Smith Machine Incline Bench Press is an excellent exercise for targeting your upper chest (Pectoralis Major, Clavicular) and front deltoid. You can lift more weight using the smith machine because the weight is counterbalanced and stabilized. You can worry less about dropping the weights on your chest. All you need to do is just twist the bar to lock it in place when your muscles begin to give way. Additionally, eliminating the use of your stabilizing muscle may be precisely what you need to overcome a plateau. Especially if you are the type of person who only uses free weights, when you use the smith machine, you will be able to lift more and target your Pectoralis Major more intensely.
Smith Machine Incline Bench Press Overview
- Primary Muscle(s) Worked: Chest; Pectoralis Major, Clavicular
- Other Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Triceps
- Equipment: Smith Machine, Incline Bench
- Mechanics Type: Compound.
- Force: Push
- Utility: Basic
Target Muscles Used for Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
- Pectoralis Major, Clavicular
Synergist Muscles Worked When Performing Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
- Deltoid, Anterior
- Triceps Brachii
Stabilizers Worked When Performing Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
- Biceps Brachii, Short Head
Antagonist Stabilizers Worked When Performing Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
Muscle Fiber Recruitment
When you use a Smith Machine, it will stabilize the motion for you throughout the range both up and down. Not needing to maintain the bar stable makes it easier for you to perform the movement safely. Though the downside is you will not recruit muscle fibers used to stabilize the motion as you would using free weights. Consequently, unless you are injured or have some other reason not to lift free weights, you should preferentially use free weights as in barbell Incline and dumbbell incline. Utilizing the smith machine after you have completes some barbell incline sets can add to your muscle breakdown of the target muscles.
Caution Needed Performing Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
The smith machine can help you lift when you are injured for some injuries, but it can also aggravate other injuries. If you have any shoulder or elbow problems, you may want just to avoid this exercise until you heal. There are plenty of other lifts which can help you develop strength without risk of aggravating an injury and delaying proper healing.
Smith Machine Set Up
- Adjust the incline bench to a 30-45 degree angle.
- Sit on the bench to find where the center of your chest will be, approximately one bar width above your nipples toward your neck.
- Then adjust the bench under the Smith Machine bar so that it lowers right to where you found the center of your chest will be.
- Sit down and test the bar first, before putting any weight on it.
- Once you have the bench position correctly for you, load the bar with your selected weight.
How to Properly Perform Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
- Sit on the bench that was set up as described above.
- Plant your feet flat on the floor, with your back and butt firmly against the bench.
- Grab the bar with an overhand (prone) grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Twist the bar to unlock the hooks from the safety pegs.
- Raise your rib cage, by doing you remove your lats (back) out of the movement and raise the intensity placed on your pectoralis.
- Lower the bar to the upper chest while inhaling, pause briefly.
- Exhale while pushing weight straight up over chest until elbows are almost locked, but do NOT lockout.
- Squeeze your chest muscle to get a maximum contraction.
- Again, slowly lower weight down to your upper chest and repeat.
- After you have finished your set, twist the Smith Machine bar locking the hooks back on the safety pegs.
Tips for Performing Incline Bench Press on the Smith Machine
- Position the bench properly for you. When positioning the bench underneath the machine, it is imperative that you have it in the correct place for you. The bench should be centered under the Smith Machine so that the bar lowers to just above the middle of the chest for incline presses, but also ensure that the bench is centered side to side in the middle of the bar.
- Use a proper bench angle. Do not use more than a 45-degree angle. If you go above 45-degrees, you will be placing the emphasis on your shoulders and not your chest.
- Use a smooth and controlled motion. The Smith Machine helps you control the bars balance and angle, but to avoid cheating, you need to ensure that you concentrate on using your chest to push the weight up and control the weight down.
- Begin with a lightweight. A good tip is to always perform a new lift with a lightweight first. Additionally, performing a light weight warmup set will help you practice proper form and control.
- Use a spotter. Although the Smith Machine is a fantastic way to lift heavier weights than usual without having a fear of dropping the load on your chest. There are still benefits to using a spotter. For example, a spotter can also help you get those last few reps out, by providing some assistance after you would have failed. Additionally, a spotter can help you finish with a negative rep or two that you couldn’t do by yourself.
Other Chest Building Tips
Incline bench press movements are essential for developing a full, well-rounded chest. As a bodybuilder, incline movements, such as the Smith Machine Incline Press should be performed as one of the first exercises in a chest workout.
Common Errors While Performing Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
- Using too much weight. A common mistake for many people just beginning in weight training is lifting too much weight. Make sure you use a correct resistance that will allow you to have proper form and the full range of motion.
- Compromise range of motion. Gripping the bar too wide will limit the range of motion, and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. It will also put too much pressure on the shoulder joint, which can lead to injury.
- Bouncing and jerking the weight. Bouncing is a form of cheating and will take the emphasis off your chest.
- You are performing the movement too fast. The slower you go, the longer you are stressing your target muscles. When you complete the lift too fast, it doesn’t allow you to recruit as many muscle fibers. You will not be maximizing your gains by diminishes the effectiveness of the exercise.
Variations of the Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
These variations will work different subgroups of muscles or work the same muscles in different ways. There are many variations to every strength training exercise. A few other variants to the Incline Bench Press include:
- Barbell Incline Bench Press. Same motions as outlined above but utilizing a barbell. Dumbbells and Barbells recruit additional muscle when training because you will need to stabilize the movement on your own.
- Dumbbell Incline Bench Press. Same motions as detailed above but with dumbbells. Dumbbell motions, like barbell motions, recruit additional muscle when training because you need to stabilize the movement by yourself. Dumbbell motions are also useful to throw into your training program because your arms can work independently of each other another, enabling a deeper extend in the bottom of the motion. A deeper stretch also allows for a more forceful contraction and the recruitment of more muscle fibers again. A complete muscle contraction can result in better development and more significant increases in mass.
- Machine Incline Bench. Same movement as detailed above but using different types of machines.
- Cable Incline Bench Press. Same movement as above but using cables which will allow a deeper stretch at the bottom of the range of motion.
Additional Exercises to Compliment Smith Machine Incline Bench Press
No resistance training program should consist entirely of machines, and no workout program should only contain free weights. Variety in the kinds of exercises you incorporate is what you need to develop your muscle definition and increase strength more quickly. When creating a good work out arrangements for any physical body part, including the upper body, it is good to add both machines, dumbells, barbells, and cables. Additionally, perform the lifts with different angles and setting, so you work the muscles from different angles. Another benefit is the added isolation of muscles or the use of more stabilizing muscles from the compound movements. Listed below are a few recommended exercises that could complement the Smith Machine Incline Bench Press:
- Decline Dumbbell Fly. Can be used as an isolated exercise for your Pectoralis Major, Sternal. Performing dumbbell flys properly gives a full-width stretch to your chest muscles while concentrating mainly on the center of the chest. Decline Flys are a great complimentary exercise for Smith Machine Incline Press because. Flys work the lower part of your chest instead of the upper part, and as a free weight dumbbell exercise, the decline dumbbell fly utilizes more muscle stabilizers required to balance and control the weight during exercise execution.
- Barbell Bench Press. The Bench Press is a compound exercise to target your Pectoralis Major, Sternal. The Barbell Bench Press is an excellent complimentary exercise to the Smith Machine Incline Press because as a free weight exercise, it utilizes more muscle stabilizers required to balance and control the weight during exercise execution. Performing it on a flat bench will also work the middle chest (as opposed to the upper chest which the Smith Machine Incline Press targets).
- Dumbbell Pullover. The Dumbbell Pullover is an advanced movement that when appropriately performed will hit the chest at different angles and employ muscle fibers not customarily recruited standard chest building movements such as the bench press, Pec Deck and flyes. Using the Dumbbell Pullover as part of your chest workout will aid in the full development of your chest pectorals.
- Dumbbell Bench Press. The Dumbbell Bench Press is a compound movement exercise as well that primarily develops the chest (Pectoralis Major). The primary benefit of dumbbells is the additional stabilizer muscles that are utilized and fatigued. It is an excellent complimentary exercise to the Smith Machine Incline Press because as a free weight dumbbell exercise, it uses more muscle stabilizers required to balance and control the weight during exercise execution. Dumbbell movements are also useful to throw into the mix because your arms can work independently of one another. Performing single arm exercises allows for a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement. The more extended range of motion and deeper stretching of the muscles requires the recruitment of additional muscle fibers. Utilizing more muscles can lead to better growth and more significant gains.
- Dips. Dips always are a great addition to a chest workout. They allow for a great stretch and the recruitment of muscle fibers that are not typically worked during pressing movements.
Smith Machine Incline Bench Press is one of the best-controlled movement incline press exercise out there targeting your upper chest. By using the Smith Machine Incline Bench Press with a controlled movement will allow you to concentrate on pushing heavier weight with not having to worry about balance. An incline press of some kind should be included in every chest workout, and it is a good idea to mix the method up, with dumbbells, barbells, cables or the Smith Machine. Don’t forget you make sure to train your back just as hard as your chest or you could be more prone to injuries.