Athlete Bodybuilder Posing Showing Muscles

Upper Chest Gains: The Incline Bench Press Hack

Picture this: you're at the gym, ready to conquer your upper chest workout with the Incline Bench Press. It's like the holy grail of exercises for that chiseled upper chest look. But there's a sneaky saboteur on the loose – your front deltoid. It's hell-bent on stealing the spotlight from your upper chest!

You see, your anterior deltoids and upper chest fibers are practically neighbors, and they love to compete for attention. If you don't play your cards right, one will outshine the other.

The front deltoid already pulls its weight in shoulder workouts and other chest exercises, making it a real attention seeker, especially during the Incline Bench Press. So, let's expose the two major mistakes sabotaging your upper chest gains and drop some knowledge bombs to supercharge your workout!

First, before we dive into these blunders, let's get acquainted with the muscles at play during the Incline Bench Press:

Muscles in Action:

  • Front Deltoid
  • Clavicular Head (Pectoralis Major)

Now, onto the first blunder:

Blunder #1: The Bench Angle Bust

To make your front deltoid play second fiddle and let your upper chest shine, you've got to nail the incline bench press angle.

So, what's the winning angle for the incline dumbbell bench press? Picture this: the Upright Shoulder Press. It cranks up the front deltoid because it moves your arms straight up against gravity. But if you dial the incline bench to a common 60-degree angle – a common mistake – you're shifting the spotlight too far down.

That's like throwing a massive party but inviting the wrong crowd. Your focus drifts away from your upper chest's sweet spot.

So, here's the deal: drop that angle down! We're talking a 45-degree angle at the very least to get on the right track.

But the golden number for maximum upper chest action? Research points to 30 degrees as the sweet spot for the Incline DB Bench Press. Trust us; it may seem small, but it packs a punch. It keeps your upper pecs front and center while putting your front deltoids in the backseat.

Mistake #2: The Shoulder Blade Snub

As you pump out reps of the Incline Bench Press at 30 degrees, take a peek at your shoulder's position.

When the front deltoid muscles steal the show, your shoulders tend to round forward. Sound familiar? It's a common trap.

When that front deltoid takes charge, it's like a diva hogging the spotlight. It's out there, ready to push harder and faster than your upper chest.

But guess what? We've got the remedy. It's all about getting your shoulder positioning right. The trick is the "back and down" position. This move tucks your shoulders back and out of the spotlight, letting your upper chest strut its stuff.

But here's the kicker: many folks overlook this step. Whether they're oblivious to its importance or rushing to lift heavy, they're missing out on gains.

The Fix? Before you even think about lifting those dumbbells, roll your shoulders back and down, squeeze those shoulder blades together. This simple step engages your upper chest muscles and gives the front deltoids a well-deserved timeout.

But wait, there's more! Let's sprinkle some extra magic:

Bonus Tip: Give 'Em a Nudge

Muscular bodybuilder guy doing exercises with dumbbell

What if we told you there's a way to nudge those front deltoids even further backstage, letting your upper chest take the lead?

As you perform the incline bench press, don't just press those dumbbells up; press them inwards as well. It's like giving your chest an extra boost, lighting up the entire upper chest area.

But remember, it's all about control. Avoid forcing those dumbbells together, which can lead to instability. Instead, focus on a controlled squeeze during the lifting phase.

The Incline Bench Press Checklist:

To sum it up, here's your recipe for the perfect incline bench press:

  1. Bench Angle: Set it at 30 degrees to spotlight your upper pecs.
  2. Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Roll your shoulders back and down, squeeze those shoulder blades together.
  3. Controlled Squeeze: Gently press the dumbbells together during the lift.

With this checklist in hand, you'll banish the front deltoid diva, maximize upper chest gains, and supercharge your workout. So, get ready to rule the gym with your chiseled upper chest like a boss!

Now, it's your turn to put these savvy strategies to the test. Unleash those upper chest gains and conquer the gym, one rep at a time! Have questions or need more workout tips? We've got your back. Reach out anytime, and let's crush those fitness goals together! Here's to epic upper chest gains and your unwavering dedication in the gym!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Q: What is the main goal of the Incline Bench Press?
    • A: The Incline Bench Press is an exercise that targets the upper chest muscles, also known as the clavicular head of the pectoralis major.
  • Q: What are the two common mistakes that can sabotage your upper chest gains during the Incline Bench Press?
    • A: The two common mistakes are setting the bench angle too high and letting your shoulders round forward. These mistakes can activate your front deltoid muscles more than your upper chest muscles, reducing the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Q: How can you avoid these mistakes and optimize your Incline Bench Press performance?Β 
    • A: You can avoid these mistakes by following these tips:
      • Set the bench angle at 30 degrees, which is the optimal angle for stimulating your upper chest fibers.
      • Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down before lifting the dumbbells, which will stabilize your shoulders and prevent them from rounding forward.
      • Press the dumbbells up and inwards as you lift them, which will create more tension in your upper chest area.
  • Q: How often should you do the Incline Bench Press for maximum results?
    • A: The frequency of your Incline Bench Press workouts depends on your goals, experience level, and recovery ability. A general recommendation is to do it once or twice a week, with at least 48 hours of rest between sessions. You can also vary the number of sets, reps, and weight to challenge your muscles and avoid plateaus.

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!