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Looking for Tips on Incline Pressing

Big fan! I’ve been reading your stuff on LIFT-RUN-BANG since discovering it a few months back. Very happy to see you have your own forum here!

I’m doing a minimalist, high-frequency training block. I’ve been doing incline bench press for my single upper body pressing movement. I read “In praise of the incline” on LRB, and I’ve seen you put up some ridiculous incline bench numbers on YouTube, so I know you’re a fan of the incline. I have some questions on how to get the most out of the movement. Ultimately my goals are to get stronger at incline pressing while preserving my joints. I figure since I’m incline pressing 3 days a week, the risk of overuse injuries is higher. So far, elbows feel fine, but shoulders can get a little achy.

Onto the questions…

I noticed you use a thumbless grip. Would you recommend this for everyone, or is this something you do because of your mechanics? I’ve tried it, and I find I can internally rotate my shoulders compared to a “normal” grip.

Also read you stop about an inch short of your chest to save your shoulders. Is there a good way to make sure I’m stopping at the same spot consistently? And, how do you feel about pausing at the bottom… making it a Spoto press kinda? Last, I was thinking about putting plate on my chest. I figured that would ensure my range of motion is consistent between reps - bad idea?

Finally, any guidance on grip width? Personal preference, or is there an optimal width for keeping the joints healthy?

Thanks for your time!

A few things -

I personally would not press three times a week. Even if your training is balanced, and the truth is, most people’s are not, even if they think it is, it’s a lot of wear and tear on the connective tissue and rotator cuff to press that much. I would scale it back to twice a week. There was even a study done recently that showed three times a week for a movement offered no more benefit than doing it twice a week.

I think you’re over thinking stopping in the same spot. Whether it’s an inch above or below, just get into the same “range” if you’re going to stop above the chest, and you’ll be fine. It doesn’t have to be exact. I stopped right about chin level.

I would recommend a light day, with rep sets of 12-15 or even more, like with the 350 method. Then the second day would consist of heavier work in the 4-6 rep range for 4-6 sets.

You could vary grip width for both as well. going a little closer on the heavier day so that way you could achieve stronger scap retraction and provide the shoulders with a bit more stability and safety, then on the light day, a much wider grip with a more flared elbow which would really lengthen the pecs.

Approaching it this way would offer up all the benefits you could get out of two days a week.

I’d never ever put a plate on my chest.


Paul - Great advice. I really like the heavy day / light day setup. Thanks for setting me straight.

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