The bench press has been crowned as the king of chest exercises, but is that strictly designated for just the flat bench press or does that include the incline bench press? The ‘incline bench press vs flat bench press’, we will be discussing the key differences between the two and does one work better than the other.
The bench press has always been a great exercise for developing the chest because it is a compound exercise, meaning that it will put more than one muscle group under stress at a time.
The bench press will work the overall chest, but it will also put other muscle groups into play such as the lat muscles, shoulders, traps and triceps, so if you are looking for a good all-around exercise to develop the chest, the bench press is an excellent one to get moving you forward.
Another advantage when doing the bench press is you can move more weight around as compared to other exercises such as the dumbbell benches and dumbbell flyes. There are many other great exercises that will definitely stimulate the chest muscles such as cable exercises and weight machines.
But when it comes down to it, there is one single most engaging exercise that will pack on the muscle for the chest and that is the bench press along with other variations of the bench such as the incline bench press and decline bench press.
What are the key differences?
One of the big differences between the flat
bench press and the inclined bench press is the flat bench press will work the overall chest but the inclined benches will work more of the upper pectoral region as well as more shoulders come into play when doing incline presses.
Another advantage with flat bench presses is they will work more of your overall chest area and you will be able to press more weight with the flat bench press. So if your goal is to increase your strength in the bench press, your best bet would be to concentrate on working the flat bench press.
If your upper pectorals are lagging behind, then it would be a good idea to concentrate more on doing incline benches since this exercise puts more stress and directs more attention to your upper pectorals.
Doing Incline benches, you won’t be able to press as much weight with them as you would with the flat bench press, but when performing the incline bench press, you are basically following the same principle as the flat bench press.
You will keep your feet flat on the floor, keep your lower back arched with your shoulders pressed into the weight bench, keep your hands at a slightly wider grip than your shoulder width with the palms of your hands facing forward and your elbows back.
Does one exercise work better than the other?
If you were to ask if one exercise works better than the other, or if the flat bench press works better than the incline bench press, it would basically come down to what your goals are and where you need to direct the majority of your attention.
If your goal is to increase your bench press strength for power lifting competitions, I would suggest that you will need to direct the majority of your time and the most of your energy toward pressing more weight on the flat bench press.
With the flat bench press, you are naturally able to press more weight than you are with the incline presses and the bench press will work the general overall area of your chest, but if you are seeking to build strength for your chest, ‘hands down’, the flat bench press is the exercise that you will need to be dedicating your time to.
This is not to say that you should completely avoid working the incline presses into your schedule, but simply stating that you will need to put your greater efforts into the flat bench press and make sure that you are working the flat bench press at the beginning of your chest workouts when your energy levels are at their highest.
If your goal dosen’t revolve around building strength but more for developing a proportionate physique, then you will need to spend more time working on specific exercises that bring up other more targeted areas like your upper pectorals where the flat benches can work the overall chest but the incline bench presses will more directly target your upper chest region.
Working with decline benches
Working with decline benches is pretty much the same scenario as doing incline presses. Decline presses you won’t be able to lift as much weight as you would with the standard flat bench press, but the advantage when doing decline presses is you will be working more of the lower pectorals.
This is also an excellent exercise if your goal is to build a portionate frame and the lower portion of your chest is lagging behind, then it might be a good idea to incorporate the decline bench press into your workout to bring out any areas that need more development.
Incorporating other key exercises into the picture
As important as the bench press, incline presses and decline presses are, it is still necessary to engage your workouts with other exercises where you can stimulate more of a wide range of angles targeting your chest muscles at different angles and stimulating further growth.
Along with following a structured weight training program including the flat bench press and incline bench press, it is also a good idea to include decline dumbell presses, dumbbell flat bench presses and incline dumbbell benches to stimulate a wide range and a fuller stretch in the exercises.
When you incorporate dumbbell benches into your workouts, you naturally will not be able to lift nearly as much weight as you will with a barbell, but using dumbbells in your workouts is essential for developing a full, well-rounded development for your chest because you are targeting a wider range using more exercises and digging deep into the muscle tissue by using exercises that allow for a fuller stretch such as using dumbbells.
Incorporating decline dumbbell benches is an additional way to stimulate further growth into your lower pectoral region, especially if your lower chest may be lagging behind, you can even get a fuller stretch if you include dumbbell flyes in your routine.
Create yourself a training program
We have covered much area thus far in this article talking about exercises such as flat, incline and decline benches with a barbell and dumbbells and the possibility of incorporating dumbbell flyes for each of these positions including flat, incline and decline dumbbell flyes.
Now comes the part of creating a training program out of these exercises listed above as well as an arsenal of other exercises including bench dips, bar dips, cable exercises and weight machines.
When it comes to creating your own chest training program, with so many exercises to choose from, where do you begin when setting up your own training program?
Basically it will come down to what your goals are and if you have any specific chest areas that may be lagging behind and need to be more directly targeted.
Going for strength
If your main objective is to develop a strong chest, naturally you will be targeting your chest workouts toward building strength which will revolve around the standard flat bench press using a barbell.
When setting up this type of program, you will want to start your chest workout with the bench press when you have more energy and follow up that exercise by doing incline benches or possibly decline benches alternating the two periodically in your chest workout or you can follow up the bench press with dumbbell benches.
Going for muscle size and proportion
If your main objective is to build muscle size and to keep your muscle development proportionate, it still may be a good idea to start out your chest workouts benching with a barbell incorporating heavier weight when your energy levels are at their highest.
If you are suffering from a lack of development in your upper or lower pectorals, you may want to start out your workout with incline or decline benches when your energy levels are at their highest and then follow up with the flat bench press.
There are basically no set rules stating that you always need to do your chest workouts the same way or that you always need to start out doing the standard barbell benches first, whether if they are with the flat bench, incline or decline.
It can be a great idea to frequently change your exercises around where you might go in the gym and start out with incline dumbbell benches or maybe flat bench dumbbell flyes first in your workout and not even include the standard flat bench press in your workout.
The most important thing is that you are putting your chest under the stress needed to stimulate muscle growth and see muscular development, and to keep your chest development in check to see if there are areas that may be lagging behind, then you will need to incorporate the exercises into your program that will bring up those lagging areas.
Overall chest development
If your main objective is to work your chest muscles and obtain the greatest variety of exercises in your routine for maximal development, you have a very wide arsenal of chest training exercises to choose from.
Then you can always go for a wider range of stimulation in your chest muscles by including cable exercises such as the cable crossovers and a variety of weight machines such as chest press machines and pec deck machines.
Now matter what your goal is for chest training, whether it be for strength, muscle size or for overall development and tone, it is always a good idea to include a variety of exercises into your chest training routine for full development and pump.
This article has covered a wide variety of chest training exercises other than what was first outlined as the comparison between the flat bench press and incline bench press. The difference between the flat and incline bench press basically comes down to what your goals are and the type of chest development that you are looking for.
As with training any other muscle group, you will have your key exercise or exercises for making the best progress for strength and size such as the standard bench press for chest, but it will also be necessary to include a wide array of other exercises for better muscle stimulation.
I think that the exercises I have outlined in this article should be a pretty good guide for you to get started on setting up your own chest training program, dependent on what your goals are and where you want to take your progress.
With any good exercise program, you will always need to follow a healthy diet and it can also be a good idea to supplement your diet for best results.
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