Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Shoulders, Triceps
Target Muscle Group


Chest Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Incline Bench Press Overview

The incline bench press is a variation of the bench press and an exercise used to build the muscles of the chest. The shoulders and triceps will be indirectly involved as well.

Utilizing an incline will allow you to better target the upper portion of the chest, a lagging part for a lot of lifters.

You can include incline bench press in your chest workouts, upper body workouts, push workouts, and full body workouts.

Incline Bench Press Instructions

  1. Lie flat on an incline bench and set your hands just outside of shoulder width.
  2. Set your shoulder blades by pinching them together and driving them into the bench.
  3. Take a deep breath and allow your spotter to help you with the lift off in order to maintain tightness through your upper back.
  4. Let the weight settle and ensure your upper back remains tight after lift off.
  5. Inhale and allow the bar to descend slowly by unlocking the elbows.
  6. Lower the bar in a straight line to the base of the sternum (breastbone) and touch the chest.
  7. Push the bar back up in a straight line by pressing yourself into the bench, driving your feet into the floor for leg drive, and extending the elbows.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Incline Bench Press Tips

  1. Technique first, weight second - no one cares how much you bench if you get injured.
  2. Keep the bar in line with your wrist and elbows and ensure it travels in a straight line. In order to keep the wrist straight, try to position the bar as low in the palm as possible while still being able to wrap the thumb.
  3. If you want to keep more tension through the triceps and chest, stop each repetition just short of lockout at the top.
  4. Don’t worry about tucking the elbows excessively, much of this advice is from geared lifters using suits. A slight tuck on the way down may be advisable for some lifters but other lifters can use an excellent cue from Greg Nuckols that will accomplish the same thing: “Flare and push”.
  5. Arching may be advisable depending upon your goals but ensure that most of the arch comes from the mid to upper back and not your lower back. If your lower back is cramping as you set up for the lift, you’re out of position and putting yourself at risk for potential injury.
  6. The bar should touch your chest with every single repetition. If you want to overload specific ranges of motion, look into board presses or accommodating resistance with chains or bands.
  7. As the bar descends, aim for your sternum (breastbone) or slightly below depending upon the length of your upper arm in order to promote a linear bar path.
  8. Intermediate and advanced lifters may use a thumbless or “suicide” grip but for the majority of lifters, it would be wiser to learn how to bench with the thumb wrapped around the bar at first.
  9. Fight the urge to allow the wrists to roll back into extension, think about rolling your knuckles toward the ceiling.
  10. Experiment with grip width - if your have longer arms you may need to use a slightly wider grip. However, if you’re feeling pressure in the front of the shoulder during the exercise, you may need to widen your grip, improve scapular retraction, or slightly lessen the range of motion via exercises such as floor or board presses.
  11. Squeeze the bar as tightly as possible to help enhance shoulder stability.
  12. Ensure the shoulder blades remain retracted and don’t allow them to change position as you press.
  13. The bar should descend under control and touch the lifter’s chest - no bouncing or excess momentum.
  14. Think about trying to push yourself away from the bar instead of pushing the bar off of you.
  15. Tightness through the upper back should be one of your main priorities throughout the course of the lift.
  16. Ideally, use a spotter to help assist with the lift off in order to maintain tension through the upper back.
  17. Keep the feet quiet throughout the lift and utilize leg drive by pushing your feet into the floor and squeezing your glutes to stabilize the pelvis.
  18. Focus on pulling the bar apart or trying to “bend the bar” in order to activate some of the intrinsic stabilizers in the shoulder.
  19. The glutes and shoulder blades should maintain contact with the bench throughout the entirety of the movement.
Posted on: Tue, 09/13/2022 - 15:18

Following your 5 Day At Home Muscle Building Workout i swapped banded chest flies on chest day with dumbbell flies , now I’m thinking if doing incline chest flies on that day be alright to target all three chest groups or should I stick to flat flies?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 16:03

Use both so you can reap the benefits of both angles, Pav.

Posted on: Tue, 11/06/2018 - 00:48

The narration says "touch the bar to the sternum" (like for a banch press). But in the demonstration the bar does not go that low. Which is 'correct'?

Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2017 - 16:15

About 8 months ago I was doing a running program at the gym, which included a mix of cardio and light weights, for at least 3 times a week. I was more fit and healthier then. Now, because I stopped going to the gym and eating less healthier I gained weight and now have lumbar and shoulder pain. I'm 32 years old and weigh 73 kgs (160 lbs). I went to a physical therapist and got an x-ray of my back, she said there was no problem but that I shouldn't run anymore or do any lifting. I want to start this program to lose weight and be healthier again. I'm good at doing cardio but I don't think I could do the bench press because of my back and shoulder pain. I also know that I need to lift weights to strenghten my muscles but I don't know which to do. Can you please suggest what lifts I can do for upper A until my back pain goes away? Thank you!

Dr b v s babu
Posted on: Sun, 07/02/2017 - 13:47

I started the exercise, it's good advice I need more work out video, I am pure vegetarian habitual thank you regards

Beatrice Rhodes
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2018 - 14:55

Hi Mary,
I know what you are talking about!
I put on 4 kg over the Christmas holidays, and I am a qualified Personal Trainer so I should know better, right?
As a qualified PT/ Fitness Instructor one of the things we get drummed in at the course, is that- once in doubt- or if someone like you- asks about pain- and its related to lower back- the best thing is to REFER to the correct person- who you have seen already= The physical therapist.- If you want to do anything I would recommend strengthen your core and keep your cardio as it is. If you do the cardio first and then the core- could be 5-10 minutes that would strengthen your mid body- and by so your back pain should be reduced. Once the back pain is almost gone- then I would suggest you start with your weight training again. Not before. If you check out YOU Tube- Joe Wicks - the body coach- as he has got some great and easy to follow 5-10 minutes core exercise program which are great to do after your cardio. Try theses out and let us know how you are getting on. I am starting my hiit with weights and core tomorrow and my health eating as well! Good luck!
Xx Beatrice

Greg Totten
Posted on: Mon, 02/20/2017 - 09:28

What you guys are doing today

Greg Totten
Posted on: Mon, 02/20/2017 - 09:24

What wight can do for incline bench press

Posted on: Fri, 02/20/2015 - 15:35

Hey, when I do this workout I feel it more in my arms then my pecs. Am I doing right?

Posted on: Thu, 03/16/2023 - 11:09

U need to drop ur shoulder and try with no weights first till u feel its ok with the weight

Innocent Ali
Posted on: Thu, 07/03/2014 - 12:57

How can I download these videos ??

Tom L.
Posted on: Sun, 05/25/2014 - 13:57

The best way I've found to determine the amount of weight is to set aside one gym visit to just determining weight. Start very low, around 20 - 40 lbs, and do 6 reps. Then move up 20 or 30 lbs (so 50 - 70lbs) and take a 30 second break, and then do 6 reps. Keep moving up about 20lbs each time with a 30 second break, until you're not able to do 6 smooth, steady reps. Use the weight just below this for you exercise.

you can do this for 4 different exercises, where each uses a different set of muscles. You should have a decent idea of what weight you can lift. Then, after about every 12 workouts, do this again to re-evaluate and know what weight to move up to.

Koushik Reddy
Posted on: Sat, 12/28/2013 - 22:52

I used to be lean but I have gained few pounds from 2-3 months. My chest s flat and pretty small biceps. I recently started exercise. What weight should I lift and how many sets and repetitions should I do. * tell me approx weight plz*

I'm 68 kgs with 6 feet.

Posted on: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 10:58

Whatever weight you can handle for around 10 reps, dumbass.

Posted on: Fri, 03/28/2014 - 23:01

hey dumbass!!! not everyone is as smart as you, i guess huh?

Posted on: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 19:38

how much wiegth should i put if my weigth is 140 pound....

Posted on: Tue, 08/13/2013 - 03:46

I just started working out and need to know how much pounds I should lift if i weigh about 140-148 pounds on the Incline Bench Press.

Posted on: Sun, 09/29/2013 - 14:29

It really depends on your natural strength the best thing to do is go with somebody who already goes and that can lift some weight then see what weight you can lift only just feeling the burn at 12 reps then use this as your guide until you build up your strength

Posted on: Wed, 11/11/2015 - 10:24

I weigh 140 and I start at 95-115lbs and go up to usually 185-200lbs for reps around 3-8 on incline bench

Posted on: Wed, 11/11/2015 - 10:24

I weigh 140 and I start at 95-115lbs and go up to usually 185-200lbs for reps around 3-8 on incline bench

Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2013 - 04:37

how to start exercise,wid flat bench or incline bench...?

Posted on: Mon, 12/26/2016 - 15:22

Start at incline and work your way to flat and the decline

Posted on: Mon, 03/25/2013 - 15:48

Hi AK if you feel you are getting more shoulder work then yes bring the grip in but it should be a little wider on your shoulders. Normally if you using a standard barbell then where you shoud grip is normally marked on the barbell by a flat smooth ring going around the bar on boths sides of it

Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2013 - 06:21

Hello, Im just wondering if I should use a narrower grip for this exercise as i feel i am working my shoulders more than my chest with a wider than shoulder grip. Thank you

Posted on: Sat, 01/12/2013 - 19:57

Great site. Thanks. I am starting beginners routine this week coming up and looking forward to it. This is the best I have seen. I have a question though. I started going to the gym because of cholesterol and to get in shape. I am trying to lose weight but I enjoy the weightlifting. How does wight lifting effect weight loss? I also do the elliptical for 30 min. before I start. What do you think?

Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2013 - 02:02

Weight lifting is a great way to lose weight. If you can keep your heart rate elevated throughout your routine you're getting a great cardiovascular workout as well. Weight lifting also boosts your metabolism in to turbo drive during your workout and as much as a 48hrs after. So even when you're sleeping, working or relaxing your body is still burning calories. Also doing the weight lifting before your cardio will maximize your efforts on the elliptical.

Posted on: Tue, 03/26/2013 - 02:03

Weight lifting is a great way to lose weight. If you can keep your heart rate elevated throughout your routine you're getting a great cardiovascular workout as well. Weight lifting also boosts your metabolism in to turbo drive during your workout and as much as a 48hrs after. So even when you're sleeping, working or relaxing your body is still burning calories. Also doing the weight lifting before your cardio will maximize your efforts on the elliptical.

Posted on: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 06:18

What weight would you recommend doing it on as I'm looking at toning I'm a 25 year old feamale sorry new to this

Posted on: Wed, 09/05/2012 - 05:17

pick a weight that you can do between 12-20 reps
example: 4 sets
set1: 20reps
set2: 15reps
set3: 15reps
set4: 12reps...you should feel a burn after each set and if you dont add more weight

Clifford Harding
Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 00:19

Yea bra definitely.

Posted on: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 01:57

hey im fairly new to all this, just wondering. could i use dumbbells instead of a bar bell? as i do this on my own its gonna be hard to get the bar back on the holder by the end of the excerise on my own.

Posted on: Fri, 01/11/2013 - 09:30

i was just thinking that same thing, it'd be better to use dumbbels first then the weights for this exercies so that way you won't hurt yourself. Use 5 pound dumbbells first then start getting into lifting heavier things