Should You Ditch the Incline Bench?

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  1. #1
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    Question Should You Ditch the Incline Bench?

    Should You Ditch the Incline Bench?

    The incline press doesn't do what you think it does. Do this exercise instead.

    The Sad Decline of Decline Benches
    It's becoming increasingly rare to see decline benches in the gym. Sure, we get that. People sometimes assume the decline bench is non-essential, or redundant. They believe that while the flat bench works the lower, or sternal part of the pec muscles, the decline also works the same part, albeit at a different angle and to a lesser degree.

    Besides, the decline bench is uncomfortable, what with all that blood flowing to the head, and women often don't like it because they risk flashing all that gravity-induced neathage and buttage and whatnot. If decline benches do get used, it's usually for some sort of bastardized sit-up or crunch where people use entirely too much of their lower-back erectors.

    That's too bad, because an all-but-forgotten 20-year old study shows that the decline is, surprisingly, as good or maybe better than the incline bench for building the upper, or clavicular part, of the pectoralis major, and is better overall for the sternal part of the chest than the incline.

    Do They Do What You Think They Do?
    The motivation of the researchers was simple: Do incline bench press and the decline bench press do what lifters think they do? The answer was a clear no.

    To come to this conclusion, they recruited 15 seasoned lifters and wired them up while they did inclines and declines in the lab. The electrical activity reflected during exercise told the researchers everything they needed to know.

    On the concentric, or lifting part of the movement, the incline bench press stimulated the upper part of the chest muscle a tiny bit more than the decline, but on the eccentric, or lowering part of the movement, the decline stimulated the upper part of the chest a tiny bit more than the incline.

    In short, the effect on the upper pecs was pretty much a wash. However, when it came to activating the lower part of the chest muscle (the main body of the pec), the decline blew away the incline.

    So, contrary to what most lifters assume, the angle of the bench press doesn't much affect the upper pectoral muscles, but the angle definitely affects the lower pec muscles.

    What to Do With This Info
    Based on this study, the decline bench press is superior to the incline when it comes to working the whole pec.

    Additionally, the decline is equal, or perhaps a tad superior (when you take into consideration the greater stimulation on the eccentric part of the movement) to building the upper part of the pec.

    That doesn't mean you should ditch the incline press. It only means that you should pull the decline bench out of the gym dustbin and not only put it back into your routine, but give it just as much respect as the incline.


    Reference:
    "Electromyographical Activity of the Pectoralis Muscle During Incline and Decline Bench Presses." The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research react-text: 55 11(3): August 1997.

  2. #2
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    Incline is my favorite I'd never ditch it, though we know via Imaging that Decline is actually more effective.

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    The decline is better for muscle activation but its just mot practical, I mean no matter how well I breathe with each rep I still come up from the position with a beet red face like I'm gonna strooke out lol

    I agree with you Wes, incline>decline but I still do decline time to time

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    I've done declines and I didn't notice any further upper pec pump/development from it. Incline is the only angle that gives me that high, wide and full look to my chest. Imo flat and incline are essential. You shouldn't need a third pressing angle like decline, maybe just a closegrip or flye.

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    I do both every chest day along with flat.

    Name one ifbb pro that doesnít do incline bench?


    Also, on days I donít do decline I substitute cables to imitate the decline angle... my chest sucks compared to some of you guys but I find these type of articles exhausting...

    oh, something thatís worked for everybody for 1000ís of years is now useless because the internet gurus did a half assed study on it? Puh-fucking-leeeeaazzzzee!
    Last edited by Milford King; 10-08-2019 at 04:38 PM.

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    I use narrow grip incline for high reps at the end of my workout to burn out my triceps. I don't ever use the decline, don't like it.

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    Even the latest EMG studies show a slight decline will actvate more muscle fibers especially in the upper chedt then the incline does.

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    Interesting stuff!! I think i remember Dorian Yates referencing an old study like this. Unfortunately, I injured my left shoulder on the decline bench press doing 315x4 in January of 2018. I am recovering from surgery, finally, that I got in July this year, and i should be able to finally return to the gym after pretty much 2 years In march of next year.

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    I havenít decline benched in years I feel like Iím going to pass out as soon as I get up! I love incline bench I get such a sick pump from it. I recently just started flat benching again I kinda missed it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by love2lift_luke View Post
    Interesting stuff!! I think i remember Dorian Yates referencing an old study like this. Unfortunately, I injured my left shoulder on the decline bench press doing 315x4 in January of 2018. I am recovering from surgery, finally, that I got in July this year, and i should be able to finally return to the gym after pretty much 2 years In march of next year.
    I definitely get a major stretch in my shoulders during declines that doesn't quite feel right.

    I understand that on paper declines supposedly work the entire chest including upper, but in reality I just don't see it. You're pressing from your lower chest how is that working the upper pec? With inclines I actually get an upper chest pump so i think I'll go with that instead of some emg study.

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    Quote Originally Posted by love2lift_luke View Post
    Interesting stuff!! I think i remember Dorian Yates referencing an old study like this. Unfortunately, I injured my left shoulder on the decline bench press doing 315x4 in January of 2018. I am recovering from surgery, finally, that I got in July this year, and i should be able to finally return to the gym after pretty much 2 years In march of next year.
    Do you feel like you'd've avoided the injury with DBs instead?

    I gave up BB bench anything (well, except rarely) due to all the horror stories. Might've been Yates himself with that advice (Blood & Guts videos), can't recall.

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    Not sure if my form sucks for BB incline but it sets my shoulders on fire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A.font401 View Post
    I havenít decline benched in years I feel like Iím going to pass out as soon as I get up! I love incline bench I get such a sick pump from it. I recently just started flat benching again I kinda missed it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I like the decline hammer strength

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Biggc1 View Post
    I like the decline hammer strength

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    I used that machine as well and it's great.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Biggc1 View Post
    I like the decline hammer strength

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    I use that all the time but I wonít decline Bench ever.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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