Everything You Need To Know About The Inclined Bench Press

Just like a normal bench press, doing an inclined bench press will help build strength on your chest, triceps and shoulders. But since you are doing a different body position when doing an inclined bench press, you are putting more focus on the upper area of your chest muscle.

Lifters usually do this exercise during their chest and shoulder workouts. If you are able to do the proper technique, then you can ensure the exercise’s effectiveness and avoid putting stress on your shoulder joints. Also, this workout can be done with the use of either a barbell or a dumbbell wherein each one can deliver a different kind of effectiveness.


man with inclined bench press


Why Change the Angle?

Doing bench presses on a flat bench is good but changing the angle can even be better. By changing the angle, you are working your muscles in different ways which you can’t experience with a flat bench alone. If you do bench presses on an inclined angle, you are putting more focus on the clavicle area of the pectoralis major otherwise known as the upper portion of the muscles in your chest that attaches itself to the clavicle. But if you do a bench press on a flat bench, then you are focusing more on the sternal area of the pectoralis major or the bulkier lower area that makes up the nipple part and attaches to the sternum.


Aim for Variety

Another reason why you should incorporate inclination during your bench press workout is that variation is a key to avoiding strength plateaus. If you do the same set of exercises over and over again, your muscles are going to be used to that and you will notice from that point forward that you are not making any more progress. If you alternate between a flat bench and an inclined exercise every after a few weeks, you are likely to experience gains. By adding inclination to your chest workout routine, you will become stronger compared to just keeping steady to a flat one.

To add more variation on your inclined bench press, try changing the angle of the inclination from time to time. The standard incline benches usually allow a change of between 30 to 75 degrees. So by changing these angles every time your workout, you are increasing your chances of having more gains. Just keep on doing it to ensure that your muscles are never used to just a steady angle and the same type of chest workout.


photo of man's muscles when lifting


No Muscle is an Island

Despite the fact that the barbell inclined bench press is considered to be a workout for the upper area of the chest, this muscle group doesn’t work on its own. Your muscles known as synergists help your pecs push the bar up and above your chest. By working closely with your pecs, the front shoulder muscles or anterior deltoids helps push the bar upward while your triceps brachii helps extend your elbows.


Workout Preparation

Before starting this workout, adjust your weight bench to an inclined position of about 45 to 60 degrees. Put the barbell on the rack located behind the bench and put some weighted plates on it. Just a side note, lifting a barbell on an inclined position feels much different when done on flat so make sure to vary the amount of weights you put on it. Sit on the bench and lie on your back. Reach on over your head and hold a firm grip on the barbell that is slightly wider than your shoulders. Don’t try gripping the bar more than a few inches outside your shoulders since it will put stress on your wrists.


Exercise Technique

exercising men

Start the workout by dismounting the barbell from the rack and place it over your chest with arms fully extended. Slowly lower the barbell towards your chest with your elbows fully bent. The bar should be somewhere around the center of your chest instead on the upper area to avoid putting stress on the shoulder capsule. Stop the bar when it is about to make contact with your chest and push it right back up to the starting position until your arms are on a straight position once again.



When you do an inclined bench press, expect that the barbell or dumbbell that you’re holding will be much heavier and it is done over your head. With the way it is positioned, there’s a risk that you will lose control of the weight and may lead to a serious injury. It is recommended that you have someone who will act a spotter and must be strong enough to help lift the weight. Through a spotter, you will be ensured that someone will assist you in the events that you will struggle or lose control of the weight. Also, a good spotter will help motivate and encourage you to push way beyond your limits thus ensuring maximum gains during this type of workout.


Things to Avoid

To create effectiveness during your bench press workout, you should avoid bouncing the bar off your chest. If you do this then you’re taking the stress off of your muscles and will hurt your chest in the process. Just make sure that the bench isn’t on an angle that is too steeply. Keep in mind that the optimal inclination angle is somewhere around 30 to 45 degrees. This will put more emphasis on the upper chest without making it look like a military press.

Make sure that you also don’t have to put the racks too far away from the bench since this will end up putting too much strain on your shoulders. When doing a press, make sure that you do it straight upwards and avoid letting the bar go back over your face.

An inclined barbell bench press surely is a great way to strengthen your shoulders and add more bulk to the upper area of your chest. It will also cut down the cheating and will remind you where your standpoint is in regards to the pressing strength. Just use this variation during your bench press more often to ensure that you give balance to your physique.

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