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FieldEngineer
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Member since Jan 2015
650 posts

Flat vs Incline Bench
I just have flat bench in my program at the moment. I'd like to experiment with incline bench. Is there a preferred way to do this? Alternate them? Just replace flat bench for a while? Should I expect to be able to press more, less, or similar weights?

TIA, you folks have been super helpful!


lob1284
LSU Fan
Houma by birth
Member since Mar 2006
4592 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
Give some details about your current program to provide context. You’ll get better advice.

ETA: you’ll definitely push less weight on incline.
This post was edited on 6/8 at 10:14 pm


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TBoy
Notre Dame Fan
Kalamazoo
Member since Dec 2007
16956 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
I have a commercial bench that adjusts quickly and I sometimes switch from flat to incline while working out. But truth be told, most days I don’t use the incline. You can do everything you need to do with a good flat bench. I guess if you are sculpting or something you can isolate some muscles better, but I don’t see it as essential.
This post was edited on 6/8 at 10:22 pm


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Junky
Valparaiso Fan
Louisiana
Member since Oct 2005
6759 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
Hits it differently. Do you “need” one? No. But incline has value.

I have the ~$30 Amazon flat bench which is surprisingly awesome. I’m about to get dip bars, then a trap bar, then I may look at upgrading the bench. You can hit the incline via push-ups with varied difficulty by being weighted or closing the hand position.


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whiskey over ice
Texas Fan
Member since Sep 2020
702 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
I personally would try to have programmed a flat (or dip or decline), an incline, and a fly of some sort. Aesthetically, incline press fills in the upper chest under the collar bone and gives you more of that plate of armor look instead of saggy tits look.

Here you can see my upper pecs filling out the area between my collar bone and lower pecs

(Me working out during quarantine)

Your routine could look something like these:

Flat barbell (4-8 rep range)
Incline dumbbell (8-12 range)
Machine fly (10-15 range)

Or

Incline barbell (4-8)
Machine decline (8-12)
Cable crossover (10-15)

Really depends on number of workouts a week, frequency of chest, and if you’re trying to specialize other muscles though. You might need to do more or less than this. If you’re only doing flat barbell right now you could swap incline barbell for it. I’ve seen several programs that use incline almost exclusively with no flat.

I like having a lower rep compound to maximize strength, a slightly higher compound that you can safely take to failure, and then an arm adduction at high reps to get a pump.
This post was edited on 6/9 at 7:28 am


DeafJam73
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Sep 2010
16926 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
I do them as an accessory on bench day.


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Homey the Clown
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Member since Feb 2009
4719 posts
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re: Flat vs Incline Bench
When I'm doing my typical "bro split" workout routines, chest day would go as follows:

Flat Bench Barbell Press
Incline Bench Dumbbell Press
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flies
Incline Bench Dumbbell Flies
Hammer Press Machine
Incline Hammer Press Machine
Decline Bench Barbell Press

The order of these exercises varies from week to week, and ideally I would switch up from barbell to dumbbell presses from week to week, but I cannot do flat bench or decline bench dumbbell press unless someone hands the dumbbells to me because I have a tailbone issue, and cannot roll back on my tailbone holding 170-180 pounds of dumbbells.

The angle of the bench will determine the area of the chest you are targeting. Incline hits the top, flat hits the mid, decline hits the lower. Don't go too much of an angle on incline as it will begin to work your shoulders more than your chest. From what I have read, and from my experience, ~30 degree angle is all the angle you need on incline.


lob1284
LSU Fan
Houma by birth
Member since Mar 2006
4592 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
quote:

Don't go too much of an angle on incline as it will begin to work your shoulders more than your chest. From what I have read, and from my experience, ~30 degree angle is all the angle you need on incline


This is good advice.


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Dixie Normus
New Orleans Saints Fan
Earth
Member since Sep 2013
2042 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
I think they're better as an accessory rather than a primary lift, but that can change depending on goals. For pure aesthetics, you'll probably get more out of incline for the upper chest.


Mo Jeaux
LSU Fan
NYC
Member since Aug 2008
46008 posts
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re: Flat vs Incline Bench
quote:

Here you can see my upper pecs


You look awesome.


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DeafJam73
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Sep 2010
16926 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
Personally, I don’t think barbell pressing is ideal for developing the chest. Incline or flat bench, the triceps are the main movers. The chest does get some work, but it’s limited. It really all depends on the trainee’s goal. If he’s a powerlifter, he has to train the bench. If he wants to develop strength, the bench press is good, but I would also throw in dumbbell presses as an accessory to really help develop the chest. If all he cares about are aesthetics, I personally don’t think the bench press has enough carry over for purely aesthetics. Dumbbells really allow you to squeeze your pecs at the top of the lift. I train bench press because I just enjoy doing it. But, in all honesty, it doesn’t really have much carry over to anything except for my own ego, because I don’t ever compete in the bench press. I do pec decks and dumbbell press to really push blood into my pecs.


DeafJam73
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Sep 2010
16926 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
quote:

(Me working out during quarantine)


Long Beach in the 1980s must be a great way to escape the pandemic.


Homey the Clown
LSU Fan
Member since Feb 2009
4719 posts
 Online 

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
I find that I build more strength doing barbell presses, which then allow for heavier dumbbell presses. I would not restrict myself to just barbell or just dumbbell presses. I would work them both into the routine in order to get the benefits of both.

And while barbell presses do work the triceps (as do dumbbell presses), I think that it is secondary to the chest for that exercise, or at least from what I feel after a workout. My chest is typically more sore than my triceps after a good press workout, which in my mind is an indication of what muscle group was worked harder.

Now, if you narrow your grip and do close grip barbell presses, that will absolutely destroy your triceps. Probably one of my favorite tricep workouts to really get those bad boys poppin.


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FieldEngineer
LSU Fan
LP trash
Member since Jan 2015
650 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
quote:

It really all depends on the trainee’s goal.


I’m just an old guy trying to have a better body, but strength is nice too.

For now, I will stick with flat bench. If progress slows down, I might replace it with inclines for a few months then switch back.

The comments about dumbbell work is interesting. I may need to add some pec fly work to my routine.


Homey the Clown
LSU Fan
Member since Feb 2009
4719 posts
 Online 

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
quote:

I might replace it with inclines for a few months then switch back.


If I were you, I would switch them up more frequently than this. More like, every week, or every other week...


FieldEngineer
LSU Fan
LP trash
Member since Jan 2015
650 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
I’d be down for that. Would help to make things a bit more interesting too.


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LSUAlum2001
LSU Fan
Stavro Mueller Beta
Member since Aug 2003
44665 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
quote:

Flat vs Incline Bench


I'll do a 3x8 Incline Bench at max weight on Wednesday. It's my secondary chest lift on Wednesday.

Yesterday I finished at 195x8. Hoping to finish at 200-205 next week and 205-210 the next.

Monday's secondary lift is 3x8 incline DB pullovers at max weight and Friday's is 3x8 weighted dips at max weight.

My 3x per week chest routine only has 24 total working sets.

Mon: Flat 5x8, Incline DB Pullover 3x8
Wed: Flat 5x1, Incline BB Bench 3x8
Fri: Fat 5x6, Weighted Dips 3x8

High Intensity at Max Weight, Low Volume
This post was edited on 6/10 at 11:19 am


Rize
Texas Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Sep 2011
11234 posts
 Online 

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
quote:

I'll do a 3x8 Incline Bench at max weight on Wednesday. It's my secondary chest lift on Wednesday.

Yesterday I finished at 195x8. Hoping to finish at 200-205 next week and 205-210 the next.

Monday's secondary lift is 3x8 incline DB pullovers at max weight and Friday's is 3x8 weighted dips at max weight.

My 3x per week chest routine only has 24 total working sets.

Mon: Flat 5x8, Incline DB Pullover 3x8
Wed: Flat 5x1, Incline BB Bench 3x8
Fri: Fat 5x6, Weighted Dips 3x8

High Intensity at Max Weight, Low Volume


I hate incline. Usually do 4 sets of 10 at 155 just to check the box.


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20
632627
Southern Cal Fan
LA
Member since Dec 2011
10697 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
I believe incline bench also activates/involves the delts more so than flat.


Powerman
LSU Fan
Member since Jan 2004
149515 posts

re: Flat vs Incline Bench
Yeah. It's why I do shoulders and chest on the same day. I honestly don't see why anyone wouldn't do it on the same day unless you have a really hardcore advanced routine


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