View Full Version : What's the difference between flat, incline, and decline bench presses?


Master Moron
Tue, May 23rd, 2006, 12:31 AM
Do the different types of bench presses work different parts of the chest? If so, which ones work which part?

steven
Tue, May 23rd, 2006, 12:47 AM
incline works the top, flat works the mid, decline works the bottom

JoeSchmo
Tue, May 23rd, 2006, 07:59 AM
incline works the top, flat works the mid, decline works the bottom

Yeah, this question always opens up a can of worms. Some suggest that you can't get differential fiber stimulation via the angle, meaning that specific areas can't be targeted. I've never seen concrete proof either way, so I continue to operate under the assumption that they can be targeted. Even worst case scenerio, I am still providing multiple modes of stimulation to encourage growth and strength, even if I am not differentially targeting specific areas of the muscle itself....so I don't worry too much about this debate.

But to answer the poster, Steven is correct -- the general wisdom is that incline targets upper pecs, flat targets mid-pecs, and decline targets lower pec area.

jwdiho
Tue, May 23rd, 2006, 02:18 PM
http://nsca.allenpress.com/nscaonline/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1519%2F1533-4287(1997)011%3C0163:EAOTPM%3E2.3.CO%3B2

But I think the difference was fairly small at a few percentage points.

Hort
Tue, May 23rd, 2006, 02:48 PM
Yeah, this question always opens up a can of worms. Some suggest that you can't get differential fiber stimulation via the angle, meaning that specific areas can't be targeted. I've never seen concrete proof either way, so I continue to operate under the assumption that they can be targeted. Even worst case scenerio, I am still providing multiple modes of stimulation to encourage growth and strength, even if I am not differentially targeting specific areas of the muscle itself....so I don't worry too much about this debate.

But to answer the poster, Steven is correct -- the general wisdom is that incline targets upper pecs, flat targets mid-pecs, and decline targets lower pec area.


Right- and to add- they each target other muscles differently, recruiting the tris, and other supporters a little differently.

Cab00se
Wed, May 24th, 2006, 10:13 AM
Conventional wisdom supports that incline presses focus on upper chest development, while decline presses focus on lower. I haven't found this to be the case with me personally, at least as far as incline presses are concerned.

Upper chest development has always been a sticking point with me, and it wasn't until I abandoned all notions of targeting specific regions of my chest that I finally saw some definition in the striations just beneath my collar bones.

My new chest routine focuses on exercises that result in maximum contraction of the whole muscle, and incline presses just don't do that for me. They tend to work my anterior delts more than anything else. Maybe that's just me, though.

GRCRYSTYK
Wed, May 24th, 2006, 01:46 PM
Conventional wisdom supports that incline presses focus on upper chest development, while decline presses focus on lower. I haven't found this to be the case with me personally, at least as far as incline presses are concerned.

Upper chest development has always been a sticking point with me, and it wasn't until I abandoned all notions of targeting specific regions of my chest that I finally saw some definition in the striations just beneath my collar bones.

My new chest routine focuses on exercises that result in maximum contraction of the whole muscle, and incline presses just don't do that for me. They tend to work my anterior delts more than anything else. Maybe that's just me, though.

This is interesting, as I'm not an expert, but have felt the same about incline,...Everybody is built a bit differently, but I too have felt like incline bench seemed to almost be more of a shoulder lift, than a chest lift. That's even at a pretty low incline. I'm still doing them, but sometimes it just doesn't feel like I'm working the chest,...

>>>--->

Master Moron
Thu, May 25th, 2006, 05:20 PM
Hmmm...you know, I didn't even know I HAD a muscle directly below my collar bone. It's kind of strange to talk about upper chest, lower, chest, and mid chest, as looking at my chest it's hard to determine where the upper, mid, and lower parts begin. I mean, I can't imagine what someone would look like who had a huge lower chest but small upper chest.

Anyway, is there any way to target inner chest and outer chest? I notice that my outer chest seems to be more defined than my inner chest.

StoneCold
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 12:02 AM
The decline bench press is a 45 degree angle, your legs being up at the top, and your head near the ground, right??

jaydfwtx
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 01:04 AM
The decline bench press is a 45 degree angle, your legs being up at the top, and your head near the ground, right??

I've never seen one with such a large angle...

Monkey0ne
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 04:02 AM
The decline bench press is a 45 degree angle, your legs being up at the top, and your head near the ground, right??

45 degrees does sound a bit extreme, the article in the link posted by jwdiho mentioned a -15 degree below horizontal but I'm not sure if that's a "standard". But to answer your question, yes. Decline is when your chest area is lower than your legs.

Monkey0ne
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 04:15 AM
...Anyway, is there any way to target inner chest and outer chest? I notice that my outer chest seems to be more defined than my inner chest.

I'm not sure if there's any truth to this or not but I was always told that dumbell flys help target the inner pectorial area. Someone also told me a closer hand grip on the bar during bench press exercises help.

Of the two, I'd lean more towards the flys...

mo0fer
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 08:39 AM
they emphasize certain areas of the chest

RTE
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 11:39 AM
When chest is discussed I always try to point one to Milos Sarvec's video (http://thefitshow.com/week3/milos_chest_med.htm), it is free. In fact look at all of his (http://bodybuilding.com/fun/fitshow.htm)that was shown on fit show.

Nearly all competing bodybuilders believe the different presses affect different parts of the pec muscles, as I do. People that hook up wires to muscles and some personal trainers who have never competed say differently. :lol:

BreakingPoint
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 12:35 PM
I just do whatever feels comfortable, I hate inclines, I also felt they were more of a front delt exercise. I just do Parallel-bar dips and bench presses (elbows tucked, to lower chest), after I started just these two, I felt it throughout my entire chest, oddly though I felt it more in my upper chest than any part but these two are said to be for targeting lower pecks.

Omaha
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 03:19 PM
Declines are a waste of time. Flat isn't bad, but Incline is where the real development is at.

Find your proper angle, and you are off to the races.




I'm not sure if there's any truth to this or not but I was always told that dumbell flys help target the inner pectorial area. Someone also told me a closer hand grip on the bar during bench press exercises help.
Of the two, I'd lean more towards the flys...

Flys will work the upper right and left muscle areas that connect to the shoulder area. The middle is worked, but not as much. Also depending on high low or mid range fly you could hit other areas. But it isn't really worth much thought, the point is to do what ever you like the most.

A closer grip will work the triceps mainly. As many chest exercises do.

jessie
Thu, June 22nd, 2006, 04:41 PM
I'm not sure if there's any truth to this or not but I was always told that dumbell flys help target the inner pectorial area. Someone also told me a closer hand grip on the bar during bench press exercises help.

Of the two, I'd lean more towards the flys...

Dumbell flyes target more of the outer pec because their is not enough tension at the top of the movement to fully stimulate the inner portion, for this try using pecdecs or cable flyes for their constant tension. This is just my opinion like others have already said targeting different portions of the chest is a touchy subject.

Gordo
Fri, June 23rd, 2006, 06:42 AM
Declines are a waste of time. Flat isn't bad, but Incline is where the real development is at.

Bold statement, but I disagree.



On an unrelated/related note....just out of interest:

IEMG max motor-unit activation

Exercise/% EMG Muscle Stimulation

Pectoralis major:
Decline dumbbell bench press - 93
Decline bench press (Olympic bar) - 89
Push-ups between benches - 88
Flat dumbbell bench press - 87
Flat bench press (Olympic bar) - 85
Flat dumbbell flys - 84

Pectoralis minor:
Incline dumbbell bench press - 91
Incline bench press (Olympic bar) - 85
Incline dumbbell flys - 83
Incline bench press (Smith machine) - 81

Omaha
Fri, June 23rd, 2006, 06:58 AM
Ahh the infamous EMG readings. Of coarse if you are using a higher percentage of muscle fibers to perform an exercise...that would mean they are the most effective...right??

Not so much.

The EMG ratings don't always translate to increased strength. Such as the relationship between incline bench press and flat. Either one ups the other's numbers. Flat won't be doing that.


Besides, (http://www.hsn.com/cnt/prod/zoom/large_images.aspx?main_img=572200&alt_img=572200_alt1|572200_alt2&lg=True&m=True&webp_id=2218980) EMG isn't the silver bullet of weight training.

Gordo
Fri, June 23rd, 2006, 08:36 AM
Besides, (http://www.hsn.com/cnt/prod/zoom/large_images.aspx?main_img=572200&alt_img=572200_alt1|572200_alt2&lg=True&m=True&webp_id=2218980) EMG isn't the silver bullet of weight training.

Never said it was....it's just another training tool, nothing more nothing less. You'd be fool hardy to dump all your eggs in one basket. It would also be pretty foolhardy to ignore those readings altogether.

Not quite sure why you are showing an TENS EMS machine.... :confused: for rehab, it has purpose but no, I don't believe you can sit there and stimulate quality hypertrophy with a device like that. EMG (electromyography) is a little different.

zenpharaohs
Fri, June 23rd, 2006, 09:12 AM
Anyway, is there any way to target inner chest and outer chest? I notice that my outer chest seems to be more defined than my inner chest.

Try changing your upper back work. The shape of your chest is affected by your upper back strength.

Master Moron
Tue, June 27th, 2006, 12:24 AM
Try changing your upper back work. The shape of your chest is affected by your upper back strength.

Interesting. I did not know that. What exercises would you recommend?