What is incline bench press?
The incline bench press is a variation of the bench press which is performed on an incline bench at an angle of about 30˚. It is a compound exercise that is used to build upper body strength. Incline bench press mainly targets your upper chest and indirectly your front shoulders more than the standard flat bench press.
Which muscles incline bench press work?
The primary target muscle of the incline bench press is the pectoral chest muscle. It puts more influence on the upper chest fibres to build a complete chest. The secondary muscles include shoulder front deltoids and triceps.
Why do incline bench press?
One might think if we are doing a flat bench press that targets the entire pectoral muscle, then why perform an incline bench press? Well, it is up to you, if you want to build extra mass on your upper chest or you prefer otherwise. Here are some benefits of doing an incline dumbbell bench press.
1. More Upper Body Muscle
Definitely, you are going to build more upper body muscle by performing the incline bench press. This variation has the ability to be trained with heavy weights and high volume. This particular ability makes it a very effective compound exercise for not only strength but also for building mass.
2. Increased Chest Isolation
The angle of the incline bench press allows the development of weaker ranges and aspects of the chest. The bench press exercise whether it is flat, incline or decline, targets the pectoral muscles, but the increased angle of the incline bench can isolate the upper pectoral muscle
3. More Pressing and Overhead Strength
This can be a good variation for athletes. Varying the angles of pressing can help stimulate new muscle growth, address weak muscles and target sticking points. It can be helpful in diversifying their pressing strength and performance.
- If you have a bench with adjustable angle, adjust the angle between 15˚ and 30˚. Lie on the bench with your butt on the eat and your back slightly above the bench.
- Use an overhand grip about your shoulder width or a slightly wider. Or simply hold the bar at the width that your elbows make a 90˚ angle.
- Unrack the bar and bring it in front of your upper chest. Now, move the bar slowly as you exhale and bring it close to the upper chest while keeping the arms in a tucked position (making an angle about 45˚ or less).
- Inhale as you lift the bar to an arms-extended position in a straight line. Feel the stress on your pectoral muscles.
- Do recommended no. of reps and sets.
1. Lowering the bar toward your stomach:
Follow the path of the bar during the movement. It goes from over your shoulders to just under your chest. However, in the case of the inclined bench, there might be some problem due to the angle of the bench. Do not lower the bar towards your stomach, it will try to fall out of your hands.
2. Flaring your arms
Flaring your arms can cause you serious shoulder injury making you unable to bench press at all. Whenever you are bench pressing, always keep your elbows in a tucked position at about 45˚ or less with your body. keeping the elbows at 90˚ puts the whole pressure on the shoulder.
3. Bouncing the bar off your chest
This is a very dangerous mistake. You can touch the bar to your chest but bouncing it means your rep is not controlled and you are lifting too heavy. Try to use a lower weight.
4. Fighting through shoulder pain
Pressing with shoulder pain can be more dangerous. First, you need to work on the shoulder pain then try to lift weights. Make sure you are not making any of the above mistakes and correct the angle of the bench to a more comfortable pressing
Incline Bench Press Alternatives and Variations
You can also perform some variations of the incline barbell press once you are doing good on the traditional bench press for a while.
1. Incline Dumbbell Press
This variation is performed by replacing the barbell with a pair of dumbbells. This variation helps in improving stability and balancing strength on both sides. It is easier but you might not be able to lift as much.
2. Single-Arm Landmine Press
This variation is maybe useful for those going through shoulder pain. This exercise can also be used by overhead athletes for upper body training. It is performed by fixing one side of a barbell on the floor and pushing the other side of the bar forward and upward at about 45˚.
3. Incline Hex Press
This variation is slightly different and can be performed by either dumbbell or by a strength training plate. Lie on a bench holding dumbbells with a neutral grip and squeeze them together at the top in front of your chest, bring them down on the chest and then lift up at the starting position. Performing this variation can give you a massive pump on your pecs.
4. Smith machine incline bench press
The procedure is the same, just set an incline bench under a smith machine and perform the exercise.