Incline barbell bench press has been my secret weapon this offeason to build a bigger chest. I’ve always had a thick chest from my powerlifting background, but it wasn’t very full nor shapely. Incline barbell works my chest and front delts like no other—my prep coach puts it the best and calls it “the shelf”—getting a big enough upper chest so you can set something on top of it. This movement will give you that pec fullness and thickness that everyone is on the lookout for. Now, you might have heard that you do incline for upper, flat for middle, and declined for lower, but when it comes down to it, your pectoralis major and minor (your chest muscles) share all the same insertion point—so when you change the angle of your pressing, you’re just changing the different recruitment muscles you’re pressing from. But I’ll digress from the anatomy of it all and talk more about the movement itself— Things to keep in mind when you’re working the incline into your chest training:
- Make sure your incline isn’t too high—this is a common mistake. If your incline is too high, you’re taking more chest out of it and putting more on your shoulder. Scale it back a notch or two from what you’re used to: it’s roughly a 30-45 degree incline for optimal results.
- Good technique is important; just like your flat bench, your feet should stay on the floor and your rear delts should stay on the inclined bench.
- Don’t be afraid to lower the weight—Most people aren’t as strong on incline when compared to the flat bench. This is 100% ok. Don’t let it mess with your mindset. Heavy is relative; just focus on the movement.