How To Do Incline Bench Press

Bench pressing is one of the most popular upper body workouts in weightlifting. It is also very versatile, as it has many variations and works three muscle groups. These variations also focus on different muscles so you know exactly what muscles you want to train.

The incline bench press is one of the favored variations of bench press and can be very helpful in building muscle in the upper body. Bench pressing works three major muscle groups, the chest, arms, and shoulders.

How To Do Incline Bench Press

Although in the arms and shoulders, bench pressing will only work certain muscles. In this article, we’ll explore how these muscles work while you are doing an incline bench press.

How To Do An Incline Bench Press

To do an incline bench press you first have to set up your bench at an angle of around 30 - 45 degrees. Lie back on the bench and make sure that your spine is neutral and your back is flat.

Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the bar, your hands should be facing forward with your thumb wrapped around the handle. It is important to have your feet planted firmly on the ground.

When you are in this position, slowly lift the bar upwards, keeping your spine neutral at all times. The bar should reach slightly above your eye-line and your elbows should fully extend.

Once you have reached this extension, slowly bring the bar back down until it touches your chest, keeping your elbows out to the side. Then repeat this process for the number of reps you feel comfortable with the weight.

When doing an incline bench press for the first time, we recommended that you only use the bar and not add any weight, as it is more important to get the form right than it is to lift as heavy as you can. It has been proven that form adds more to muscle growth than weight.

How To Do A Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

The dumbbell incline bench press is the only variation of the incline bench press; instead of a singular bar, you use two dumbbells of the same weight in each hand.

As with the traditional incline bench press, your bench should be at 30 - 45 degrees, the steps to do the dumbbell incline bench press are largely the same. Hold the dumbbells to your chest with your palm facing forward, lift them slowly until your elbows are extended then lower them slowly back to your chest.

Using dumbbells instead of a bar means that you have more control over each side of your body when working an incline bench press. You can even work one side at a time to focus on your form and help you identify a weaker side of your body.

Dumbbell incline bench press also reduces the risk of a shoulder injury.

What Muscles Does A Bench Press Work?

There are three main muscle groups that a bench press works, the chest, arms, and shoulders. However, the bench press only works certain muscles in the arms and shoulders, here’s a quick rundown on what muscles the bench press works.

What Muscles Does A Bench Press Work


The chest is the focus of the bench press. The chest is made out of one large muscle named pectoralis major, but you probably know it better as the ‘pec’ or ‘pectoral’.

The pectoral muscle is split into two different heads, the sternocostal head, which is the lower of the two heads and connects your ribcage to your upper arm, and the clavicular head, which sits above the sternocostal and attaches your upper arm to your collarbone.


Your arms are made up of three muscle groups, the biceps, triceps, and forearms. The biceps are split into two different heads, the biceps brachii, and the biceps brachialis, and sit on the front of your upper arm between your shoulder and forearm.

The triceps are located on the back of your upper arm, and the forearm is the muscle on your lower arm. Bench pressing only really works the triceps and sometimes the forearms, as the triceps are used to push your forearms away from your upper arms.


Your shoulders are composed of three muscles called deltoids or ‘delts’. There’s the anterior deltoid that is located on the front of the body between your pec and upper arm, the posterior deltoid that is found on the back of the body between your lat and upper arm, and the lateral deltoid that is found on the top of your shoulders between your pec and trap.

The anterior deltoid is the only shoulder muscle used in bench pressing as it helps bring your arms out and forward, acting as a connection between your triceps and pecs.

What Muscles Does An Incline Bench Press Work?

The incline bench press works largely the same muscles as the traditional bench press but focuses more on the upper part of the chest due to the angle that you are lifting the bar or dumbbells.

The effect on the triceps will remain largely the same as the triceps will still be working hard to lift your forearms away from your upper arm.

When working an incline bench press, the anterior deltoid in the shoulder gets more focus than a traditional bench press as the bar is being pushed up and the shoulders are being used more.

The traditional bench press also focuses a lot on the sternocostal head of the pec as it is the larger pec and therefore can do the most work. When the bench press is inclined, however, the work shifts to the clavicular head of the pec as it is above the sternocostal.

Final Thoughts

The bench press is a fantastic upper body workout that focuses on three different muscle groups, the incline bench press will focus on the same muscle groups but with extra work being put into the clavicular head of the pec and the anterior deltoid of the shoulder.

If you would like to focus on the upper muscles of the upper body, then the incline bench press is perfect for you.

Kevin Harris