The incline bench press is one of the most effective chest exercises you can perform.
The incline bench press’s biggest advantage is that it really targets the upper half of your chest. This gives your chest that shelf look. And this makes the incline bench press the best chest exercise for aesthetics.
In this article I’ll be covering in particular:
- The barbell incline bench press.
- The dumbbell incline bench press.
So if you want to supercharge your gains on the incline bench press, read on.
The Incline Barbell Bench Press
To perform this exercise you’ll need:
- An adjustable or 30/45-degree bench.
- An Olympic barbell.
- Weight plates.
You can find this equipment in any gym worth its salt.
1. Lie on the bench with your feet placed just under your knees with your toes slightly pointed out. You also want to make sure you lie back on the bench so that your eyes are directly under the bar.
2. Take a medium grip on the barbell so that your palms are in line with your elbows.
3. Grip the bar so that the bar is in your palm. This will reduce pressure on your wrists.
4. Retract your shoulders and stick your chest out. Think of this as bringing your shoulders up and back. This decreases the range of motion of the exercise and increases shoulder stability.
5. Arch your back enough to fit a fist between your lower back and the bench. Your lower back is naturally curved, so benching with a slight arch can feel more natural.
6. Unrack the barbell and lower the bar down so it touches your clavicle. Your clavicle can be located at the upper part of your chest below your chin. Once the barbell is touching your chest explode the bar back up.
Extra Tips For The Incline Barbell Bench Press
- Make sure your elbows are tucked in. This will help maintain good shoulder health. Because flaring your elbows will likely cause some shoulder soreness. Flaring your elbows out could also lead to shoulder problems later down the line.
- Squeeze the bar as hard as you can, this will give you a boost in strength.
- Brace when your benching.
- To brace take a deep breath into your diaphragm at the top of the rep, hold it, perform the rep and release the breath once you finish the rep, then reset again at the top of the rep. This increases intra-abdominal pressure and will give you a boost in strength.
- Before performing the incline bench press I recommend that you warm up with the bar and lighter weights.
- Always use a full range of motion. This means locking your elbows out in full extension at the top of the rep and letting the bar touch your chest at the bottom of the rep. No half rep Harrys.
How To Perform The Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
The equipment you’ll need for this exercise is:
- A dumbbell set/rack or adjustable dumbbells such as Bowflex dumbbells.
- An adjustable bench.
1. Set the adjustable bench at a 30/45-degree angle.
2. Pick up some dumbbells you can safely use with proper form.
3. Sit on the bench and place the dumbbells on your knees. Make sure the dumbbell head is on your knees so you can use your knees to kick them up.
4. Retract your shoulders back and stick your chest out. Think of this as bringing your shoulders up and back down.
5. Kick and push the dumbbells up to your chest. When the dumbbells are as high as your chest remember to tuck your elbows in and arch your back which will naturally help you stick your chest out.
6. Perform your set. Always make sure you’re in control of the weight. Don’t let the weight control you.
Tips For The Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
- Use your knees and arms to push the dumbbells up to your chest.
- Don’t set the adjustable bench too high otherwise you’ll turn the exercise into a shoulder press.
- You shouldn’t need a spotter, if the weights get too heavy just drop them on the floor.
- Always use a full range of motion, this means touching your chest on the bottom of the rep with the dumbbells and locking your elbows out at the top. Remember no half rep Harrys.
A Simple Incline Focused Chest & Triceps Workout
Incline Barbell Bench Press – 3 Sets Of 8 – 10 Reps
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 Sets Of 8 – 10 Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 Sets Of 8 – 10 Reps
Tricep Pushdown With A Rope – 3 Sets Of 8 – 10 Reps
Notes On The Workout
- Always perform at least 3 warm-up sets before performing your very first exercise. You don’t need to perform more than 3 sets of warm-ups. But if you have time you can also add another warm-up set using an empty barbell.
- Once you can get 10 reps for a given set put the weight up by 2.5kg or the next dumbbell. Here’s an example below:
Set 1 – 70kg x10 reps. Set 2 – 72.5kg x 8 reps. Set 3 – 72.5kg x 8 reps.
- Always start light. If you’re not used to bench pressing then you definitely want to start light to learn proper form.
- As long as you can hit the end of your rep range, control the weight and use a full range of motion, you can add weight for your next set.
A Simple Warm Up Routine
First warm-up set – 50% of your heavy working sets for 12 reps.
Second warm-up set – 70% of your heavy working sets for 4 reps.
Third warm-up set – 90% of your heavy working sets for 2 reps.
Here’s an example:
If you normally Bench Press 100kg for your working sets for 8-10 reps here’s what the warm-up would look like:
First set – 50kg for 12 reps.
Second set – 70kg for 4 reps.
Third set – 90kg for 2 reps.
Then perform your working sets.
The Bottom Line On The Incline Bench Press
- The incline bench press is without a doubt, one of the best exercises for chest development.
- Include both variations in your training to make your training interesting. It’s also worth noting that any incline chest machine/ smith machine will give similar benefits.
- Try the chest workout. As long as you get stronger at these fundamental exercises you’ll reap results.
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