7 Great Incline Bench Press Alternatives

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Incline bench presses have their advantages but you may not like them. Discover some alternatives to incline bench presses with similar effects?

By changing the angle of the bench you focus slightly more on the upper part of your chest muscles. Besides that, incline bench presses can also be a great compound exercise to train your triceps and shoulders.

In turn, this means that incline bench presses can help you build muscle mass, burn calories, and offer other typical exercise benefits.

Whether you don’t enjoy incline bench presses, you don’t have an incline weight bench, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these alternatives to incline bench presses can offer you some or all of the same benefits.

If the only thing missing is an incline bench you may be able to lean with your body against a sturdy object while sitting on the ground.

Another option is raising one end of a flat weight bench. Keep safety in mind for both of these options.

1. Incline chest fly

For this first incline bench press alternative you still preferably have an incline weight bench. You will also need some type of one-handed resistance.

Take the following steps to do an incline chest fly with dumbbells on a weight bench:

  1. Lie down with your back on an incline weight bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Keep your arms with the dumbbells slightly less than stretched and pointing up. Your hand palms should face each other and your hands should be as close together as possible.
  3. While keeping your arms slightly less than stretched slowly lower the dumbbells down sideways until your arms are about horizontally to the ground.
  4. Move your arms back to the position in step 2 in a controlled motion.

Similar to the chest press, the chest fly is a relatively standard chest exercise. By changing the upward angle in relation to your body you engage your upper chest muscles more compared to the regular chest fly.

The incline chest fly is more of an isolated alternative. This exercise will give your chest muscles a hard time but not your triceps or shoulder muscles like in the incline bench press.

2. Decline pushups

Pushups are a popular bodyweight exercise to train chest muscles at home or in the gym. By changing the angle of a regular pushup you can change what parts of the chest muscle get engaged more.

Doing a decline pushup makes you focus more on your upper chest muscles.

To do one you need an elevated platform to put your feet on. Once you have that, take the following steps to do a decline pushup:

  1. Sit in front of the object on your hands and knees with your face away from the object.
  2. Put your feet on the object one after the other. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched.
  3. Walk forward with your hands until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels and your shoulders are right above your wrists.
  4. Slowly fold your arms at your elbows until your face is close to the ground. Your upper arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides. Another way to put it is if someone is looking down at you from above your arms should make an arrow, not a T.
  5. Stretch your arms again until you are back in the position from step 3.
How to do a decline pushup

Decline pushups are harder to do than regular pushups since more of your body weight rests on your arms, wrists, and shoulders.

The more decline you go, the higher you place your feet, the harder the pushups become and the more you focus on your shoulders.

Other ways to make decline pushups harder include wearing a weighted vest or using resistance bands.

3. Upward cable chest press

This next exercise allows you to do the same movement as the incline bench press but without a bench.

Take the following steps to do a standing upward chest press with a cable machine:

  1. Put the cable pulleys at about chest height and attach the D-grip handle. You can also use other handles.
  2. Grab 1 handle, walk towards the other handle and grab it with the other hand. Stand in the middle between the two cables.
  3. Put one foot a small distance backward and the other foot forward for balance. Keep the rest of your body straight.
  4. Your upper arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides. Your forearms pointing forward horizontally.
  5. Push your hands forward and upward until your arms are slightly less than stretched. Keep your forearms in the same line as the cable so you can exert force optimally.
  6. Return to the position in step 4 in a controlled motion.

The more upward motion is key if you want to focus on your upper chest muscles instead of the middle part of your chest muscles.

By doing this movement standing up instead of on an incline weight bench the chest press becomes even more of a compound chest exercise.

You can also do the upward chest press with resistance bands at home if you have a good resistance band anchor at the right height.

4. Incline machine press

The chest press machine is basically the popular bench press exercise in machine form.

Instead of using a barbell and lying down on a weight bench, the weights have a fixed motion and you are sitting down with your back against back support.

Some of these machine chest presses are even made to be an alternative to incline bench presses.

he trajectory of your hands is made so you have to push slightly upward which can be helpful for targeting your upper chest muscles slightly more.

Make sure you adjust the seat and handles to the right settings for you personally. Your upper arms should be at about a 45-degree angle to your upper body in starting position.

If your shoulders hurt during the motion, it may be a sign that the machine settings or your technique are suboptimal.

A potential upside or downside of this option is that you have to pay less attention to balancing the weights.

This can lead to more focus on training your chest, tricep, and shoulder muscles which can in turn lead to more and faster muscle gain.

5. Landmine chest press

For this incline bench press alternative, you need a landmine setup. This is an attachment that secures a barbell at the ground level.

The landmine setup opens the door to exercises like the landmine chest press. Take the following steps to do this exercise:

  1. Set up the landmine with the desired number of plates. Stand upright in front of the landmine with your feet at about shoulder width and your face toward the landmine. Make sure you are far enough from the anchor so the barbell is at a tilted angle.
  2. Grab the end of the barbell with one hand with a neutral grip which means your hand palm points to the center/upward. The upper arm of the hand with the barbell is next to your body. The arm is about fully folded and the hand with the barbell is close to your chest.
  3. Slowly move the barbell forward and up until your arm is slightly less than stretched.
  4. Lower the barbell back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.

One of the possible benefits of the landmine chest press compared to the bench press is that you work out one side at a time. This can help you avoid or resolve muscle imbalances.

The downside of this is that you also likely have to work out for longer since each side needs to be trained separately.

6. Low pulley cable crossover

The regular crossover is a cable exercise done with the pulleys at shoulder level or higher. This makes the exercise focus on the lower chest muscles.

By changing the setting of the pulley and the movement you can also make the exercise focus on your upper chest muscles and make it more of an incline bench press alternative.

For the low pulley cable crossover exercise, you will need to attach single-grip handles to each side of the machine. After that, take the following steps to do a low pulley cable crossover:

  1. Put the cable pulleys at about hip height and attach the D-grip handles. You can also use other handles.
  2. Grab 1 handle, walk towards the other handle and grab it with the other hand. Stand in the middle between the two cables.
  3. Put one foot a small distance backward and the other foot forward for balance. Keep the rest of your body straight and your arms slightly less than extended throughout the exercise.
  4. Slowly bring your hands to the center and upward. Instead of stopping when right before your hands touch each other, you let one arm go above the other to go a little further.
  5. Slowly go back to the position in step 3.
  6. When doing multiple repetitions switch between which arm goes above.

A possible advantage or disadvantage depending on your training goals is that the low pulley cable crossover is more of an upper chest isolation exercise.

Your triceps and shoulders will have to work a lot less compared to a bench press.

7. Standing upward fly

You preferably want a cable machine or good resistance bands for the next incline bench press alternative. You can also use one-handed free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, separate weight plates, etc.

However, these will focus more on your shoulder muscles than cables and bands. Take the following steps to do an upward cable fly:

  1. Put the cable pulleys at about hip height and attach the D-grip handles. You can also use other handles.
  2. Grab 1 handle, walk towards the other handle and grab it with the other hand. Stand in the middle between the two cables.
  3. Put one foot a small distance backward and the other foot forward for balance. Keep the rest of your body straight and your arms slightly less than extended throughout the exercise.
  4. Slowly bring your hands to the center and upward until your hands meet in the middle.
  5. Slowly go back to the position in step 3.

This upward cable fly looks and is very similar to the low pulley cable crossover. The difference is that the upward cable fly stops in the middle while the crossover continues farther than that.

In general, a larger range of motion is beneficial for muscle growth.

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Author:

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.