Incline Bench Press

Technique Summary

Lay on the incline bench-press bench, feet flat on the floor. Grip the bar between elbow length and shoulders. Lower the bar onto your chest, inhale, push out, exhale.

Exercise Type: Compound
Primary Muscle: Pectoralis Major (with emphasis on upper chest)
Secondary Muscle: Triceps Brachii, Anterior Deltoid, and Serratus Anterior

Technique Details

The incline bench press is the best and most commonly used compound exercise for your upper chest. First, let’s get the basics out of the way. Never lock out your elbows. This prevents tendonitis and keeps the pressure on your chest throughout the exercise. Also, never rest the bar on your chest, or let the bar come in contact with your chest. Way too many people bounce the weight off. Not only does that not help you develop your chest, but it is a pretty good way to hurt yourself. For all intents and purposes, you may as well be bouncing the weight off your head.


Depending on your body type, you could bring the bar down as close as an inch of your chest. If this is not comfortable, you can stop at the point where your upper arms are parallel to the floor. You should bring the bar down to your upper chest. We strongly advise you to hold the bar with your thumb around the bar opposite of the rest of the fingers. Many people perform the exercise with the thumb on the same side as the rest of the fingers. This almost guarantees injury at some point. You work hard, you sweat, the bar will slip out at some point.

The focus of the exercise will also vary with the width of your grip. A wider grip isolates the lateral part of your chest, and a shorter grip focuses on the central part. You do not want to take a very narrow grip because that turns the exercise into a tricep workout. Whatever the grip, it should always be wider than your shoulders.

A note for our female readers: contrary to popular folklore, this exercise will not prevent your chest from sagging. The muscle fibers are underneath your breasts and will not somehow pull them up.