How to Incline Bench Press Correctly and Safely

 
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INTRODUCTION: INCLINE BENCH PRESS VS BENCH PRESS

Who doesn’t enjoy performing the bench press? It is probably the most popular exercise in gyms across the world. Unfortunately, excessive use of the traditional barbell Bench Press can lead to repetitive use injury, especially in the shoulder and elbows. That’s why it’s important to perform different variations of these key movements. The Incline Bench Press allows you to change the angle of the exercise to target the same muscle groups in a different way. 

 The Incline Bench combines the Traditional Bench Press and the Overhead Press. It strengthens the upper and mid chest more than the flat Press and requires more activation of your shoulders. Because of the angle, you are less likely to injure your anterior shoulders when performing this exercise. It is a good idea to include both exercises in your program, or at least include the Incline Bench in your rotation of exercises.

INCLINE BENCH PRESS FORM VIDEO

 

BENEFITS OF THE INCLINE BENCH PRESS

  • Strengthens the upper and mid chest muscles more than the traditional bench press

  • Provides a new variation to the bench press, allowing you to continue strengthening the press pattern while decreasing the risk of overuse injuries

  • Teaches how to maintain a stable shoulder position for everyday movements

 

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE INCLINE BENCH PRESS

  • Upper and Mid Chest

  • Anterior Deltoids

  • Triceps

  • Fore-arms

  • Glutes

 

WHAT'S THE BEST ANGLE FOR THE INCLINE BENCH PRESS?

The lower the Incline, the more the movement resembles the traditional Bench Press, while the higher the Incline, the more it resembles an Overhead Press. 

High inclines will train the shoulders and upper pec muscles more, making the movement more difficult.

A good place to start is roughly at the halfway mark between the two exercises or 30-45 degrees. 

 

PERFORMING THE INCLINE BENCH PRESS WITH PROPER TECHNIQUE

  • Approach an Incline bench press rack that has a barbell set at a comfortable rack height

  • The Incline should be set at 30-45 degrees 

  • Retract and squeeze your scapulae together when laying on the bench. Maintain this retracted position throughout the entire lift. This is where most people perform the movement incorrectly.

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  • Set your grip at a distance that is wider than shoulder width. Keep your pinky fingers within the rings marked on the barbell 

  • Always wrap your thumbs completely around the bar

  • Place your feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees, and point your feet straight or angled out up to 45-degrees

  • Un-rack the bar and bring the bar directly out over your clavicles

 
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  • Begin lowering the bar by TUCKING your elbows at a 45-degree angle. DO NOT flare them out.

  • Touch the bar to your upper chest just below the clavicles and pause for a fraction of a second

 
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  • Reverse the movement by simultaneously contracting your glutes (without elevating your butt off the bench) driving your feet into the ground, and pressing the weight up and slightly back towards your face

  • Continue to press until your elbows have locked out and the bar is back in the starting position

  • Ensure that your scapulae remain retracted the entire time

  • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions

 

SUMMARY OF THE INCLINE BENCH PRESS TECHNIQUE 

 

Click on each blue circle to view the key technical aspects of this exercise

 

COMMON MISTAKES

BENCHING WITH A FLAT BACK

  • This is simply a technical issue

  • Begin by retracting your scapula while setting up and maintain this position

  • Not performing this crucial step puts your shoulders in an unstable position

FLARING THE ELBOWS ON THE DESCENT

  • This is also a technical issue

  • Tuck your elbows to about a 45-degree angle while descending

  • Flaring your elbows places a lot of stress on your pectoralis tendon and shoulder capsule

 
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NOT PERFORMING A FULL RANGE OF MOTION

  • People often perform half-reps because they mistakenly believe that a complete range of motion is bad for the shoulders

  • If you maintain your scapulae retracted, your shoulders are in a stable un-compromised position

 

INTEGRATING THIS EXERCISE INTO YOUR ROUTINE

Want to know how to use this exercise in your workout? Check out The Best Workout Template For Busy Individuals to learn how to integrate it into your training!

 

INCLINE BENCH PRESS ALTERNATIVES

 

Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here