The Incline Chest Press is the go-to exercise for building your upper chest and getting well-rounded and functional chest muscles. And there is some news we have for you: you won’t need to go to the gym or spend a lot of money on specific equipment. You will be able to train your upper chest as well as all the other muscles in your body with resistance bands only!
To really get the most out of training with resistance bands, it is important that you get a set of bands and not only a single one. By having resistance bands with different tension levels, you will be able to effectively adjust the band tension and therefore the resistance for any exercise and any body part. In case you still need a set to get started, check out our set right here: Resistance Bands Set
The following sections will give an insight into how to do the perfect incline chest press with resistance bands, including a step-by-step guide, important form mistakes to avoid and ways to adjust the resistance. We will cover variations of the basic incline chest press and give some background information about using resistance bands. At the end, you will find a workout plan for your chest.
How To Do The Incline Chest Press The Right Way With Resistance Bands?
One of the biggest mistakes you can do when it comes to resistance training is not warming up beforehand. By getting your muscles prepared for the heavy work, you will get better performance and therefore better results in the long run, not to mention that you will stay injury free.
In the variation section, you will find versions where you don’t need a door anchor, but we highly recommend getting one. Besides the door anchor you will need obviously the resistance bands, and you should also get some workout gloves to protect your skin friction, which you will feel when working out with resistance bands on a regular basis. In case you still don’t have these tool, check out these: Door Anchor and Workout Gloves.
Follow these 6 steps to get the perfect incline chest press:
- Attach the band to a door with a door anchor (height: around hips level)
- Get inside the loop and step forward, so you will feel some stretch in your chest and a slight force pulling you back
- Put your shoulder blades together and down
- Push your hands forward (45 degrees up) until reaching full extension (bring your hands together in the extended position)
- Return slowly to the starting position (resist against the pull of the band)
- Repeat for reps
Common Form Mistakes
⓵ No Slack! – Choose a set-up in which you won’t have any slack in the starting position (in the next section, we will show you various methods to do that). Having slack means there is no tension in the band and therefore there is no resistance. Without resistance, your muscles don’t have to work and that’s not why we are here, right?
⓶ Straight Neck and externally rotated shoulders! – A lot of beginners but even some experienced folks do this form-mistake when doing chest presses. To keep your shoulders healthy and really target the chest muscles, make sure to rotate your shoulders back and down. This will basically make sure that you bring your shoulder blades towards each other. Also, keep your neck neutral. This position will prevent any unnecessary tension in your neck.
This of course also applies for the finish position:
⓷ Control Each Repetition! – When using resistance bands, it is very easy to simply let the band do the work on the negative part of the exercise. But this is the most important part for progress. Work actively against the pull of the resistance band and really control the negative part of the movement in each rep.
⓸ Firm Grip – having a really stable grip will make sure to keep your wrists healthy and injury free. It will also allow you to move much more resistance, since you will be able to transfer the power of your chest effectively through your wrists to the band.
⓹ Split Leg Position – set one foot in front of the other to get a stable and solid split stance. If you place your feet parallel to each other, the resistance band will most likely pull you back, and you will tend to counter that by shrugging your shoulder – this will lead to form breakdown and increased chance of injury.
Besides the specific mistakes to avoid while doing the incline chest press, there are also more general mistakes people do when stating out to work out with resistance bands. To avoid these as well, check out our full article: The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands
Bonus Form Tip
The chest has two main functions. The first is pushing your arms forward. The second is bringing your arm inwards across the shoulder. To maximize the chest involvement in a pressing movement, it is important to incorporate the inward motion of the arm in every rep. Simply bring your hand together while pressing forward to get your chest to a full activation.
How To Adjust The Resistance
Resistance bands in contrary to weights don’t have a fixed resistance output. Due to the characteristic of bands having linear variable resistance, the absolute resistance you will have to work against is depending on the stretch of the band.
Many people who are new to resistance band training switch way too fast to the next heavier band without using the lighter band to its full resistance potential. This often leads to bad exercise form and might even result in injury. To avoid that, we collected various methods about how you can adjust the resistance of a given band to get the most out of it.
The best for incline chest press are:
Changing the Distance to the Anchor point – This method is my favorite when it comes to incline chest pressing with a door anchor. You simply take a step forward (or backwards) to adjust the resistance. By increasing the distance between you and the anchor point, you will have a greater stretch in the band in the starting position of the exercise and therefore more resistance which you will have to work against.
Adjusting the length of the band – Shortening the band is another great way to make it more challenging without using a stronger band. You can simply wrap the band around one or both of your hands to shorten it. This method is best for variations where you use your body as an anchor instead of a door anchor.
Combining Bands – One of the reasons to getting a set of resistance bands is that you can combine two or more bands to get the right resistance for any exercise. A great way to start is grabbing the lightest band and adding it as a second band to the set. You will instantly feel that it will be more intense.
Doubling the Band – Doubling up the band is a great method to make a very light band really challenging. Keep in mind that doubling the band doesn’t double the resistance… The final resistance will be even higher than double. Trying it with a lighter band is a good idea.
Slowing it down – Often forgotten is the exercise speed to make it challenging. The total time under tension is as important as the load for your muscles to make progress. By simply slowing down your reps and making your set longer, you won’t need a very heavy band to make it count.
Combining Methods – Of course, you can combine any of the methods in this section to get the perfect resistance you are looking for. Take a step forward to have more stretch in the band and slow down the reps. Or double the band and make it even a little shorter by wrapping it around your hand.
Alternative Ways To Do Incline Chest Press With Resistance Bands
Variations are great to play around in your workouts and keep it interesting. Also, your muscles and body get used to specific motion patterns, and it is a great idea to switch it up to surprise your body and muscles. Check out our favorites:
Split Stance Chest Press – in case you don’t have a door anchor or can’t find anything to attach the band to, you can simply use your body. Step with one foot on the band and take a big step forward to get into a split stance position. Now press forward and up.
In this variation, you will have a very large incline. You will be also using your shoulder muscles to a greater extent.
Unilateral Incline Press – this is the variation that works great for multiple reasons. The main reason is: by executing the exercise in this way, you can rotate your upper body towards the arm you’re exercising. This way you will get an even bigger activation in your chest without having to move a lot of resistance.
Another great thing is that you will have an extended range of motion by being able to get your elbow further behind your upper body.
The last benefit of doing incline presses one arm at a time is that you can easily go to failure and really work each side of your chest to the full potential because you don’t have to give up when one side fatigues. In the long-run, this will also prevent disbalances between your right and left side.
Incline Push-Up – the push-up is one of the greatest body weight pushing exercise for the upper body. And you can turn it into an upper chest exercise by simply elevating your feet to get an incline. The great thing about the push-up is that you can increase the intensity by adding a resistance band to the exercise. To get more insight into push-ups and how to do them 100% correctly, check out full article: Push-Ups With Resistance Bands
Behind the Back Setup – another great alternative is using your own back as an anchor point by putting the resistance band around your back and placing it below your shoulders. Now you can use the ends as handles and do the incline chest press this way. This version is useful for those having problems keeping the back and shoulders in the right position, as the band will always force you to keep your shoulders back to prevent it from moving.
Another awesome thing about resistance bands is that you can use multiple grips without changing your setup at all and with the incline chest press you have different options as well:
You basically have the basic (standard) grip (left), the neutral grip (middle) and the reverse grip (right) to choose from. Most people feel most comfortable with the basic grip, where the thumbs face towards each other.
The neutral grip is great if you feel any discomfort in your shoulders. This grip will put less strain on your shoulders, but your triceps will have to work harder.
The reverse grip is a specialty and not really my thing. By rotating your hand this way you will have a greater focus on your triceps while the shoulder will be less active.
Can You Train Your Chest Effectively With Resistance Bands?
Of course, you can. Resistance bands are simply a tool to create load which your muscles have to work against. Bands used to be only something people used for warming up and mobility work. But this is a thing of the past. Today, resistance bands can generate enough resistance to get an effective workout and make progress, whatever your goal might be. Building muscles, increase strength or lose fat – You can reach all these goals by using resistance bands.
Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
This is simple. When it comes to fitness training, we move our body against a load and therefore become stronger and fitter. The great thing is that our bodies and muscles don’t know what generates this load. It can be rocks, our body weight, barbells and dumbbell in the gym or resistance bands. The difference to the other examples is that bands don’t generate resistance in combination with gravity. It is the elastic characteristic of the band which makes working out with them possible.
If you want to learn more about this topic – read our full article: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands
More benefits resistance bands have over training with weights:
- No Cheating! Momentum is not an option with bands, and therefore you won’t be able to cheat your reps like many people do when working out in the gym.
- Joint Health! Keep your joints healthy and prevent injuries.
- Mobile! Small and lightweight. Bring them anywhere without struggle. Try that with weights.
- Multi Plane Training! When training with weights, you need to work against gravity, which means you will have to get into a horizontal position. With bands, you don’t have this limitation. You can train your chest while standing and build functional strength.
Check out all the benefits of resistance band in this article: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Incline Chest Press?
A chest press is the strongest pushing exercise for the upper body. All three major pushing muscle groups will be heavily involved in this movement. The main work will be done by the chest muscles, with the supporting muscles being triceps and shoulders (delts). By doing the chest press at an incline, the deltoids play a greater part in the movement also there is a focus on the upper part of your chest muscles.
Main Working Muscles:
- Pectoralis Major and Minor (Upper portion focus – Upper Chest)
Secondary Muscles Working:
- Triceps Brachii
Only doing chest presses is not a workout, and you won’t make great progress with only one exercise. What you need is a structured workout program, which is suited to your goals and tells you which exercises to perform and how many reps and sets to complete.
We did that. And we put all our hard work into an easy-to-use Training App. This way, you will have all your workouts and exercises in your pocket at all times.
Find out more here: BIQ Training App