When strength training we use utility benches to change the angle of our trunks inclination. Raising the bench from flat back to incline changes the line of action of the resistance, which in turn changes the direction of the movement force. Coupled with the use of a barbell or dumbbell trainers, coaches and athletes can affect how they overload specific areas of the body.

Pendulum Bench

Pendulum Utility Bench

As the bench rises so does the activation for both portions, the clavicular and sternal parts of the pectoralis major muscle.  When inclined the clavicular fibers of the pec become more active compared to the sternocostal fibers. Once the seat back is at its highest point the anterior deltoid musculature becomes heavily involved, as well as, the trapezius muscles, as they assist in stabilization and the action of upward scapular rotation.  

Whether using a barbell or dumbbell in the incline position their is greater biceps brachii activation and lower tricep brachii activity, when compared to a flat back bench.  Dumbbells require significantly more bicep involvement than barbells and less tricep involvement in general. If using a barbell and it is necessary to decrease barbell bicep activity use a narrower grip and avoid placing your hands wide on the bar. 

Importantly, knowledge of the neuromuscular activity utilizing adjustments in heights of a bench, switching from barbells to dumbbells or vice versa and hand placement may benefit athletes returning from rehabilitation or experiencing pain during lifting. 

Incline Bench Press

Subtle Changes in Training are Key to Getting Strong.