How To Do The Incline Barbell Bench Press: The Complete Guide

Adding mass to the clavicular or upper portion of the Chest is something a lot of people struggle with, largely because this portion of the chest has less number of muscle fibres as compared to the middle and lower chest. Hence, to have a bigger and stronger chest, you have to work your upper chest and the best exercise suited for this purpose is the Incline Barbell Bench Press.

The Incline Bench Press is a compound upper-body exercise, meaning that multiple joints and muscles contribute to the movement. As a variation of the traditional flat Bench Press, it’s considered one of the best exercises to build a stronger and larger upper body. The Incline Bench Press targets many of the same large upper-body muscles as the flat version. However, the angle of the press shifts the work to your upper chest and shoulders. Your shoulders continue to take on more of the work as the angle of the bench increases until the bench is vertical and it becomes a shoulder press.

The Incline Bench Press primarily works the clavicular head of the pectoralis major or the upper portion of your chest. It also works the anterior deltoid (front portion of the shoulder) and the triceps (backside of your arm). When performed correctly, it should be a full-body movement using the small muscles in your shoulders, large muscles in your back, your core and even your glutes.

Learning The Incline Barbell Bench Press

  1. Position your body on an incline bench on a 30-45 degree angle. Retract your shoulder blades, chest up, core braised and keep your legs firmly on the floor. This will be your starting position. Grab a barbell with an overhand grip that’s shoulder-width apart and hold it above your chest.
  2. Extend arms upward, locking out elbows. Lower the bar straight down in a slow, controlled movement to your chest. Pause, then press the bar in a straight line back up to the starting position.
  3. You will have to keep your chest up, scapula retracted, core braised, glutes tight and keep your legs firmly on the floor throughout the movement. Breath in when you lower the bar, breath out as you push it upwards.

Tips & Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Lowering The Bar Toward Your Stomach/Neck – Do not bring the bar to your stomach or your neck, what you want to do is bring the bar down to the upper chest and push it back upward in a slow controlled motion.
  2. Flaring Out Your Elbows – Keep your elbows tucked inwards, flaring them out is the last thing that you want to do. This leads to injuries in the long term. 
  3. Bouncing The Bar Off Your Chest – Do not bounce the bar off of the chest. Lower the bar with control.
  4. Hyper-extending Your Neck – Do not hyperextend the neck. Maintain a neutral long spine.
  5. Posture – Maintain the correct posture while performing the movement, as mentioned above.

This is everything that you need to know the next time you are going to perform the Incline Barbell Press. Make sure you completely understand the mechanics of the movement before performing it in the gym, initially I would recommend you perform new exercises with lighter weights so as to minimize the chances of injuries.


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