Incline Bench Press

INCLINE BENCH PRESS

Muscles used

incline bench press

An incline bench press is ideal for loading and building the upper part of your chest muscles.  This is one of those exercises that has the potential to fill out the top of your chest with some additional muscle mass. 

Besides the muscles highlighted, this exercise will naturally recruit your biceps and triceps also.

How to perform an incline bench press

Firstly; this exercise is not performed on a standard bench, it has a bench of its own.  Most gyms will have an incline bench.  If yours does not, you can replicate it by using a free bench set at a 145 degree angle and a barbell.

The incline bench press is similar to a standard bench press, except you’re on an incline. – of course.  

Position yourself on the incline bench with your back flat against the back rest.  Grip the bar just outside of shoulder width apart.  Press your upper back into the bench and once you’re sufficiently braced; un-rack the bar and raise it up over your chest.  Slowly lower the bar down to your chest, pause, and then press back up slowly through the same controlled movement back to start position.  Go for reps.

Because this exercises recruits a different part of your chest, it will feel different to the standard bench press.  With this in mind; choose your desired load carefully.

Remember that the bar alone weighs 20kg (45lbs).  If you’re not sure that you can manage it, work your way up doing the same movement using a fixed barbell and a free bench.  Do this until you can confidently manage the load.

Alternatively, you can use the smith machine for assistance until you build up your confidence.  Don’t get too confident on this machine though; 20kg’s (45lbs) on the smith machine will not feel the same as 20 kg’s (45lbs) worth of free weight, so be aware of that as you progress.  

Incline bench press: Common mistakes to avoid

This is another one of those exercises that could easily result in injury if not performed correctly, so pay attention to your form and get it right before you start loading.

Remember that this is a chest exercise so you should keep the muscle you intend to work in mind when you are performing the exercise, this is the ideal way to ensure best results.

Reps and sets

As with all exercises, your incline bench press needs to be worked into your overall bigger picture.  How many reps and sets you perform with each exercise depends entirely on where you are physically and your desired outcomes.

As a rule of thumb; beginners should keep it simple; 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps is an ideal starting point.   For the purpose of laying a solid foundation to build upon; don’t over complicate things.  The most important thing at this stage is to get started, the rest will come with experience.

On the other hand, more advanced lifters should consider their current strength and goals.  See our One Rep Max Calculator for further guidance.

Check out more chest exercises and of course, be sure to track your lifts.