arch, and do not let your hips drop down or rise up.
- Your hands should be a positioned a bit lower than your shoulders.
- Also, try to keep your head in a neutral position. Whatever you do, do not forcefully look straight ahead. That will both stress and strain your neck and your spine.
- Your feet should be about hip-width apart.
- Now, before you start the actual push-up, tighten and engage your whole middle section and especially your abs, and keep them tight for the entire exercise.
- Take a big breath in and slowly start to bend your elbows. Do not let your elbows move outwards (away from your body).
- Lower yourself until you are about an inch from the floor. Pause the movement when you are at the bottom for a second.
- Exhale and start pushing your body back up. Push through your palms like you would try to push the floor away from yourself. Try to keep your body still in a straight line while pushing up.
- While pushing up, squeeze your chest muscles.
- Finish the exercise by extending your arms completely out. Repeat this for however many repetitions you wish to perform.
Tips and recommendations
- If you don’t have enough mobility in your wrists for this push-up variation or it hurts your wrists you can try one of these solutions:
- Rotate your wrists a little inwards so they would be at about a 45-degree angle.
- Try the incline reverse grip push-up instead! Using an elevated surface you can grab will help you minify the stress you place on your wrists. Also, this variation doesn’t require as much mobility in your wrists as the original.
- Instead of placing your palms on the floor, do the push-up on your knuckles/ fists.
- Try using wrist straps.
- Place a pillow or a towel underneath your palms.
- Always make sure to do a proper warmup especially focusing on warming up and stretching your wrists!
- Keep your body in a straight line for the entire exercise.
- Keep your neck in a neutral position to avoid stressing and hurting it.
- Take it slow and easy when lowering yourself and really explode back up!
Reverse grip push-ups benefits
Increase pushing strength – It will increase your pushing strength and also your functional strength!
Great at-home exercise – It’s a great bodyweight exercise you can do anywhere also, it’s one of the few exercises you can do with your own bodyweight that targets and emphasizes your bicep muscles.
Work your biceps – It’s a great push-up variation to train your biceps and even your forearms. Your bicep will work mostly isometrically while you are lowering your body.
Improves wrist mobility and flexibility – The reverse grip push-ups require a good amount of mobility and flexibility in your wrists. Doing this exercise will help you improve the flexibility of your wrists quite a lot.
Reverse grip push-up variations
Barbell reverse grip push-up
This reverse grip push-up variation adds a great stability element to the exercise that forces you to use more of your core muscles to help you keep your body balanced and to ensure that the barbell doesn’t move away from you. Its also a lot more wrist-friendly variation because it places less stress and strain on your wrists.
How to do:
- Start by placing a barbell (with weights) on the floor in front of yourself.
- Next, go on your knees and grasp the barbell with an underhand grip. Grasp the barbell a little wider than your shoulders.
- Now move your upper body a bit forward to the barbell would be about 2 inches forward from your shoulders.
- Now assume a high plank position. Make sure your body is straight from your head to your heels.
- Engage your abs and core.
- Inhale and start to lower your chest towards the barbell by bending from your elbows. Lower yourself until you are about an inch away from it, then pause the movement for a second.
- Now exhale and push yourself back up into the starting position while contracting your chest muscles.
reverse grip incline push-up
This incline variation is a good push-up for beginners, people with bad wrists, and also for people who want to target their lower chest/pec area more. It’s a lot easier to perform and because you can grab the edge of the elevated surface, it doesn’t strain your elbows.
How to do:
- Place your hands on an elevated surface with your palms facing outwards and your fingers pointing towards your feet. Your hands should be a little wider than your shoulders.
- Next, assume a high plank position by extending and moving your legs outward.
- Tighten and engage your core.
- Inhale and start lowering your torso towards the elevated surface by bending from your elbows. Keep going until you are about an inch away from it. Then pause the movement for a second.
- Exhale and start pushing your body back up until you completely straighten your arms.
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