Gym-goers seem to be constantly looking for new ways to enhance the weight they can lift on the flat bench. Because the incline bench and the flat bench have so many parallels, it’s typical for weightlifters to wonder if the incline bench has any carryover to the flat bench.
Flat benching is aided by incline benching. This exercise strengthens the same major movers as the flat bench, assists in overcoming sticking areas during the bench press movement, and provides different chest stimulation to help break through strength plateaus.
If any of these advantages sound like weightlifting jargon to you right now, don’t worry. Below, we’ll go through each of these advantages in greater detail. Continue reading to learn how to include the incline bench into your workout for the best results on the flat bench, as well as other exercises that may help you improve your flat bench numbers.
Bench presses with an incline
A clavicular and sternocostal head make up the pectoralis major muscle (upper and lower pec).
The incline press is used to concentrate extra work on the upper pecs. The primary benefit of incline presses is that they strengthen the upper region of the pectoral muscles.
Because it’s similar to a shoulder press, you activate your shoulders more when the bench is positioned at an inclination (15 to 30 degrees). This exercise also puts less stress on your rotator cuff, which is a typical region for injury when utilizing a flat bench.
An incline chest press, on the other hand, has several drawbacks. Because the incline chest press places greater stress on the upper pec, it develops that muscle group more, whereas the flat bench builds mass over the entire pec.
At this angle, you’re also actively using your deltoids (shoulders), therefore you don’t want to work on them the next day. You never want to overtrain your muscles, which might happen if you work out the same muscle group on consecutive days. Overuse of any muscle can result in injury.
Step-by-step incline chest press
Sit on an incline bench and relax. Make sure the inclination of the bench is between 15 and 30 degrees. Anything above 30 degrees primarily engages the anterior deltoids (shoulders). Your grip should be at a 90-degree angle between your elbows.
Wrap your fingers around the bar with your palms facing away from you, using a shoulder-width grip. With your arms locked, lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over your head.
Slowly lower the bar until it is an inch from from your chest while you breathe in. The bar should remain parallel to your upper chest the entire time. Your arms should be tucked into your sides at a 45-degree angle.
At the bottom of this action, hold this position for one count before pushing the bar back up to your starting position with one huge breath. Lock your arms, hold them in place, and slowly lower yourself.
Place the bar back on the rack after 12 repetitions. Complete five sets, increasing the weight after each one.
Muscles Involved in Bench Pressing
Check out my complete guide to the Muscles Used For The Bench Press for a more in-depth look at the anatomy and biomechanics. It will go over how grip breadth, bench angle, and range of motion affect muscle activation.
With that in mind, here are the quick points you should be aware of:
- The pecs, shoulders, and triceps are the main muscular groups in the bench press.
- The pecs are most activated in the lowest range, when the bar is on your chest.
- The front of the shoulders (anterior deltoids) are primarily active in the mid-range.
- The triceps are most stimulated at the top of the range, when the weight is close to lock-out.
- The more you grab the barbell with a wide grip, the more your pecs are engaged.
- The triceps are engaged more when you grip the barbell narrower.
- Your shoulders appear to be similarly active regardless of your grip.
- Your shoulders will be engaged more if your touch-point is lower on your chest.
- This post will not go into how to choose the best bench press grip or touch-point. However, I recommend that you read my articles on Bench Press Grip and Bench Pressing With Long Arms.
Flat bench presses
The upper and lower pectoralis major muscles make up the pectoralis major. Flat benching evenly stresses both heads, making it the finest exercise for total pec development.
In comparison to your usual activities, the flat bench press is a lot more natural and fluid movement. However, just like the incline chest press, there are some cons.
“I don’t even include flat benching in my pec program because I believe it stresses the front deltoids far too much to be a useful exercise for building the chest,” famous bodybuilder Dorian Yates said.
The flat bench press also puts the pec tendons in a vulnerable position due to the angle. The majority of shoulder problems and overuse issues are caused by flat benching. Many torn pecs in bodybuilding have been the result of heavy flat bench presses.”
As a personal trainer, I’ve noticed that shoulder injuries are the most common among guys. The following are examples of common errors:
- not having anybody to adequately spot them
- not being able to rerack the bar without assistance,
- an uneven grip
- having a more dominant side lifting most of the weight, meaning they were probably at a tilt
As with any kind of press, you really need to warm up your chest and shoulders properly by using resistance bands and by stretching. To limit the risk of injury during flat benching, make sure you have full shoulder mobility and scapular stability.
If the flat bench exercise causes you any difficulty, you could try the incline bench exercise or use dumbbells instead.
In the end, it’s a matter of personal preference and objectives. The flat bench press develops your pecs more effectively.
The incline press, according to many trainers, is better for your pecs, shoulders, and rotator cuffs. With so many exercises to strengthen your chest, the chest press with either bench will be effective.
Step-by-step flat bench chest press
- So that your neck and head are supported, lie down on the flat bench. With your feet flat on the floor, your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. If your back starts to hurt, consider putting your feet on the bench rather than the floor. Place your body beneath the bar so that the bar is parallel to your chest. With your elbows flexed at a 90-degree angle, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Grasp the bar with your fingers wrapped around it, palms facing away from you.
- Exhale, tighten your core, and use your pectoral muscles to lift the barbell off the rack and toward the ceiling. Squeeze your chest while straightening your arms in a contracted position.
- Inhale and slowly lower the barbell to your chest, approximately one inch away. You should take twice as long to lower the barbell as you did to raise it.
- Using your pectoral muscles, explode back up to your starting posture. Do 12 reps, then increase the weight for the next set.
- Five sets are required.
The Benefits of an Incline Bench Compared to a Flat Bench
The incline bench has proven to be a great tool for gym-goers looking for a different upper-body workout to augment their flat bench regimen. We briefly discussed these reasons above, but now it’s time to examine each of these advantages individually in order to fully comprehend them.
Uses the same main movers as the Flat Bench.
The fact that the incline bench utilizes all of the same basic muscles as the flat bench is one of the most notable reasons why it could benefit the flat bench. This is a big advantage, especially considering that the flat bench is a complex exercise that works a variety of muscles.
To refresh your memory, the key movers in the flat bench are:
- pectorals (chest)
- deltoids (shoulders)
- triceps (arms)
Because the incline bench is also a complex activity, executing it on a regular basis benefits all of these muscles.
The fact that you got these muscle benefits from an incline bench doesn’t mean they just apply to incline benches! They apply to all upper-body pressing actions, including the flat bench.
Other exercises, such as the overhead tricep extension or the chest fly, can only engage one of these major movers, not all of them.
Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great. Isolation movements have a place and time. Compound movements, on the other hand, are the way to go when you want to kill numerous birds with one stone.
Nobody has time to go to the gym every week for three to four hours for chest day. This is why compound exercises like the incline bench are so useful. They allow you to engage numerous muscle groups at the same time and get the most out of your workout time.
As a result, the incline bench not only strengthens the main muscles used on the flat bench, but it also does so quickly.
Helps to Get Rid of Stuck Points on the Flat Bench
Now that we’ve established that the principal movers in both the flat and incline benches are the same, it’s worth noting that the muscles are loaded slightly differently due to the tiny angle difference in the bench.
The upper pectoral muscles and anterior deltoids get a larger workout on the incline bench because lifters are more vertically oriented (source).
Because many lifters struggle with sticking areas throughout their bench press movement due to underdeveloped upper pectoral muscles and anterior deltoids, this is a critical observation to note.
For those unfamiliar with resistance training, the term “sticking point” refers to the point in a lifter’s range of motion where the weight feels the heaviest (source). For example, during the bench press, a lifter may hit a sticking point halfway through their range of motion, causing the barbell to come to a complete stop for all practical purposes.
If you’ve ever hit a wall in the middle of a bench press, it’s not because of your chest strength. The activation of the chest gives place to the activation of the anterior deltoids around halfway through the bench press motion. As a result, you should lay the majority of your responsibility on the weakness of your anterior deltoids.
Fortunately, because the anterior deltoids are extensively engaged on the incline bench, it’s ideal for doing precisely that.
Simply said, using the incline bench to develop your anterior deltoids will improve the fluidity of your bench press motion. Sticking spots are opponents you don’t want to face as a flat bencher, so start incline benching!
Changing up your chest exercises can help you break through a strength plateau.
Despite the fact that the incline bench and flat bench have many essential qualities, the chest responds to the stimuli offered by these two workouts in distinct ways.
This is significant because as lifters practice the same exercise over and over again, they will observe diminishing benefits. The body eventually recognizes and adjusts to the stimulus offered by this identical workout. A lifter’s strength and muscular mass will improve only slightly until the body has fully accustomed to the workout.
Most lifters experience this phenomenon around the 16-week mark (source). As a result, even if the workout is the flat bench, it should be altered on a regular basis.
Because novice lifters’ bodies are so receptive to any exercise stimulus, they can get away with not changing up their workout program. Advanced lifters are not so fortunate, since they must train considerably more intelligently.
If you’re an advanced lifter who has reached a strength plateau on the bench press, it might be time to switch things up with the incline bench.
This may be difficult, especially if you’ve already built a strong foundation on the flat bench, but it may be worthwhile in the long term. Regrettably, it’s all too easy to keep doing what we’re good at. It’s more difficult to step outside of our comfort zones and try new, untested exercises.
Should You Use an Incline Bench Instead of a Flat Bench?
The incline bench has already shown to be a reliable complement to the flat bench. However, many lifters make the mistake of carrying this concept too far and omitting the flat bench from their exercise routine.
If you’re a novice, I wouldn’t even think of switching from the flat bench to the incline bench until much later on. For advanced lifters, however, switching the flat bench with an incline bench may provide a temporary benefit.
Before you do that, you should modify other components of your routine than the flat bench exercise. These are some of the features of the workout:
- Simply said, rep tempo refers to the rate at which you perform a lift. To get their reps out of the way, many lifters complete the bench press as rapidly as possible. You gain greater control over the barbell and drive your upper body to stay active for a longer length of time by consciously slowing down your repetitions.
- Rest Intervals – Changing the length of your rest periods between sets can have a big impact on how well you can perform on the flat bench. If you have a terrible habit of procrastinating between sets, gradually lower your rest intervals to test your body’s ability to recover rapidly.
- Scheme of Sets and Reps – Lifters frequently fall into the habit of repeating the same set and rep strategy week after week. Although it’s a good idea to stick to a routine, there will be instances when you should deviate from it. Don’t be scared to try something different than the conventional 410 (sets x reps), such a 48, 55, or 320.
Training Volume – Make a conscious effort to increase the total amount of bench press work you accomplish during your session over time. This entails gradually increasing the number of sets or reps in your workout. The better the results, the more work you put in.
Weight – Although this is the most obvious training component on the list, it is nonetheless vital. Simply said, if you want to improve your bench press, you must increase the weight you use.
Even anything as minor as adjusting your workout time might have an impact on your bench press performance. Trial and error is the only method to discover the actual degree of how these variables affect you.
When trying to enhance your bench press, exercise replacement can be advantageous, but it should only be utilized as a last choice. It should go without saying, but if you want to improve your flat bench, you must flat bench!
Only after you’ve tried all of the above factors and topped out on the flat bench should you move on to other exercises.
If you go this way, keep in mind that you may end up gaining stronger on the incline bench at the price of your flat bench, especially if you’re a more skilled lifter. So proceed with caution, but don’t be hesitant to experiment with various workout routines.
Should an Incline Bench be used instead of a Flat Bench?
The incline bench has already shown to be a useful addition to the flat bench. However, many lifters make the mistake of carrying this concept too far and excluding the flat bench from their exercise routine as a result.
If you’re a novice, I wouldn’t even think about switching to an incline bench until much later. For advanced lifters, however, substituting an incline bench for a flat bench may provide a temporary benefit.
Aside from the actual flat bench exercise, you should modify other components of your routine first. The following are some of the elements of a good workout:
- Simply said, rep tempo refers to how quickly you perform a lift. In order to get their reps out of the way, many lifters complete the bench press as rapidly as possible. Slowing down your repetitions allows you to have better control over the barbell while also forcing your upper body to stay active for longer.
- Rest Durations – Varying your rest periods between sets can have a big impact on your flat bench performance. If you have a habit of procrastinating between sets, gradually lower your rest intervals to test your body’s recovery capabilities.
- Set and Rep Scheme – This is a simple set and rep scheme that you can use Lifters have a tendency to repeat the same set and rep strategy week after week. Even while it’s a good idea to stick to a routine, there will be instances when you should deviate from it. Instead of the traditional 410 (sets x reps), try a 48, 55, or 320.
- Training Volume – Make an effort to gradually increase the amount of bench press work you accomplish during your session. This implies gradually increasing the number of sets or reps in your workout. The better the results, the more work you do.
- Weight – Although this is the most obvious training variable on the list, it is no less significant. Simply put, if you want to improve your bench press, you must challenge yourself with heavier weight.
Even minor changes in your workout schedule might have an impact on your bench press performance. Trial and error is the only method to determine the true influence of these variables on you.
When trying to enhance your bench press, exercise replacement can help, but it should only be utilized as a last choice. If you want to improve your flat bench, it should go without saying that you should flat bench!
You should only try other exercises once you’ve tried all of the above factors and peaked out on the flat bench.
If you choose this path, be aware that you may end up gaining strength on the incline bench at the price of your flat bench, especially if you’re an advanced lifter. So proceed with caution, but don’t be scared to experiment with various workout methods.#
F.A.Q does incline bench help flat bench:
Does incline bench translate to flat bench?
The angle of the Incline Bench Press may transfer better to sports movements than the Flat Bench Press for some athletes, such as football linemen who must come out of their stance and hit on the rise. The workout targets your shoulders and deltoids more effectively the higher the elevation of the bench.
Is incline bench or flat bench better?
The flat press works the entire chest, whereas the incline bench targets the shoulders and upper chest. The flat bench, as opposed to the incline bench, allows you to lift more weight for enhanced muscle mass. If you simply want to be able to lift greater weight, the flat bench will suffice.
Should I do flat bench and incline bench on the same day?
It depends on your goals, experience, and the weight on the bar whether you should flat bench and incline bench on the same day. Both can help you gain strength and muscular growth while also saving you time at the gym. On the other hand, this could lead to tiredness, injuries, or strength plateaus.
As a powerlifter, whether or not you use the incline bench press in your competition (flat) bench press should be a consideration. The incline bench can help you enhance your overall strength if you have a problem in the bottom or mid-range of the bench press.
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