Incline Bench Press: How To, Tips, Benefits

When it comes to chest day, the incline bench press is a hard-hitting upper body exercise, that will help you build a bigger, stronger, and more defined chest. Incline bench allows you to isolate and target your upper pecs, in lieu of working your shoulders for a well-defined and formidable physique.

What Is The Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is a compound movement and works multiple muscle groups such as the pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and your triceps. Setting the bench at a 15-30% incline will activate your shoulders and place less stress on your rotator cuff, which is a common area for injury during flat bench press.

Like most exercises there are several variations of the incline bench press. Wider and narrower grip positioning will also target different parts of your chest to ensure a well-rounded aesthetic, more strength, and improved posture.

Some incline bench variations include 

Incline Bench Press Benefits

Incline bench press provides a wide-variety of benefits for your training and performance. To start, it's what's called a compound movement.  Compound movements work multiple muscle groups, joints, and stabilizing muscles all at the same time, developing more functional raw power and strength. Additionally, the incline bench press isolates your upper pecs, facilitating more muscle growth and development for a better more defined physique. 

  • Increased Strength
  • Better Posture
  • Stronger Upper Back And Chest
  • Better Chest Definition
  • Increased Shoulder Strength

How To Incline Bench Press

  1. Lie flat on an incline bench and set your hands just outside of shoulder width on the bar, and feet firmly planted into the ground. Make sure your feet are placed proximal in towards your body, while keeping them flat on the floor. This will provide a good base for more driving power when it comes to heavy loads and finishing your set.
  2. Back position is equally as crucial as your feet placement. Squeeze your shoulder blades by pinching them together and driving them into the bench and slightly arch your back.
  3. Grip is the next focus point. Make sure your palms are rotated completely under the bar. Grip position also depends on specific intent and goals. If you want to develop the outside of the chest, a wide grip is recommended as opposed to a conventional grip which is placed right outside the shoulders.
  4. Take a deep breath and unrack the barbell. Allow your spotter to help you with the lift off in order to maintain tension and positioning of your upper back. If you are not using a spotter, please note that the incline bench will be harder to unrack at heavy loads as compared to flat bench.
  5. Inhale and descend the bar slowly in a straight line just touching your chest, bracing your abdominals and core.
  6. Drive the bar back up, let out your breath, and drive your feet into the floor, tightening your glutes, and pushing under the bar with one fluid motion, and extending the elbows.

Incline Bench Tips And Tricks

  1. Always focus on executing proper form. Your body works in a specific plane of motion. Ensuring your grip, feet placement, and breathing is in line with your lifts, will produce better results.
  2. Make sure you are descending the bar down directly in a straight line. If the bar becomes to distal towards your feet, you can potentially lose your grip and cause injury.
  3. Don’t pay attention to the weight. Everyone is different and we all have our own journey to follow. Ramp up your load and volume slowly overtime.
  4. Incline press should be used in your training program, but not used on every chest day training split. Exercise variability is important to increase muscle mass, strength, and core strength. Utilize different barbell variations within your training program, not just barbell bench.
  5. When you plan to max out, make sure you have a spotter, so you can obtain one rep, with full range of motion.
  6. Imagine that you are pushing your body away from the bar, instead of pushing the bar away from your body. This will encourage you to use good form.
  7. Before you begin your first set, place your hands on the bar and pull your chest up to the bar. This will loosen your muscles in preparation for more weight.
  8. If you want to work your triceps, use a close grip that is shoulder width apart.
  9. When deloading keep your elbows tucked and close to your sides as possible
  10. As you push the bar off your chest, squeeze and press the bar outward, as if you were trying to pull the bar apart. This forces more muscle fibers to be activated.
  11. Your glutes and shoulder blades should maintain their contact throughout your entire lift.
  12. Maintain control of the bar, touch your chest, and do not bounce the bar or lift your glutes from the bench.

Incline Bench Press: Takeaway

If you're wanting to develop more total body strength and build a strong, well defined and powerful chest, the incline bench press is a must have exercise in your training program. Incline bench will help increase power and strength to complement training outcomes and support your overall performance.  

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