The bench press is the king of chest exercises, but if it’s the only one you ever do, you’re not going to be maximizing the improvements you can make to your chest strength. It’s important to vary the movements you make to work all of your chest muscles, and the good news is that you don’t have to vary them that much. Simply putting your bench at a different angle changes the benefits you get from squeezing your chest.
Like the flat bench press, the incline bench press mainly works the pecs and it works them hard. The triceps and shoulders are involved in the exercise, just like in the flat bench press.
However, on the incline press, which hits the top half of your chest more heavily, the emphasis is a little different. The higher the incline, the more work your shoulders do.
How to do the incline bench press
Set up your bench at an angle of about 30-45 °. Sit back and place your hands on the bar, palms up, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lift the bar off the rack and push it up until your arms are outstretched and your hands are over your shoulders. Slowly lower the bar onto your chest, then push it back up.
Make sure to shed the weight the first time you try the incline bench press compared to what you normally do on the bench.
Incline bench press variations
Dumbbell inclined bench press
Just like the flat bench press, swapping out the barbell for dumbbells means you can unilaterally work both sides of the body to identify and improve your weaker side. Using dumbbells can also help you avoid shoulder injuries.
Hold the dumbbells against your chest with your palms facing forward. Push them straight up until your arms are fully extended, pause, then lower them under control.