How to Incline Bench Press for Maximum Muscle Growth

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: January 7, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.

The incline bench press is a classic chest exercise that has been used by bodybuilders and general fitness enthusiasts alike to target specific muscle groups.

It is especially advantageous in developing the upper chest, but it also works the shoulders and triceps as well.

To do this exercise properly, be sure to follow certain technique guidelines for best results.

Start by pulling your shoulder blades back and down, holding the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, lowering it to your upper chest, and pressing the bar back up from there.

Utilizing proper form during this exercise will give you the most out of each rep while minimizing fatigue and risk of injury so that you can maximize your gains within a safe environment.

How to Incline Bench Press for Maximum Muscle Growth

Benefits of the Incline Barbell Bench Press

The incline bench press is a great exercise for fostering muscle growth and strength in the chest, triceps, and shoulders.

What sets this exercise apart from others is its ability to effectively target the clavicular head of the pectoralis major also referred to as “the upper chest”.

This muscle heads primary function is bringing the upper arm towards the sternum, which helps engage other parts of your shoulder girdle.

It’s important to note that the pectoralis major has multiple “heads”; each position where tendons attach to your skeleton requires specific training techniques such as with an incline bench press.

By including this exercise into your workout routine you are able to safely train these areas while helping achieve larger gains in strength and size.

Understanding how a muscle attaches to the skeleton allows us to recognize which muscles are being targeted during certain exercises, and therefore better customize training sessions to prevent lopsided development those can lead to injuries.

Take the incline bench press, for example. This exercise targets the upper chest by using gravitational forces at an angle that attacks that specific muscle group more than others making it especially effective for emphasizing this area.

Therefore, understanding how a muscle attaches to the skeleton is essential for achieving proportionate development as well as muscle growth in concentrated areas.

How to Incline Bench Press with Proper Form

An adjustable incline bench is a key piece of equipment needed to effectively target the chest muscles.

If your gym does not have a dedicated station for this type of exercise, an adjustable bench used in conjunction with a squat rack can easily do the trick.

Important to note is that the bar should be placed so that it is over the face and below where it would normally sit at when elbows are held out at a ninety degree angle.

This allows for an increased range of motion and puts you in the ideal position to perform press exercises with improved form and better technique.

Below is a step by step guide how to perform a incline bench press:

Step 1. Start by sitting on an inclined bench with the desired incline angle. An incline of 30 degrees is a good starting point for most people, but it may vary depending on your goals and preferences.

Step 2. Adjust the safety rails to a height that allows you to unrack the barbell without straining your back or shoulders. Make sure the rails are sturdy and secure before beginning the lift.

Step 3. Grip the barbell with your palms facing forward and your hands around shoulder width apart from each other. It’s important to keep your elbows tucked in tight throughout this exercise to prevent any unnecessary strain on your joints and muscles.

Step 4. Unrack the barbell by straightening your arms above your shoulders with control, ensuring not to lock out your elbows at this stage as you do not want any momentum during this exercise.

Step 5. Step back slowly until you feel comfortable and take a deep breath before initiating the movement by slowly lowering the bar towards your chest while exhaling through pursed lips (this will help ensure you can maintain control). 

Step 6. At this stage, focus on keeping your chest high, shoulder blades retracted and slightly pinched together, keeping tension in both arms at all times (this will minimise excessive stress put on one arm). 

Step 7. Once it reaches mid-chest level, pause for a moment then press the weight up explosively whilst exhaling through pursed lips until it reaches near lockout position again with control – make sure not to lock out at this stage either as this could cause injury if done incorrectly! 

Step 8. Repeat these steps for as many reps as required per set and always remember to lower the bar under control rather than dropping it (this will not only reduce any potential risk of injury but also increase muscular hypertrophy). 

Step 9. When finished with one set, re-adjust safety rails if needed so that they are still secured firmly before attempting another set or moving onto different exercises!

Muscles Worked by the Incline Barbell Bench Press

The incline bench press has been a popular movement in the gym for some time now. But people often don’t realize that it is not actually an isolation exercise.

Rather, it works primarily the chest while also engaging muscles in other parts of the upper body, such as shoulders and triceps.

Increasing size and strength in these muscles can have a positive impact on several other pressing movements like push-ups, front squats, and even deadlifts, making them easier to perform.

Pectorals (Chest)

Bench press movements are great for bulking up the chest muscles, but an incline press can be especially beneficial due to its raised angle.

This greater tilt provides more strain on the upper chest muscles, therefore giving them a stronger workout than if they were not angled at all.

While flat bench presses are a valuable exercise in strength training, users should not shy away from incline presses in their repertoire as they provide a unique way to target and emphasize certain areas of the chest.

Front (Anterior) Deltoids

The front deltoids are an essential muscle group involved in the bench press; they are even more actively engaged as you progress to the incline press.

The act of angling your body towards the vertical plane places more emphasis on activating and utilizing your upper chest and anterior deltoids the more upright your positioning during the press, the greater range of motion for the shoulders.

Therefore, understanding how to accurately target this area can help significantly increase activation in this region and help maximize workout efficacy.


The triceps are an important muscle group to target in any upper body workout. During a bench press exercise, they play an essential role in the top part of the motion by extending the elbow joint and providing stabilization.

Similarly, during an incline bench press these same muscles act as prime movers to extend the elbow, enabling us to lift more weight and increase strength overall.


The incline barbell bench press has become a popular exercise for those looking to improve their upper body strength and fitness.

However, many people have questions about the form, weight, and safety of performing this exercise. Fortunately, there are answers available.

Is it possible to use the incline bench press as my primary chest exercise?

When it comes to strength training, the flat bench press is often thought to be the only exercise that can be done for the chest. But this simply isn’t true!

Many other exercises help target and build your chest muscles. If you find that an incline bench press works best with your body type, gives you good results, and feels comfortable, then stick with it!

That being said, if you’re a competitive powerlifter, then the flat bench press is essential as it is one of the competition lifts judges look for.

Should I use the incline bench press to begin or end my chest exercise?

If you are looking to increase muscle mass and endurance, the incline bench press should be performed later in your workout.

This is because it hits the muscles from a different angle than flat pressing, which can help to fatigue your muscles further and increase muscle growth.

Additionally, if you are more focused on strength goals, consider leading your workout with the incline bench press; this will allow you to press heavier weights while limiting injury risk.

How can I improve my incline bench press technique?

When it comes to lifting, taking a gradual approach that incorporates progressive overload is key to achieving gradual, lasting results.

Properly utilizing the strategy of progressive overload will make the journey much easier; however, patience is required to see those positive changes.

Sticking to the plan and allowing yourself enough time for your body to adjust to each new fitness level will be essential in tracking progress in a healthy way. With consistent dedication and perseverance, your hard work will pay off in no time.


The incline bench press, when added to an upper body training program, is an effective exercise that can help a lifter build a bigger, broader chest and generate more power and overall strength in their pressing.

A lifter should progress with this movement in the same way that they would for heavier bench press options such as starting with a relatively lighter load than one could lift on the flat bench press.

However, the incline bench press allows them to perform presses at a slightly higher rep range compared to other exercises in order to maximize muscle growth.

This exercise is definitely an important move for any serious lifters looking for maximal gains in their upper body strength and development.

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