I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – The bench press is the ‘go-to’ exercise to be done on chest day for a reason. It’s a multi-joint move that works your chest, triceps, shoulders, and even your back.
The incline bench press is a variation of the bench press. Changing the angle at which you press can increase these benefits by putting more pressure on your upper chest fibers and making you work harder with your shoulders.
The clavicular head and the sternal head are the two main parts of the pectoralis major that make up your chest. The sternal is at the bottom of your chest and the clavicular head is at the top. A traditional incline dumbbell press works on the clavicular head and builds a strong upper chest.
With that being said, there will be many situations when you might find it hard or impossible to go to the gym (am looking at you Covid), so in this article, we will look at the top 8 incline bench press alternatives you can do at home.
Incline Bench Press Alternatives You Can Do At Home
1. Reverse Grip Rotational Dumbbell Press
The floor press with a reverse grip is a great way to work out the upper chest. With a pair of dumbbells, you can do this exercise on a bench or on the floor.
For this alternative to the incline press, you turn your wrist while moving the dumbbell. This lets you work smaller muscle groups in your arms and shoulders, improve your grip strength, and work your forearms. Like a traditional incline dumbbell press, it also strengthens the upper chest.
But it also uses a lot of triceps, so when you do this exercise, you need to make sure your mind and muscles connection is exceptionally well. So, pay attention to the upper chest at all times during the move.
You’ll need a bench and some dumbbells to do it. Start by lying back on the bench and using a reverse grip to hold both dumbbells up.
Bring the dumbbells down to your lower chest. When you get to the bottom of the movement, rotate the dumbbells so they are in a neutral position. Pause for a second, then push back up and rotate to the opposite grip.
If you do this exercise too quickly, it can hurt your wrists, so go slow and use weights you can handle.
2. Decline Explosive Push-Ups
This is a great alternative to an inclined dumbbell press because you don’t need any equipment. You can do it at home, in the gym, or on the road. All you need is a slightly raised platform to put your feet on.
This move works your whole chest and triceps, giving you all the benefits of an incline press without the dumbbells.
Find a raised platform, bench, step, or chair, and put your feet on the edge of it. Then do a push-up. You should put your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart and use them to support your upper body. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself until your chest is almost touching the floor.
Pause for a second, and then push yourself up hard in one quick motion until your upper body and hands are off the floor. Brace yourself and land softly on the palms of your hands, ready to start the next rep.
If the sudden movement off the ground is too hard for you, you can just do a regular decline push-up with a controlled up and down motion.
3. Decline Push Ups
A great alternative to the incline bench press is the decline pushup. This exercise is similar to the incline press in that it works the upper chest in the same way. You don’t even need any tools to do this at home. To push your body up, all you need is strong upper body muscles.
Put your feet on a table, chair, or bench. The table height shouldn’t be too high. Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart on the floor. Bring your body down by keeping your legs and arms straight. The angle of your elbows should be 45 degrees, and your core should be tight.
Stop at the bottom and go back to the beginning position. Every time you do a push-up, breathe in as you go down and breathe out as you go up. There’s no need to hold your breath.
4. Landmine Chest Press
For this alternative to the inclined bench press, you need a landmine set up and a barbell. This is a contraption that holds a barbell down to the ground. The landmine setups are easy to come by online and pay their dues by allowing you to perform exercises like the landmine chest press.
Set the landmine up with the number of plates you want. Face the landmine and stand up straight in front of it with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Make sure you are far enough from the anchor that the barbell is at an angle.
Grab the end of the barbell with one hand and a neutral grip, which means that the palm of the hand is facing the center or up. Your upper arm with the barbell in it is close to your body. The arm is almost completely bent, and the hand holding the barbell is near your chest.
Move the barbell slowly forward and up until your arm is just a little bit short of being fully stretched.
Control how you move the barbell back to the position of step 2.
One difference between the landmine chest press and the bench press is that you work out one side at a time with the landmine chest press. This can help you avoid or fix imbalances in your muscles. However, since each side needs to be trained separately, you will probably have to work out for longer.
5. Standing Resistance Band Upward Fly
For the next best alternative to the incline bench press, you should buy some good resistance bands. You can also use free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, separate weight plates, and so on. These, however, will work your shoulder muscles more than bands.
Stand firmly on the middle of the resistance band with your feet. Hold both ends of the band in your hands.
During the exercise, keep your body straight and your arms just short of fully extended. Slowly move your hands up and toward the center until they meet in the middle. Move slowly back to where you were in the previous step.
This upward resistance band fly looks a lot like the low pulley cable crossover and is a lot like it, too. The difference is that the upward resistance band fly stops in the middle, while the crossover goes further.
In general, muscle growth is helped by having a larger range of motion.
6. Incline Chest Press With Resistance Bands
Some people don’t have dumbbells at home, but resistance bands are very cheap, so this is a great alternative for those who don’t have much equipment. The movement with the bands completely isolates your upper chest, putting all of the focus on building more muscle in this area and improving the connection between your mind and muscles.
Find a strong door and put the bottom of your anchor resistance band in it. Lock the door to keep this band from moving around. Thread another resistance band through the anchor band and attach handles, if you have any. Holding one end of the band in each hand, pull it up to your shoulders and press it out in front of you.
Wait for a second, and then bring the band back toward your body. You may need to take a small step forward so that the resistance bands stay tight the whole time. Try to do 8 to 12 reps of these, and you should feel it right away in your upper chest.
7. Incline Swiss Ball Dumbbell Press
This is a great way to train your chest if you don’t have a bench. For this exercise, all you need is a swiss ball, which you can buy online and use at home. A swiss ball can be used for many exercises, so you consider investing in one.
The Swiss ball’s small movements will force your body to stay stable and work your core.
First, sit on your Swiss ball and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Slide forward until your hips are just off the floor and your shoulders are braced against the ball.
Keep your elbows at a 60-degree angle and straight up until you can almost fully extend your arms. Wait a moment, and then bring your arms back down to finish the move.
Aim for 8–12 reps per set. If that seems too easy, use heavier dumbbells.
8. Front Raises For Chest With Dumbbells
Front raises are a great alternative to the incline dumbbell press because they focus on the upper part of your pecs and give you a great pump. Keep in mind to focus on form as this variation is different than the one for deltoids.
At first, it can be hard to get the form right, so make sure you start with a weight you can handle until the movement feels natural.
Only your chest should feel it, so if you feel it elsewhere, your form may be off. For this move, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells and a place to do it.
Start by standing up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms straight and bring them up to the middle of your body. When your hands reach your shoulders, pause for a second, and then bring them back down to the starting position. At first, this move can be hard, so you may need to start with a very light weight.
Incline dumbbell presses are an important exercise, but there are many more ways to perform the same motion that will provide you with even greater advantages. We hope that this list of alternative exercises for the incline press has provided you with some inspiration for developing your chest with the workout equipment you already have at home.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.