How to Increase an Incline Bench Press

two young men with barbell flexing muscles in gym

While the normal bench press focuses on the sternal pectoralis major, or the lower pecs, the incline bench press works primarily the clavicular pectoralis major, or the upper pecs. Many weightlifters reach a plateau in certain exercises and cannot seem to lift additional weight. However, by strengthening antagonist muscles, using proper form, eating a proper diet and using some other techniques, you can get out of that plateau and increase the amount of weight that you lift with the incline bench press.

Strengthen your back. Back muscles, which are the antagonist muscles in the bench press, help support your lifts. Perform the barbell shrug, barbell pullover and bent over row to increase your back strength.

Reduce the number of repetitions. If you can perform 12 to 15 repetitions with the weight that you currently lift, increase the amount of weight by five to 10 pounds and perform 2 to 5 repetitions. This will increase your strength rather than your endurance.

Take a week off. By trying to increase your strength, you may have exhausted your upper chest. Let your chest muscles relax from the incline bench press for one week and perform pushups in their place.

Train yourself to lift faster. The faster you move, the more weight you will be able to lift.

Eat a healthy diet. Focus on eating plenty of lean protein, such as grilled fish, chicken and eggs, to encourage muscle growth.

Lift using the proper form. Set the bench to a 30- or 40-degree angle. Put your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the barbell so they are wider than shoulder-width apart, and keep your palms toward the ceiling. Take the barbell off the rack and lower it to the top of your chest. Do not lock your elbows. Lift the bar twice as fast as you lower it.

Perform other exercises that strengthen the upper chest. Complete the decline pushup. Get into a pushup position with the tops of your feet on top of a bench. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Straighten your arms. Bend your elbows and lower yourself to the floor. Straighten your arms and lift yourself back up. Repeat 15 times. Also try the dumbbell incline fly and the pike pushup.


Warm up before doing the incline bench press by walking or jogging for 10 minutes, and perform dynamic stretches.

Cool down after the incline bench press by walking or jogging for 10 minutes, and perform static stretches.


Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.