Incline Bench Press

  • Alternative Names: Incline barbell bench press, incline press with flat bench, incline bench press medium grip
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 3-4 with 6-12 reps each
  • Variations: Dumbbell, close grip, reverse grip, machine, low, smith machine incline bench press
  • Alternative: Incline dumbbell press

The incline bench press is a free-weight chest press commonly used by those who want to work and develop their upper pecs. Because of the inclined angle, the exercise engages your shoulders more than the other bench press varieties. Since it actively works your deltoids at an inclined angle, you should avoid overtraining your muscles by not working on your shoulders the next day.

Incline Vs. Flat Vs. Decline Bench Press

The angle of the Bench

The incline bench press, as the name suggests, is performed by setting the bench to an angle of 15 to 30 degrees. The traditional flat bench press involves lying on your back with the bench parallel to the floor. On the other hand, the decline bench press is performed by lowering the bench to an angle of about 15-30 degrees.

Muscles Worked

The incline version allows you to work on the anterior deltoids and upper part of the pectoralis major (clavicular head) more than the flat bench variety. You can efficiently target parts of the lower pecs with the decline bench press.

Weight Used

The decline bench version allows you to lift more weight than either the flat or incline bench presses.


  • It gives maximal activation of your pecs at an angle of 30-45 degrees.
  • It puts less strain on your rotator cuff muscles, helping in preventing injury.

How to do Incline Bench Press

Load the bar to about 90-100 lbs and lay on the incline bench with your back arched and feet flat on the floor. Hold the bar with a medium-width, pronated grip and remove it from the rack. Press the barbell above your chest by extending your arms. Bring the barbell down to your sternum by bending your elbows. Once the bar slightly touches your elbow, extend your elbows to go back to the initial position.

Incline Bench Press

Incline Barbell Bench Press Tips

  • Make sure that you retract your shoulder blades and arch your back while bringing the barbell down to your chest.
  • Squeeze the bar tightly to improve your shoulder stability.
  • Use a spotter so that he can help you lift the bar off the rack and maintain tension through your upper back.
  • Your shoulder blades and glutes should make contact with the bench all through the movement.


  1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: Similar to the barbell version except that you perform it with a pair of dumbbells.
  2. Close Grip Incline Bench Press: Performed by holding the bar with a shoulder-width grip or a slightly narrower grip.
  3. Reverse Grip Incline Bench Press: Involves holding the barbell with an underhand grip so that the palms are facing towards you.
  4. Incline Bench Press with Machine: Performed by lying back on the incline bench press machine.
  5. Low Incline Barbell Bench Press: Involves lying on a bench set at a low incline of about 15 degrees and then performing the traditional bench press.
  6. Smith Machine Incline Bench Press: Similar to the basic version except that you lay back on the incline bench placed below the smith machine.

Alternative Exercise

Incline Dumbbell Press

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