The incline bench press is a great exercise for building a great round looking chest that is full and adds to your stature. This is a great variation to the bench press which helps to develop chest muscles by hitting them from a different angle than the bench press can. Greater stress is placed on the upper chest muscles, which is great for getting that full and round look that pushes your chest muscles through the top part of your shirt.
As mentioned above, primary stress is placed on the upper chest as well as the anterior deltoid (front shoulder) muscles and triceps. Secondary stress is placed on the rest of the chest muscle group as well as the upper back muscles.
First, be sure to check the weight racks that hold up the bar and make sure they are in the correct position. Each rack may look slightly different, but you should be able to adjust the height of the bar above the bench. The racks should be in a position that allows you to lift the bar out of the rack and put it back without stretching or significant amount of arm movement.
On some incline benches, the angle can be adjusted for variation in your workouts. If the bench is adjustable, you can experiment with different, angles until you find an angle that works best for you. The angle can be adjusted from time to time to add a different shock to your muscles that will encourage them to grow.
Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor or on the foot rests (if available) on either side of the bench. Grasp the bar with a grip that is approximately 3-5 inches wider than your shoulders. Notice that the gripping has an outer mark to help you find where to put you hands.
For many users, the hand will be just inside this outer grip, or perhaps the pinky or ring finger will rest on top of the line. The width of your grip will vary from person to person your grip will depend on your shoulder width and the lengths of your arms. Keep in mind that a narrower grip places greater emphasis on the triceps, while a wider grip transfers the stress to the chest muscles.
With the help of a spotter, extend your arms so that the bar is lifted out of the racks. Slowly move the bar above your chest and take in a large breath to prepare for the lift. Slowly lower the bar to a resting point above your chest, just slightly above the lower chest line. Be careful to keep your elbows back to allow for maximum pectoral movement and stretch. Once the bar has come to a rest, exhale and press the bar forcefully upward. Repeat this motion for the desired number of repetitions. When you are finished, have your spotter grasp the bar and assist you as it is lowered and placed back onto the racks.
Tips From the Trainer
When performing the incline bench press, keep in mind that different angles will work your upper chest in different ways. A lower angle will place more stress on the chest muscle group as a whole, but going at too high of an angle will shift the stress to your deltoid (shoulder) muscles and triceps, which is not the purpose of this exercise.
Because the incline bench press focuses more on the upper chest instead of the entire chest group, your muscles shouldn’t be able to press as much as possible as with the flat bench. Plan your exercises accordingly.
Be careful to always support the bar with your strength or the help of the spotter throughout the entire movement. Never rest the weight on your chest or bounce the bar off your chest. Remember, this should be a smooth motion for adding maximum definition and mass to your muscles.
The bench press is a high-intensity exercise which brings a high level of risk. Be sure to warm up properly before lifting heavy weights and work your way up to maximum exertion. Know your limits, and if you’re new to weight lifting, go light for a while until you get the hang of this movement. As with all exercises where weight is held above the head, this exercise should never be done without a spotter. If your muscles were to suddenly wear out and not be able to lift the bar to the racks, serious bodily injury could occur.
If absolutely no spotter is available to you, you may consider using the smith machine in case you can’t complete one of your repetitions. This option may not allow the full the same type of resistance as the bench press would otherwise allow, but it can be useful when no spotter is available to you.