Spend a short time in any gym and you're bound to see at least one gym member performing a set of incline bench presses. This common variation of the traditional bench press requires the use of an incline bench rather than a flat bench. The exercise involves several muscles but targets just one.
Incline Bench Press Preparation
To perform an incline bench press, you can use a weight machine, a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. The weight, sets and reps you use depend on such factors as your strength and experience with weight training. Lie on your back on the incline bench and grab the handles of the weight machine. If using a barbell, grab it with a wide grip while it's sitting on the rack. If you are using a pair of dumbbells, hold them at chest level.
Incline Bench Press Execution
Lift the weight by extending your arms and pushing the weight machine's handles, the barbell or the dumbbells away from your chest. Bend your arms to bring the weight back toward your chest to complete one rep and then continue the exercise until you meet your desired number of reps. If you're new to weight training, try a simple workout of three sets of 10 reps and increase the weight, sets and reps as needed.
The target muscle of the incline bench press exercise is the clavicular head of your pectoralis major muscles, which are commonly known as your pecs or chest muscles. Your pecs are composed of the clavicular and sternal heads; the latter is larger while the former is closer to your shoulders. Execution of the exercise requires the assistance of your deltoids and triceps, while your biceps act as a dynamic stabilizer, which means they don't noticeably change in length.
The incline bench press exercise is an effective way to build your pecs, but because it can often involve a significant amount of weight, it's not without its risks. Always stretch before weight training; use dynamic stretches to put your muscles through their full range of motion while increasing your core temperature. Recruit a workout partner or another gym member to spot you during the exercise and as a matter of proper gym etiquette, wipe down the bench and machine or free weights upon finishing the exercise.