Incline barbell bench press exercise

Incline barbell bench press

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Clavicular (Upper) Pectoralis Major
  • Synergists: Anterior Deltoid, Triceps Brachii
  • Dynamic stabilizer: Biceps Brachii (Short Head only)
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Starting position

  1. Lie supine (on your back) on a bench inclined at 45 degrees.
  2. Spread your legs, bring your feet back, and place them firmly on the ground.
  3. Arch your back.
  4. Dismount the barbell using a wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
  5. Retract (push together) your shoulder blades and straighten your wrists.


  1. Inhale as you lower the barbell to your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in.
  2. Exhale as you press the barbell back up to the starting position.
  3. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Planting your feet firmly on the floor, arching your back, retracting your shoulder blades, tucking in your elbows, and straightening your wrists allow you to produce a strong foundation from which to press and get your whole body behind the lift.
  • Tucking in your elbows also reduces the pressure on your shoulders, which are prone to injury with this and other pressing exercises.
  • An angle of 45 degrees is recommended because, when compared with other angles (0, 28, and 56), the clavicular head of the pectoralis major was found to be most active at 44 degrees, and 45 degrees is the closest setting.
  • Never use a false (aka thumbless or “suicide”) grip with the incline barbell bench press. Hold the bar deep in your palms and wrap your thumbs securely around the bar.
  • When lifting heavy weights, have a spotter ready for safety.
  • Don’t go as heavy as you would with the flat barbell bench press.
  • The incline barbell bench press is probably the most popular exercise for targeting your upper chest. However, the incline reverse-grip barbell bench press may be more effective.

Incline barbell bench press video


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