The bench press is the king of chest exercises, but if it’s the only one you ever do, you won’t be maximising the improvements you can make to your chest strength. It’s important to vary the moves you do to work all your chest muscles, and the good news is you don’t really have to vary them much – simply setting up your bench at a different angle will change the benefits you get from the chest press.
Like the flat bench press, the incline bench press mainly works the chest muscles, and it works them hard. The triceps and shoulders are also involved in the exercise, as with the flat bench press.
However, the emphasis is a little different with the incline press, which hits the top half of your pecs harder. The higher the incline, the more work your shoulders are doing.
How To Do The Incline Bench Press
Set up your bench at an angle of around 30-45°. Lie back and place your hands on the bar, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your palms facing up. Lift the bar out of the rack and press it up until your arms are extended and your hands are above your shoulders. Slowly lower the bar to your chest, then press it back up again.
Make sure to reduce the weight when you first try the incline bench press, compared with what you normally bench.
Incline Bench Press Variations
Dumbbell incline bench press
Just as with the flat bench press, swapping the barbell for dumbbells means you can work both sides of the body unilaterally, helping to identify your weaker side and improve it. Using dumbbells can also help you avoid shoulder injuries.
Hold the dumbbells by your chest with your palms facing forwards. Press them straight up until your arms are fully extended, pause, then lower under control.