Smith Machine Incline Bench Press – Best Way To Incline Press?

April 30, 2022 0 Comments


In this article I will be discussing the smith machine incline bench press and the reasons why I believe it is the best way to incline press. Incline pressing is a terrific assistance exercise for the bench press and is one of the best pec builders for building up the upper chest.


Benefits Of The Smith Machine Incline Bench

One of the big advantages of incline benching using the smith machine is the safety aspect. In my opinion it is the safest way of executing an incline bench. You won’t experience any strain on the shoulder using this benching variation in the smith machine.

Another big advantage is you can really isolate the muscles without worrying about stabilising the weight and exerting extra energy. This makes the smith machine incline bench an incredible exercise for bodybuilders looking to add serious size to their pecs. 

The final advantage is the loading potential. You can load up huge amounts of weights on this exercise. If you compare that to a dumbell incline, you are limited to the heaviest dumbbells your gyms have. Many commercial gyms don’t go heavier than 50kg dumbbells. 

When going very heavy on the smith machine incline bench I would advise having a spotter to help you with the unrack and getting into the starting position. They can also assist you to rack the weight at the end of the set. You can also bench alone using the smith machine by setting the safeties at the appropriate height to catch the weight in case you fail a rep.

smith machine incline


Dangers Of The Barbell Incline Bench

The barbell incline bench is a lot more dangerous in my view than the flat barbell bench. With the flat bench you are in the strongest possible position mechanically. The incline bench puts you in a more vulnerable position and when you have to stabilise a free weight like this it can put undue stress on the shoulders.

To mitigate this, many lifters don’t touch their chest on an incline barbell bench press. Instead they will lower the bar to an inch above their chest on every rep. It is true that this does help to reduce the risk of experiencing a shoulder strain. Everyone is built differently as well and this will affect the mechanics. 

However, shoulder strains from barbell incline benching are a lot more common that people think. It is also the major reason why I don’t advocate this exercise to people. I would have them do a smith machine incline bench or a dumbbell incline bench instead.

>>Learn why the smith machine has a bad reputation

incline bench

A Look At The Dumbbell Incline Bench 

The dumbbell incline bench is a very good exercise for strengthening your bench press and there is a high degree of carryover. The limiting thing with dumbbells is that you can’t load them up as heavy as you would like in many cases. Unless you go to a hardcore gym where they have very heavy dumbbells upwards of 60kg. 

Also, one of the issues I found with the dumbbell incline bench is when the weight gets very heavy you can put some stress on your shoulders. It is nowhere near as bad for the shoulders as a barbell incline though. 

I would say the incline dumbbell bench is a good exercise but there are limitations which I have discussed. The smith machine incline is safer and there is no limit to how heavy you can load it. 

incline dumbbell bench

Other Variations Of Incline Benching

There are some other funky ways that you can incline bench. You could use kettlebells, resistance bands or cables. In my view these do have their merit. Resistance bands for example offer something completely unique, you can activate many muscle fibres and do so in a fairly safe manner.

Kettlebells will work your stabiliser muscles harder but they too are limited by weight. Not many gyms stock heavy kettlebells. The heaviest kettlebell in my gym is 34kg. Also they can be cumbersome to get into position.

Incline bench pressing using cables is fairly safe. I have only tried this variation a few times personally – I would not do this as a power movement. I would advise using cables for a higher rep burnout set rather than a very heavy set. 



To conclude, in this article I have examined the smith machine incline bench press. I have provided reasons for why I believe it to be the most practical and best way to incline press. From a safety point of view it is unrivalled. The other variations of the incline bench have some issues in this regard.

Barbell incline benching is the most dangerous and can lead to a higher injury risk. I would not advise people to perform this exercise. However, there are people out there who do this exercise regularly and don’t experience problems. 

Dumbbell Incline benching is limited by weight. You can’t go ridiculously heavy as most gyms simply don’t have heavy enough dumbbells. Also when the weight gets very heavy, the likelihood of shoulder strains increases a fair bit. 

Personally I would advise incline dumbbell benching for higher rep sets to finish a chest workout. The same could be said for the likes of the cable incline and kettlebell incline. 

If you have any questions about anything I have written in this article please leave me a comment below. I respond to all comments and enjoy interacting with you. Let me know which variation of incline benching is your favourite. Give me a reason why you enjoy that variation. 

Having big pecs really completes a physique and looks highly aesthetic. The incline press is a fantastic way of really rounding out your pecs and giving them a full and complete look. I believe that everyone should include at least one incline pressing variation in their training. It is a great assistance move for other presses like the bench press and shoulder press. In my own training I have noted that my bench press responds the best when I am throwing in good volume incline pressing work. 

As always, stay safe and enjoy your training. Keep pumping!



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