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Mastering The Incline Bench: Volume 1

Of all the upper body exercises there is really nothing more powerful and nothing more of a clear indicator of true upper body strength than the incline bench press.

To be honest, it's one of those exercises that can also really humble some people. Since the angle of the bench is not to as much of an advantage for strength as a flat press, you will not be able to do nearly as much weight - but the strength returns are far greater.

Let's be honest, if you see a guy put up 2 plates on incline press you know that they are strong.

The incline press really is one of the great exercises for developing a strong chest, shoulders and arms. In this guide, we are going to break down how you can master the incline bench press.

Getting Started - Prehab Exercises

Before you even get under the bar you should make sure that your entire system is warm, mobile and ready to roll - this is basic stuff, guys. Here's how you can get your body ready for incline bench.

Eccentric DB Work

I really like to flush blood into the muscle before I start to do mobility - but this also comes down to a personal preference. Try incline, eccentric DB presses - neutral grip if you can.

This sounds complicated, but it's just a fancy way of saying lower the weights instead of press the weights - but do it slowly. This slow movement will help to get all your muscles riding at the right time and ensure your body is ready.

Try starting at a moderate weight - something you could easily do 8 reps for, but really lower slowly for three sets of 6.


Shoulder dislocations are your bread and butter for any upper body exercises. You can use a band or a bar - either way the goal is to work into your range of motion. There is no need to push yourself and injure your shoulder. Try to keep your time under 2 minutes to have the arms warm but not worn out.

Picking a Grip

Now that you’re warm, mobile and ready to roll it's time to pick a grip and get into the exercise. I would suggest for most people to feel a comfortable position, but if you want a specific measure, try 2 inches inside the first notch - this is generally the best position for strength and power for most people.

Try not to go too wide on the incline press as this could enter you into some form of injury territory. Generally, the closer you can get on a press the more you will recruit the arms instead of the shoulders - which is never really bad thing anyways (you just might not be able to do as much weight).

Work Into Working Sets

We’ve talked a little about working sets - but on an incline bench, it is even more important. Before you start packing on the weight make sure you progressively put weight on the muscles and really lock-in the movement. If the bar isn't touching your chest, you’re not doing a rep.

As a general rule, I like to start at 50% of my max for the day. If you’re working up to a 6x3 @185, keep the reps the same and alter the weight to around 100 pounds. Complete 6 reps nice and slow and add on 20-30% until you reach your target weight - not you’re into your working sets and the real fun starts.

Stay Tuned for Volume 2, where we get into the real nitty-gritty of programming and overload for the incline bench.

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