Find out why the incline press is a better shoulder builder than a chest builder.
The nuts and bolts of what you need to know…
The incline press has long been held as primarily a chest exercise, but the reality of the situation is that it may in fact be better suited as a shoulder exercise
If only 5% more of the upper chest is recruited when performing incline presses in relation to flat bench presses, but 85% more of the front delt is recruited, then statistically the incline press is more of a shoulder exercise – at least more so than anyone has ever given it credit for. (1)
Instead of using the incline press to build the chest, I like to use it to not only build the delts, but improve my overhead press performance
For as long as I can remember, the incline press has always been touted as a primary upper chest builder. And while the incline press is most definitely a movement that can facilitate growth of the entire chest, not just the upper region, as it allows for rather heavy loads to be hoisted in direct opposition of the fibers of the upper chest, it may actually be better suited as a deltoid developer.
If we break down the mechanics of the incline barbell press, we will see that the shoulder joint itself goes into hyperextension in the bottom position of the lift. This hyperextended position is indicative that the front delt is stretched the most – and the muscle that is stretched the most, is generally recruited the most. On top of that, in the trenches experience has left me, on more than one occasion, feeling the wrath of a high volume of incline barbell work on my shoulders in the days following the workout. As a result, I now see the incline press as more of a shoulder builder than a chest builder.
If you’re looking for better moves to build up your chest watch this:
Because the chest is more heavily involved in the incline press than the overhead press, greater loads can be used to overload the shoulders. This is another reason why I favor the incline press for shoulder development. In fact, one of the ways I like to boost my overhead pressing strength is to use the same load I’d like to be able to overhead press cleanly, as my incline press weight – realistically this weight is generally around 10% more than I can overhead press cleanly (meaning no cheat). This enables me to perform a higher volume of work with a certain amount of weight to promote a “habituation” effect.
Habituation in this case meaning becoming accustomed to handling a specific load. Since I can handle more on the incline than overhead, but the delts are still heavily involved, I can use the incline press to increase the amount of volume performed at a given load, and thus speed up the adaptive response.
One way to use the incline press to increase overhead press performance is to perform it first, when you are strongest, since this is when you can handle the greatest loads, as fatigue will not be as much a limiting factor. In this case you want to take advantage of the mechanical advantage provided by the incline press and overload the delts by using more weight than which you can currently overhead press.
Another way to use the incline press to increase overhead press performance is to perform the lift after you’ve performed your overhead work, since it will allow you to further subject the musculature to high levels of tension by way of heavy weights. Since you’re stronger on the incline, you can strive to use the same loads that you used for your overhead work, thus enhancing the habituation effect by allowing you to perform more work with the same loads.
It’s for these reasons stated above that I now consider the incline press to be of more value to shoulder development, than to chest development. This isn’t to say that the incline press is not a chest developer at all, but rather that its primary value comes from the effect it has on deltoid development over chest development. At best, the incline press can facilitate chest development by way of increasing shoulder strength, which directly contributes to presses performed on any angled bench, therefore allowing you to greater overload the chest on movements better suited for it.
What I’d like to know from you is, have you found that the incline press leaves your shoulders more sore than your chest when performing a high volume of incline barbell presses? Have you noticed that your shoulders receive a far greater stretch when performing incline barbell presses, as opposed to overhead presses, thus leading you to the same conclusion as I? Leave your comments below!
Stoppani, Jim. “Are You Using The Wrong Chest Exercise?” Www.bodybuilding.com. N.p., 14 Aug. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Like this article? Please rate and share below!
If you liked this article, you'll LOVE our No Nonsense Newsletter!
Sign up Now and
- Learn how to eat to get Lean and Ripped…
- Learn how to lift to get Bigger and Stronger…
- Learn how to stay motivated to Build Your Dream Body…
- PLUS… 3 exclusive free gifts as a surprise!
Your Information is 100% Secure With Us And Will NEVER Be Shared With Anyone.