The incline smith machine press is a variation of the incline barbell bench press, which uses fixed weights and requires less coordination and balance compared to the standard variation.
This exercise is performed from an inclined angle to target your upper chest muscles and a few other secondary muscles around them.
Required equipment: Smith machine
- Start by raising the bar high enough to fix an incline bench under it.
- Then, adjust that bench so that it is at a 30-45-degree angle with the floor.
- Lower the bar until it almost touches the bench. This should make it easier to align the bench at the center of the bar. It will also make sure the bench is positioned in such a way that is perpendicular to the bar.
How to do it:
- Sit on the bench with your back slightly arched.
- Grab the bar with a grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width. You can use the markings on the bar to help you maintain even spacing.
- Then, rotate the bar while pushing up to get the hooks off the safety spots. At this point, your arms should be fully extended. This is your starting position.
- Lower the bar until it touches your chest lightly.
- Press the bar to full arm extension once again and repeat as many times as you desire.
- When you are done with your set, rotate the bar to get it back to the safety stops.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE INCLINE SMITH MACHINE PRESS WORK?
As with all other bench press exercises, the incline smith machine press is designed to target your chest.
When you are performing this movement from a 30-45 degree incline, the angle of your arms is relative to your body in such a way that your upper chest muscles do most of the work.
Additionally, this movement recruits the triceps on your upper arms and your anterior deltoids at the front of your shoulder.
BENEFITS OF THE INCLINE SMITH MACHINE PRESS
FOCUSES ON YOUR UPPER CHEST
Most chest exercises work almost every part of your chest but the upper portion.
The incline smith machine press, however, makes sure it extensively works your upper pectoral muscles (pecs) by controlling the path of the bar hence putting most of the load directly on the pecs.
This makes it a great exercise for increasing gains in muscle mass and strength.
GREAT FOR BEGINNERS
The incline smith machine press does not require as much balance and coordination as other free-weight chest exercises.
As such, it is quite ideal for beginners who are looking to work the upper chest muscles but have yet to gain enough balance and coordination for intense upper body exercises.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE INCLINE SMITH MACHINE PRESS
INCLINE BARBELL PRESS
The incline barbell press is a popular compound exercise that recruits the muscle fibers in your triceps, chest, shoulders and to a lesser extent, your back.
By switching up the angle from which you are pressing from a flat to an inclined position, you get to focus the tension on the upper chest muscle fibers.
Here is how you should do it for maximum effectiveness:
- Set an incline bench to about 30-45 degrees.
- Load the bar, and then lie back on the incline bench.
- Press your hips onto the bench and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
- Grip the bar with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. If you are unsure about your grip, check your forearms to make sure they are perpendicular to the ground when you get to the bottom position.
- Get the barbell off the rack and stabilize it above your shoulders and upper chest. To do this, retract your shoulder blades forcefully and tighten your grip around the barbell to activate it better.
- Pull the barbell down towards your chest, making sure to actively use the muscles on your back to keep your shoulders and chest from rounding forward.
- Pull your elbows toward your body, and then press the barbell upward once again.
- Repeat as many times as you desire.
INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS
The incline dumbbell press is a great alternative way to build muscle size and strength in your upper pectoral muscle.
With proper form, it can also improve your grip strength and get rid of muscle imbalance between the two sides of your chest.
How to do it:
- Set the bench to a 15-30-degree incline.
- Sit on the bench and place a dumbbell on each of your hip creases.
- Lie back and tighten your core.
- Press the weights upward. Make sure your palms are facing forward.
- Rotate both shoulders outward to recruit your lats. Your upper back should be stable and tight throughout the set. This is the starting position.
- Slowly and with control, lower the weights until your upper arm goes slightly past your back. Maintain a 45-degree angle between your elbows and torso at this point.
- Pause for a second when you get to the bottom of the rep.
- Tighten your chest and push the weights back to the starting position.
- Continue pressing until your arms are lengthened, with a slight bend in both elbows.
- Squeeze your chest at the top position to finish the rep.
INCLINE SMITH MACHINE PRESS MISTAKES TO AVOID
USING TOO MUCH WEIGHT
When you use too much weight for the incline smith machine press, you are likely to find yourself bouncing the bar off your chest and raising your butt off the bench.
In such a position, you may also not extend your arms fully.
Try to use a lighter weight that you can comfortably control until you have completely mastered the form, and then you can use something heavier.
For this exercise to be maximally effective, you should move the weight in a slow, steady and controlled manner instead of a fast, jerking fashion.
IMPROPER BENCH ALIGNMENT
It is very important that you properly align the bench inside the machine before you get started with this exercise.
When the bench is not aligned properly, you risk putting unnecessary pressure on your shoulder joints.
TO SUM UP
If you came here looking for a way to increase your upper chest strength and size, then there’s doubt you’re going to leave smiling.
This classic chest trainer will help work your upper strength better than most other exercises that work the same area because it controls the path the bar follows as you press it up and lower it back down.
Stay consistent with it while maintaining the correct form and with time you’ll realize that chest you desire may not be as far from reality as you thought.