Everything You Need to Know About the Barbell Incline Bench Press

You probably know what a regular bench press is, otherwise known as a barbell bench press.

However, there are few bench press variations, including both the incline and the decline bench press.

Today, we want to take a closer look at what the barbell incline bench press is, what muscles it works out, how to do it, and more.


What Is A Barbell Incline Bench Press?

What Is A Barbell Incline Bench Press?


A barbell incline bench press involves sitting on a bench in an incline position, which means that you raise the back portion up to around a 30° to 45° angle, up to 60° at the most.

Remember, the more upright you are sitting, the more you work out your shoulders, and the lower down you sit towards a horizontal lying position, the more you'll engage your chest. 

Just like a regular bench press, here you hold a barbell with weight plates on either side, and you press it upwards from your chest until your arms are nearly fully extended.


What Muscles Does the Barbell Incline Bench Press Work?

Just like a regular bench press, the incline barbell bench press also works out your pectoral muscles. This is of course the main point of doing any type of bench press, working out that chest.

However, the fact that you have the bench incline instead of totally horizontal means that you change the focus of the exercise.

With a regular bench press when you are laying down, the main focus is on your pectoral muscles and triceps, as well as your deltoids to a certain degree.

However, as soon as you start inclining the bench, you start shifting the focus towards your upper chest and your deltoid muscles, or in other words your shoulders.

The clavicular head of your pectoralis major muscle is one of the main ones that gets worked out by the barbell incline bench press.


How to Do the Barbell Incline Bench Press: Step-by-Step

What’s the Proper Incline Angle for a Barbell Incline Bench Press?

As we mentioned above, the angle at which you have the backrest set to enlarge determines exactly what parts of your chest and shoulders are worked out by the barbell incline bench press.

At the very least, set the bench to a 30° angle. This will still keep the majority of the focus on your chest and triceps.

You can also choose to set the bench at a 45° angle, which places more of a focus on your upper chest and your deltoids. 

You may also use a 60° angle, which will put most of the focus on your upper chest and deltoids, while mostly removing your lower chest from the equation.

Remember, the steeper the angle you have the bench set to, the greater the focus on your shoulders will be.


How to Do the Barbell Incline Bench Press: Step-by-Step

Now that we know what the barbell incline bench press is all about, let's go through a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to do it.

  1. First, you'll need to head over to an incline bench press rack or use a power rack and a bench. Now is the time to position the backrest as you see fit, choosing the angle based on the information we provided you with above.
  2. You should position your body so that your eyes are in line with the barbell, or just slightly behind it.
  3. Grab the barbell and hold it so that your hands are placed just a little bit wider than your shoulders. And plant your feet firmly under yourself so you have a stable base.
  4. Before you unrack the barbell, make sure to puff your chest out and pull your shoulder blades back and into the bench. By doing this, you'll create a very slight arch in the lower back, which is ideal for protecting your shoulders.
  5. Just before you unrack the barbell, take a very deep breath and then lift the barbell straight up above your chest.
  6. Start doing the reps by lowering the barbell down to your mid chest, while ensuring that your elbows remain tucked to your sides. Don't let your elbows flare out to the sides, as this can be dangerous and doesn't work out the right muscles. Imagine, your elbows at about a 45 degree angle from your body.
  7. If you want to add a certain degree of difficulty to the mix, do a quick pause at the bottom of the motion before pressing the barbell back up. Also, make sure that you don't actually touch your chest with the barbell, as this will help to keep constant tension on your chest and shoulders.
  8. Using your chest, triceps, and even your feet to a certain degree, push the barbell back up to the starting position.
  9. Aim to do anywhere between 8 and 12 repetitions, for up to three or four sets.


The Bottom Line on the Barbell Incline Bench Press

Barbell Incline Bench Press

If you want to work out your upper portion of the pectoralis major muscle, as well as your anterior deltoids, then the barbell incline bench press is a fantastic exercise to do. Just make sure that you maintain proper form and that you don't start too heavy.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.