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Incline Bench

Hi all - just wondering if anyone had some ideas regarding improving my incline bench press. My flat bench has been steadily improving, but my incline bench just seems to have stagnated for the last 3 months at a very low weight.

I think it might be technique related because I can pretty much only feel the exercise in my triceps, and not really in my chest/shoulders. I’ve tried changing the height of the seat both up and down, but to no avail. Alternatively it might just be weak front deltoids (given my military press has also not improved in a long time).

I was thinking it might be a good idea to work with half ROM, just moving the bar between my clavicle and my chin.

My stats:

Height: 6’2" (186cm)
Weight: 205lbs (93kg)

Incline bench press: 1RM: 187lbs (85kg), 3RM 176lbs (80kg)

I generally can’t seem to get past 6 reps at 154lbs (70kg), and like I said my triceps are on fire at the end of this.

For comparison:
Flat bench press: 1RM 264lbs (120kg), 3RM 242lbs (110kg)
Military press: 3RM 165lbs (75kg)
Dips: 8RM 88lbs (40kg) attached.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


If your triceps are getting a pump (a sick pump) your form may need tweaking. Try playing with ur elbow position and hand grip (distance between them). Also, when trying to go for a new PR with Incline, are you doing it first or after flat?

What has worked for me (I really don’t care how much I lift really) was heavier shoulder presses. Namely working on shoulder strength.

agreed, i’d try out a wider grip on incline

Grip width for sure. If you’re 6’2’’ you should have your pinkies on the rings of the bar.

EDIT: Forefingers is what I meant…

Sorry, I meant to mention that my grip is as wide as the pins will allow (which is pretty much forefinger on the rings, though slightly narrower).

I tend to mix up the order of incline and flat bench, it doesn’t seem to make a difference to my incline bench (though it certainly does with my flat bench).

Any thoughts on the partial ROM?

do your incline 1st

eat more, and get a lot better at military press

maybe try switchin to dumbells for a while if you havnt already… I had the same problem with incline… my flat bench press was goin up pretty fast but I couldnt get my incline up for crap… so i switched to incline dumbells and gained some strength there and went back to barbell and could lift more…

[quote]Standard Donkey wrote:
eat more, and get a lot better at military press[/quote]

X2 on both accounts.

Try the PL technique of bench pressing (feet inwards from your knees, arched back.) Also, try not locking out. It will put more emphasis on your chest while doing them.

I would stop doing incline press for a little while working the muscles around the shoulder and arms: delts (front raise, lateral raise, bent over lateral raise), triceps (skull crusher and press), some incline power fly and then few weeks later, negative work on incline press on smith machine.

I had similar problem with flat bench press where I hit the wall at around 180 lbs (4X10 reps), I have stopped doing it for 6 months, I did other exercices and then got back on bench on a bulgarian system where I start the first week with 3 sets of 5 -7 reps, the second week at 3 sets of 8-10 reps and third week at 3 sets of 10-12 reps using week after week the same weight.

Now I can bench 3 sets of 12 reps with 265 lbs.

Good luck!

So your idea to get better at an exercise is stop doing it for 6 months?



[quote]G87 wrote:
So your idea to get better at an exercise is stop doing it for 6 months?



Thanks for the sarcasm, I don’t mind, no offence, it worked for me, If you can read correctly I have not stopped working out for 6 months, I have done different exercices to give strength to the sevral muscles that composed the shoulder. the results are there.

Anyway, I am not the type of guy that focuses only on doing bench press, I consider myself as a balanced BB to be, and I am not shy showing my legs because they are as trained as my pecs or biceps…

Probably not you, but there are too much guys in the gyms that even don’t know what a quads or a squats or deaflift is… all they know is almost bench press and biceps curl.

Theres a lot to be said as well about the set up related to benching, as you have stated your flat bench is much, much stronger. Perhaps the way you approach the set up is one component to the issue, meaning you set up different; maybe losing tightness that you would exhibit in the set up to the flat bench. But again its only one component, food for thought.

In order to become stronger in a lift I would perform singles, doubles, and triples with 85-100% of your 1RM max in the lift, around 8-12 sets. Bear in mind you might need to adjust your training split around this. Supramaximal holds with above your 1RM max may also benefit you. Lastly, isometric training at the incline angle may also aid in strength development.

I realize that you’re geared towards bodybuilding with a higher rep style, but incorperating repeated efforts with near maximal weights may benefit you. The ability to recruit muscle fibers and enhance their firing rate, strengthening tendons etc. is obviously advantageous to any lifting.

Try starting at the lowest possible incline and then every two weeks raise the incline one notch.

Try starting at the lowest possible incline and then every two weeks raise the incline one notch.

[quote]G87 wrote:
So your idea to get better at an exercise is stop doing it for 6 months?



The first time I ever benched 315 I’d stopped doing traditional bench and focused on close grip and incline for 6-8 weeks. Once I could do both of those with 225 for sets of 6-8 I went back to pinky on the ring flat bench and got 3 plates my first day back. Focusing on other things sometimes helps, but 6 months does sound a bit excessive.

My incline has gone up 25 pounds in the past two months. I’d say just be patient and keep doing it. Incline is sort of my prized exercise because it engages my strongest muscles, (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps.) Be dedicated to it and be creative!
I’ve been setting an alarm on my phone for fifteen minutes and I try to get 150lbs, (About 70% of my 1RM,) as many times as I can. Each session I try to get more. That seems to be working.

Well, good point, however I have not done it on purpose, I mean, I am not a powerlifter, or trying to achieve personnal record on certain lift. I am an average Joe, doing bodybuilding, I have a trainer (that is a competitive BB) that builds my workouts and changes them every 6-8 weeks. So it may happens that I won’t do something for a couple of months but, I will do something else. I may have not done bench press for about 6 months, but I’ve done, DB press, DB powerfly, fly, cable cross over, incline and decline press, db press, power fly and fly, without forgetting the shoulders and back muscles. During that 6 months, Imay have done a doggcrap, and a bulgarian cycles.

What does your split look like, and what does your workout look like? Meaning what are you doing for each day and how long are you working out for. Your probably doing too much.