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The incline bench press is a bodybuilding exercise that targets the upper and lower pectoral muscles and triceps, as well as the anterior and posterior deltoids. It is a variation of the traditional bench press, which targets the whole chest and not just the upper portion. This exercise can be done using free weights or the incline bench press machine.
Performing an incline bench press using free weights is very simple, but effective. To perform this exercise, a bodybuilder straddles an incline bench and lies down. His feet are firmly planted on the floor, with his calves perpendicular to the ground. An exercise ball can also be used if an incline bench isn't handy.
The back, bottom, head and shoulders of the person are firmly pressed against the bench or exercise ball. The bodybuilder's chest is pointed upwards and his abdominal muscles are engaged. The bar, or free weights, are positioned over his chest, but away from his neck. The bodybuilder inhales and slowly lowers the bar, or free weights, to his chest. The weights are then pressed back upwards, as he exhales.
A bodybuilder can also perform the incline bench press using a Smith machine. This machine resembles a squat rack, with a barbell that slides down two attached vertical poles. This setup ensures that the weight lifter stays within the correct range of motion, helping to prevent injury to himself.
Weights are placed on the bar and locked on with end clips. If this is the first time the machine is being used, it is advised that the bodybuilder performs the exercise without weights attached. As with the free weights, an incline bench is used with the Smith machine to target the upper chest muscles.
To perform the incline bench press on the Smith machine, the bench is straddled and the weight lifter aligns his upper chest with the bar. His hands are placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart on the barbell, using an overhand grip. The barbell is released from the machine by rolling it either forward or backward, depending up the machine being used.
The bar is slowly lowered into the starting position over the bodybuilder's chest. The bodybuilder exhales and presses the bar upwards until his arms are fully extended. Next, he slowly returns the bar to the starting position while he inhales. When the incline bench press is completed, the bar is returned to the racks.
A common mistake that people make when they are buying weight benches is buying benches that cannot be adjusted into incline and decline positions. A standard bench press is great, but if you are going to buy a bench and a bar you want it to be able to do as many lifts as possible.
Really the only way to get a complete chest workout is to do all three kinds of bench presses as well as flys and wide gripped presses to work the outsides of the pectoral muscles. The chest is a big muscle group and it takes a lot of work to develop it fully. Many people make the mistake of just doing bench presses thinking this alone will get them a well defined chest.
The incline bench press is a great exercise for developing the strong neck and upper chest that helps to give men that powerful and defined look that is so in demand these days. If you work this area diligently you will be ready to pop a few buttons on your shirt come summer time.
There is a lot of debate about whether its more effective to do a dumbbell incline bench press or a barbell incline bench press. You will get results either way, but I think the dumbbell press puts more strain on your muscles and ultimately makes for a better lift. Try both, see what you feel most comfortable with. The key is not finding the perfect lift, it is sticking with a routine and pushing yourself to tackle higher weights.
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