How To Do The Incline Machine Press Properly

The incline machine press is one of the most well-liked chest exercises that’s done on a chest press machine.

Unlike other chest presses, like the incline barbell press which is associated with a high risk of injury, this fantastic exercise right here offers more stability and safety as you work your upper pectoral muscles to ensure you get the most out of your workout with the least chance of injury.

How to do it, you ask?

You are going to begin by adjusting the machine in such a way that your back will be pressed to the seat pad and your feet firmly planted on the floor.

Make sure it’s handles are also aligned at or slightly below shoulder level when you are seated.

Now, how to do it:

  • Sit on the bench and slowly press its handles forward until your arms are fully extended and you feel a complete stretch in your upper chest muscles.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat for as reps as you desire.


The main muscles the incline machine press targets are the upper pectoralis major (specifically the clavicular area), the anterior deltoids on your shoulder and the triceps on your arms.

You also get to work the medial deltoids, serratus anterior, subscapularis and the coracobrachialis.



The incline machine press works your upper chest more than most other chest exercises because of its inclined nature, which shifts all the work and focus to the clavicular (upper) part of your pectoral muscles and to the front part of your shoulders.


Your back rests comfortably on the seat pad the entire time you are doing this exercise. This helps protect it from strain which could result in injury, pain or discomfort.



The incline dumbbell bench press is another upper chest workout that engages your pecs, triceps and anterior deltoids.

The inclined angle of the bench puts a lot of tension in your upper chest to work your pecs, which are the main movers in this exercise.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Adjust the bench to an incline of about 30 degrees.
  • Sit on the bench and place 2 dumbbells in each hip crease.
  • Lie back on the bench, your upper back firmly pressed to the pad.
  • Hold the dumbbells in your hands and once in position, tighten your core.
  • Press the dumbbells towards the ceiling with your palms facing forward.
  • Engage your lats by rotating your shoulders outward. Keep your upper back stable and tight throughout the set. This is your starting position.
  • Slowly, lower the dumbbells until your upper arm slightly goes past your back. At this point, your elbows should be at a 45-degree angle to your upper body, with your wrist neutral.
  • Pause for a second at the bottom position of the rep.
  • To begin the upward motion, squeeze your chest and then push the dumbbells back towards your starting position.
  • Continue pressing until your arms are long and slightly bent at the elbows.
  • Finish the movement at the top position by tightening your chest.
  • Do as many reps as you desire, making sure to maintain distance between the two dumbbells at the end of each rep.

With proper form, this exercise can strengthen your upper pecs, enhance your grip strength and equalize strength imbalances between the two sides of your chest.

Take care not to use too much weight as this could injure your shoulder joint.


Unlike other strength training machines, the smith machine allows you to use heavier weights which allows for gradual strength gains through progressive overload.

Additionally, you can always lock it out if you are unable to complete the rep.

To work your upper chest using this machine, you first need to adjust a bench to about 30-45 degrees and place it on the smith machine.

Before you add the weight, lie on the bench and lower the bar to your chest to make sure the bar will rest on the upper part of your chest.

After you prep the machine, follow these steps:

  • Add the desired weight and then lie on the bench.
  • Grab the bar with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and then get the weight off the hooks. This is the starting position.
  • Slowly and with control, lower the bar until it is about one inch away from your chest.
  • Pause for a few seconds to concentrate the tension on your upper chest.
  • Raise the bar up without locking your elbows at the top position.
  • Repeat this movement as many times as you desire.


The incline dumbbell champagne press is also a great alternative for developing your upper chest strength.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Sit on the incline bench press while holding two dumbbells, one in each hand. Your palms should be facing each other to make the dumbbells touch together slightly above your chest.
  • Rotate the dumbbells and press the weight using the upper chest muscles upwards and back down to your chest.
  • Squeeze your chest muscles at the top position and press both thumbs towards the ceiling so that you activate your chest muscle fibers to the maximum level.
  • Slowly, lower the dumbbells to the starting position.



You want to keep as much tension in your upper  chest as you can while performing the incline machine press so that you make your upper chest do all the work.

Hence, you cannot afford to peel your shoulders and back from the seat pad as this will release the tension from these target muscles.


There are many chest exercises that work your chest but most tend to ignore the upper pecs, which is unfortunate because these muscles play the vital role of adducting and internally rotating the arm on the shoulder joint.

Good news is, this article outlines and describes everything you need to know about the few exercises that work this often ignored area of the chest.

With the correct form and consistency, the incline machine press could strengthen your upper pecs, triceps and deltoids while protecting your back from injury.

But before you get started, ask your doctor if this exercise is safe for you in case you have a history of chest or shoulder injury.

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