Chest Training – Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is a great exercise to build your upper chest and shoulders. Lifting technique is very similar to flat bench press. Described here is basic techniques for a strong incline bench press.

Muscles Exercised:

The incline bench press focuses on the upper portion of your chest. It also taps your shoulders (anterior delts) and, as with the bench press, your triceps.

Exercise Technique: Technique for the incline bench press is very similar to the flat bench press. The lift may feel awkward at first, and you likely will not be able to press as much weight on the incline as on the flat bench.

  • Sit on the incline weight bench with your head, shoulders and buttocks in contact with the bench. Your feet should be flat on the floor, or on the bench’s platform if it has one. You should retain this position throughout your lift – none of your contact points should shift during the press.
  • The steeper the angle on your incline weight bench, the more emphasis it will place on your anterior delts. The typical angle of the bench should be in the range of 30 – 45 degrees.
  • Your grip on the bar should be wide but comfortable. For a normal width grip, some part of your hands should be on the ring in the knurling, however many bars have different placement of this ring. Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety. The bar should rest on the base of your palm, with the force of the bar driving down through your wrists and forearms. Resting the bar higher in the palm will place unnecessary strain on your wrists.
  • Keep your entire body tight as you unrack the bar. Your lats and chest should be tight, stabilizing the bar. Press down through your feet keeping your quads tight. Maintain this position, keeping your body tight and stable throughout your lift.
  • After unracking the barbell, lock it out at the top and control the weight before starting your lift.
  • Lower the bar to the upper portion of your chest in a controlled but quick manner. The bar should come to a complete stop on your chest to prevent bouncing.
  • Press the bar off your chest explosively using your chest and lats. Continue pressing until locked out again. Pause briefly between reps to ensure you have complete control of the weight.
  • Pressing the bar may seem awkward at first, due to the angle. Concentrate on pressing the bar straight up.
  • Always use a spotter when performing the incline bench press. For your working sets it’s a good idea to have your spotter hand off the barbell to you. This prevents you from lifting the weight out of the rack at an awkward angle that can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders. It also conserves your strength for your working reps.
  • Select a weight that you can perform all of your repetitions using proper technique. On your last 1-2 sets, your last repetitions should be very difficult.


  • Negatives: Bringing the bar down to your chest very slowly on the eccentric portion of the lift may allow you to exhaust your pecs, possibly spurring growth.

Additional Chest Exercises: Consider adding the following exercises to your chest routine:

  • Bench Press: Core chest exercise, targets the chest, but exercises also your shoulders, triceps, and lats.
  • Decline Bench Press: engages more of the pectoral muscles and has a shorter range of motion – you may find you can lift more on the decline than other benches.
  • Dumbbell Press: forces you to control the weights and can help you develop stabilizer muscles. You can do the dumbbell press on the flat bench, incline or decline.
  • Dips: exercises the lower portion of your chest and your triceps.
  • Push-ups: a simple chest exercise you can do anywhere.

Additional Shoulder Exercises: To improve your shoulder strength, try the following exercises:

Building Chest Strength: You don’t have to be a 500lb bench presser to benefit from powerlifting techniques. The articles below may give you some tips on increasing your bench press, and therefore your chest strength:

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