Want to put some extra oomph into your Bench Press? Vary your routine by performing the Incline Bench Press. Unlike the flat bench, the incline puts your upper body at a 45-degree angle for greater emphasis on working the upper chest and shoulder muscles.
Typically, you won’t be able to lift as much as you can from a flat bench. But don’t get discouraged. It’s important to train your muscles from all angles, and this is just one way to develop complete chest strength. It also ensures you can press in all angles on the field—since you won’t always press directly straight in front of you in live game action.
RELATED: Benefits of the Incline Bench Press
Here are four tips to get the most out of the Incline Bench Press:
1. Ease into it
The lifiting motion is the same as the traditional Bench Press, but the incline makes it more of a challenge, so start with a lighter weight. Begin by swapping the incline press for traditional press once a week. To enhance your overall strength, perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps with manageable weight. To increase size, perform 4-6 sets of 8-12 reps.
RELATED: 10 Bench Press Variations for a Bigger and Stronger Chest
2. Try different angles
The angle of the bench is another area where athletes struggle. The default for most incline benches is 45 degrees, but anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees is enough to stimulate the upper pectoral muscles. Experiment and find the angle most comfortable for you. Any angle higher than 45 degrees starts to shift the focus more to the shoulders, transitioning the move into a Shoulder Press.
RELATED: Bench Press Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise
3. Pay attention your lifting technique
Keep your feet firmly grounded. Grab the bar with a medium or medium-wide grip and lift the bar off the rack. I like to lock out and hold the bar for a second to get fully orientated to the angle of the lift. With your wrists straight and your elbows directly beneath them, lower the bar slowly to your upper chest (right below your clavicle), then raise it back to the starting position. This isn’t a speed exercise, so use a controlled lowering motion and avoid bouncing the bar off your chest. Also, it’s important to keep your back from arching. This makes the move easier, but it’s essentially cheating.
RELATED: Never Bench Press With Your Feet in This Position
4. Try a twist
For an additional twist on Incline Bench, swap out the barbell for a set of dumbbells. When you use dumbbells, you will focus on stabilizing your shoulders for the entirety of the lift. By enhancing your shoulder stabilizer muscles, you can eliminate weak links in the lifting process and burst through plateaus.