Many of you might have done incline bench press many times in the gym. It is one of the popular old-school exercises to build an amazing upper chest. Even famous bodybuilders like Arnold use to smash the gym with the incline bench press. They had that big and fuller-looking chest because of the bench press.
Many times, we are very busy with our work and life due to which it becomes very difficult to go to the gym. Because of that reason, we make excuses like no time, busy schedule. Some people might also need to travel quite frequently due to their job. But that should not stop you from working out.
Here, in this blog, I will share with you some of the best incline bench press alternatives that you can do at home, and you don’t require any heavy equipment for this. Some are bodyweight exercises while for some, you might need basic home gym equipment and that’s it!
So if you can’t do an incline dumbbell press or barbell press as you are stuck at home and can’t go to a gym. Then read the entire blog and this will be very helpful for you.
6 Best Incline Bench Press Alternatives that can be done at home are:
- Decline Pushup
- Incline Swiss Ball Dumbbell Press
- Incline Chest Press With Bands
- Front Raises for Chest
- Reverse Grip Rotational Dumbbell Press
- Decline Explosive Pushup
Each exercise is discussed in detail. But before looking at the exercises, let’s first talk about the muscles involved during an incline bench press.
Muscles Used During Incline Bench Press
The inclined bench press is a very popular exercise to target the upper chest. When you do any kind of pressing movement with your arms, it engages the front delts and triceps in the action.
When you set up an incline bench at a 45°-50° angle, it automatically puts your chest at an angle that targets the upper chest more. So when you do an incline bench press with a barbell or dumbbells, in both cases, the upper chest is the main focus.
So during a bench press, the pectoralis major, especially the upper part of the chest is the primary muscle trained, whereas the secondary muscle involved is the triceps and deltoids.
Given below is the list of the top incline press alternatives that you can do even at home. All of these exercises will target the upper chest and have a similar movement pattern to an incline bench press. So let’s dive in!
Incline Bench Press Alternatives ( No Bench Required )
1. Decline Push Ups
Decline pushup is the best alternative to the incline bench press. This exercise has a similar movement pattern of the incline press and it targets exactly the upper chest. You can do this easily at home without any equipment. All you need is good upper body strength to push your body up!
How to do
1. Place your toes on a table, chair, or bench. The height of the table should not be too much. Your hands should be placed on the floor slightly wider than the shoulder width.
2. By keeping your legs and arms straight, take your body down. Your elbows should be at a 45° angle and your core should be tight.
3. Pause at the bottom and return to the starting position. You don’t have to look up during the movement.
Always breathe in as you go down and breathe out on the way up during every push-up exercise you do. You don’t have to hold your breath ( Valsalva maneuver )
2. Incline Swiss Ball Dumbbell Press
If you don’t have access to a bench, then this is a great way to train your chest. You just need a swiss ball for this exercise which you can easily buy online for your home workout. You can do many exercises with a swiss ball so you should have those with you.
How to do
1. Sit on a swiss ball while holding both dumbbells on each hand.
2. Slide your body forward such that your hips are slightly above the floor and keep the dumbbells close to the shoulders.
3. While keeping your elbows at about 60° angle, start pushing the dumbbells up and extend your elbows at the top.
4. Slowly bring the weights back to the starting position and then repeat the movement.
As you are performing this exercise on a swiss ball, your core muscles will be engaged a lot which makes it a more functional movement.
Having a pair of dumbbells at home is always an advantage because you can do so many exercises even without going to the gym. If you don’t have it already, then you can buy it from here
3. Incline Chest Press With Bands
Another exercise that is a good alternative is to decline bench press. You can do this exercise at home very easily if you have resistance bands with you. It’s not so expensive and so many people can afford it. It’s always better to have some dumbbells or resistance bands to work out easily at home.
This is a good isolation exercise where you can completely concentrate on your upper chest. This will help you in building a better mind and muscle connection. You should do this exercise after performing heavy pressing movements like the bench
Muscles targeted- Pectoralis major and minor (upper chest)
How to do
1. Attach a door anchor at the lower part of the door. You can watch the above video to understand it better.
2. Hold the resistance band and get to the pushing position. Make sure that your elbow is pointing at the door anchor where the band is attached.
3. Retract your shoulders and start pushing forward. Pause at the top and come back down slowly.
Your shoulders should be back (retracted) and your chest should be up before performing any pushing movement. That will keep your scapula in a much more stable and safe position. This will reduce the risk of injury and put more tension right on the chest.
4. Front Raises for Chest
Front raises are a great way to isolate your upper chest and here, we are not talking about the front raises for shoulders. This is a different exercise that is specifically for your upper chest. You can do this exercise with just dumbbells and you don’t need any other equipments.
How to do
1. Grab two pairs of dumbbells and stand straight with both hands facing forward.
2. While maintaining a supinated grip, start moving a hand up towards the midline of your body.
3. Pause at the top when your hands are at about shoulder height and squeeze your upper chest at the top.
4. Slowly return to the starting position and do the same movement from the other hand.
You will strongly feel your upper pecs getting pumped while performing this workout. Make sure to concentrate on your chest and keep your palm facing up to keep the tension on the chest.
You can also bring the dumbbell inward toward the midline to put extra tension on your chest.
5. Reverse Grip Rotational Dumbbell Press
The reverse grip floor press is a great exercise to target the upper chest. This exercise can be done on the bench with a dumbbell or by holding a barbell.
However, it also activates a lot of triceps so you have to make sure that you have a proper mind and muscle connection when performing these exercises. So always concentrate on the upper chest during the movement.
How to do
1. hold both the dumbbells and lay down on the floor. Keep your hands straight up at a reverse grip position.
2. Start the exercise by bringing your arms down and bringing the dumbbells down toward the lower chest. Rotate at the bottom half of the movement. Your hand grip will be neutral at the bottom position.
3. Pause at the bottom position and then push your arms up while rotating your arm during the movement.
You can also do this exercise without rotating your hands at the bottom. Just keep it in a reverse position and move your arms down and up. This might be uncomfortable for some as it requires good wrist mobility.
6. Decline Explosive Pushup
This is an explosive version of the decline pushup. This exercise is good to improve the power of your upper body. So if you are an athlete, you should do explosive pushups.
This exercise can easily be done at home without any equipment. But some people, especially beginners, this exercise is not recommended. At least you should be able to do decline pushups properly before jumping on to the explosive version.
How to do
1. Place both feet on the chair or stool and keep your hands on the floor with your arms extended.
2. Keep your shoulder retracted. Your arm should be in line with the upper chest. This will be your starting position.
3. Start the exercise by descending while keeping your core tight. Stop at the bottom when your cheeks are just above the floor.
4. From the bottom, press towards the floor explosively such that your arms are above the floor at the top.
5. Now land on the floor with your arms and then decent slowly. Then repeat the movement.
Explosive plyometric exercises are built to create speed and power. This helps in building muscle coordination and improves strength. So you must include these exercises sometime during your workout.
If you want to do a workout at home or if for any reason you can’t go to the gym, then these are the equipment you should consider buying. You can do many exercises if you have this basic equipment with you.
`1. Adjustable Dumbbells
Having adjustable dumbbells can be very helpful in performing workouts at home. You can do so many exercises with dumbbells. One of the important things to consider before buying dumbbells is whether you can increase or decrease the weight of the dumbbells.
Having adjustable dumbbells is very beneficial as you can increase the weight of the dumbbells as you progress. Bowflex is a very popular equipment company and they have good quality products.
You can check out their dumbbells by clicking here
2. Adjustable Bench
An adjustable bench is another basic and most important equipment you should have in your home gym garage. You can do so many exercises like incline, decline, or flat bench presses. You can adjust the bench angle to hit different parts of the chest.
You can also buy an adjustable bench from Bowflex by clicking here.
So these were some of the best alternatives to incline bench press. Now that you know about each of them, you don’t need to give any excuses. You can do these at home even if you can’t go to the gym.
Make sure that you also do other chest exercises along with these to develop three-dimensional chess. You should not just do upper chest exercises on your chest day. You need to do other chest exercises covering all parts of your pec.
Given below are some helpful blogs which will help you in designing the chest workout program at home.
- Best At-Home Middle Chest Exercises For thick and Strong Pec
- 16 Awesome Chest Exercises You Can Do Without Bench
- 12 Best Chest Exercises at Home for Big and Strong Chest
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Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He has worked as a personal trainer in gyms and is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com. He is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.