If your goal is to build a big, muscular chest, it’s hard to beat the incline press. This old-school move demands a good range of motion and can help give your entire chest a powerful, sculpted look when done properly. The bench press may be unsurpassed as a strength-building move, but if you want your chest to look great, you’d be wise to toss some incline pesses into the mix.

That said, which version of this indispensible move should you choose? The tried-and-true barbell? The dumbbell version? Or should you hit up a machine like the popular Hammer Strength option? You see huge dudes using that one all the time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good fit for your workouts. 

To help guide you, we hit up Angel Poli, creator of the MetPro coaching app and owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, CA, for his thoughts on the benefits and drawbacks of each variation of this classic move.

“They’re all great exercises,” he says. “Which one you choose comes down to your goals, and to the risks you’re willing to tolerate to reach them.”

Below, we drill down into the pros and cons of each incline variation so you can approach your next chest day armed with a plan.


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