Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is a variation of the standard bench press that targets your upper chest muscles. The basic exercise is the same, but the difference is that an incline bench press is performed with the bench set at about a thirty degree incline. The change in angle works the upper chest and shoulders harder.

Most lifters use the incline bench press to follow their bench press sets. It's common for a smith machine to be used for the incline bench because it forces the lifter to push straight up and drop the bar to the correct part of the chest. Dumbells or a barbell are used in the incline bench press.

How to perform the incline bench press

Setting up your incline bench
Set your bench up so that you have it at approximately a 30 degree incline. It doesn't matter if it's a bit lower, but don't go any higher than that. If you are using a smith machine, make sure you get your bench in the correct position. You want the bar to hit the top of your chest, so adjust your bench accordingly.

Lay down on the bench and set your feet firmly on the floor. Use a spotter to pass you the bar. Grip the bar using the correct grip. For how to find your correct grip, see the top tip below.

incline bench press tip An easy way to check if you're using the correct bench press grip is to grab a bar with no weights on it, adopt your normal grip, and bring the bar down to your chest. Now look at the angle of your forearms. They should be pointing straight up (vertical) at a 90 degree angle to the bar. You have your maximum power at this angle.

incline bench press start
Incline bench press show here with purpose built incline bench

Squeeze the bar tight and slowly lower it down to your upper chest (about 1/2 way between your nipples and collarbone). Stop the bar about 1 inch off your chest, pasue, then slowly push the bar up to about 2 inches before the starting position (this will stop you from locking your elbows and keep your target muscles tight).

incline bench press finish

Incline Bench press tips and safety advice

  1. The incline bench press is meant to compliment the bench and is often good used as a follow up exercise. Try doing a 5 set flat bench pyramid followed by a 3 set incline bench press
  2. You will find that on an incline bench press you cannot bench as much as you can on a regular bench press, as the incline bench press relies more on the front deltiods (shouders). If you're not sure you can push out a whole set, use a spotter! Safety First!
  3. Plant your wide apart, feet flat on the floor for stability. And don't move them while performing the incline bench press. Tighten up your whole body from head to toe for the whole set.