Smith Machine Incline Bench Press [Sculpted Upper Chest]

Are you looking to build a strong and defined upper chest? The Smith machine incline  bench press might just be the exercise for you.

In this exercise guide we will go over:

  • Muscles Worked during Incline Smith Machine Press
  • How To Do  The Incline Smith Machine Bench Press Correctly
  • Best Alternatives of the Incline Smith Machine Bench Press to do
  • Tips to maximize your Chest Gains

Exercise Details:

Also CalledSmith Machine Incline Press
Exercise TypeWeightlifting, Strength
Difficulty LevelBeginner to Intermediate
Body PartUpper Body
Main TargetsChest (Pectoralis major), Front delts (Shoulders)
Secondary TargetsTriceps, Upper back
Force TypePush
Equipment RequiredSmith Machine, Incline Bench, Barbell
Rest Time1-2 minutes between sets

What is the Incline Smith Machine Bench Press?

The incline Smith machine bench press is a variation of the traditional bench press. Instead of using a flat bench, you’ll use an incline bench that’s set at an angle.

The Smith machine provides a guided vertical path for the barbell, which can add stability and reduce the need for stabilizing muscles during the movement.

Related Exercises: 9 Top Chest Exercises Using A Smith Machine Only

Muscles Worked in the Incline Smith Machine Bench Press:

Muscles Worked During The Smith Machine Incline Press

Upper Chest (Pectoralis Major – Clavicular Head): The Incline Smith Machine Bench Press targets the upper portion of the pectoral muscles, known as the clavicular head of the pectoralis major. This muscle is responsible for the pressing motion as you lift the barbell upwards.

Front Shoulders (Anterior Deltoids): The front shoulders play a significant role in assisting the upper chest during the pressing movement. They help stabilize the shoulder joint and contribute to raising the barbell.

Triceps: The triceps muscles, located at the back of your upper arms, are engaged during the extension phase of the bench press.

Focusing on the upper chest can help create that aesthetically pleasing and well-rounded look to your pectoral muscles.

How To Do  The Smith Machine Incline Bench Press: Proper Technique

Before starting any exercise, it’s essential to warm up properly.

A set with just the barbell can help you get accustomed to the movement and prepare your muscles.

Set the incline bench to an angle that suits your comfort level. The higher the angle, the more emphasis on the upper chest.

  1. You have two grip options: wider or closer. A wider grip will target the lengthened position of the pecs, while a closer grip will emphasize the shortened position.
    Experiment to see which one feels better for you.
  2. Flaring the elbows is crucial for targeting the upper chest effectively. As you lower the bar, let your elbows move outwards, away from your body.
  3. Unlike dumbbell presses, the Smith machine limits the range of motion. Lower the barbell until you feel a comfortable stretch in your chest. Avoid going too deep, as it may place excessive strain on your shoulders.
  4.  As you press the barbell back up, imagine squeezing your hands together. This action will engage the upper chest more effectively.

Key Tips for Safety and Effectiveness:

  • Controlled Movement: Perform the incline Smith machine bench press slowly and with control. Avoid using momentum to lift the weight, as it reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Appropriate Weight: Focus on using a weight that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the entire set. Avoid going too heavy, as it may increase the risk of injury.
  • Listen to Your Body: Everyone’s range of motion is different, depending on shoulder mobility. Find the depth that feels comfortable for you, and don’t force yourself to go beyond that point.
  • Mental Focus (mind-muscle connection): Performing the incline bench press requires concentration and focus, So, pay attention to your form, and make each repetition count.

Tips For Incline Bench Press Using Smith Machine

1. Adjust the Bench for Optimal Chest Placement

When using the Smith Machine for an incline bench press, it’s essential to set up the bench at the correct angle.

This angle determines where the barbell will touch your chest during the exercise. Adjust the bench incline so that the barbell comes down to a comfortable and safe position on your chest.

2. A Secure Choice Without a Spotter

In some cases, you might not have a spotter (someone to assist you during the exercise) available.

In such situations, the Smith Machine is a good alternative because it provides built-in safety measures.

The fixed path of the barbell reduces the risk of losing control of the weight, making the exercise safer when lifting alone.

3. Leverage the Smith Machine for Heavier Lifts

The Smith Machine provides a guided path for the barbell, which can be helpful for lifting heavier weights.

If you find that you can’t complete a repetition (rep) during the exercise, you can use the machine’s safety features to lock the barbell in place.

This prevents the weight from falling on you and allows you to safely end the set.

Best Incline Smith Machine Bench Press Alternative

There are several effective alternatives to the incline Smith machine press that can help you build a strong and well-defined upper chest:

1. Incline Dumbbell Press

The incline dumbbell press is another excellent alternative that requires even more stabilization compared to the barbell version.

By using dumbbells, you engage more stabilizing muscles, which enhances coordination, functional strength, and muscle growth.

An added benefit of this exercise is that the inward movement of the dumbbells at the top engages more of the inner chest than the barbell press.

2. Incline Barbell Press:

One of the best alternatives to the incline Smith machine press is the incline barbell bench press.

This exercise targets the upper chest, shoulders, and triceps, helping you build overall upper body strength.

3. Decline Push-ups

This bodyweight exercise simulates the incline press motion, effectively targeting the upper chest without the need for specialized equipment.

By adjusting your body angle in this manner, you engage the upper chest muscles, replicating the effects of an incline press.

Similar Exercise: How To Do the Decline Smith Machine Press Properly?

4. Incline Dumbbell Flye

The incline dumbbell flye is an excellent exercise to add to your chest workout routine if you have access to an incline bench or Swiss exercise ball.

It primarily targets the upper chest muscles and allows for more fiber engagement compared to flat dumbbell flyes.

To get the most benefit from this exercise, focus on maximizing the range of motion and stretching your pecs as much as possible at the bottom of the movement.

5. Machine/Cable Incline Bench Press

If your gym has cable or plate-loaded machines, you’re in luck! These machines can provide an effective incline press workout that specifically targets your upper chest.

The machines guide your arm movements and maintain a consistent path, making it easier to focus on proper form and muscle engagement.


The incline Smith machine bench press is an excellent exercise for building a strong and well-developed chest.

By following the proper technique, using an appropriate weight, and maintaining mental focus, you can effectively target the upper chest.

Hassane Sghir
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