Whether you’re swimming, pushing a grocery cart, or throwing a ball, having strong chest muscles is essential for everyday activities.
It’s extremely important to train your chest muscles just as you would any other muscle group. One of the most common and effective exercises for working your chest muscles is the chest press. But which chest press is the most effective: the incline or the flat bench chest press?
There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s more a matter of preference, what your personal goals are, and what you’re trying to achieve. To maximize your results, do both types of chest presses since they both work almost all the same muscles but hit the muscle in slightly different ways.
Let’s look at each of these options.
The table below shows that both incline bench presses and flat bench chest presses work an array of chest muscles.
|Muscle||Incline chest press||Flat bench chest press|
The pectoralis major muscle is comprised of a clavicular and a sternocostal head (upper and lower pec).
The purpose of the incline press is to focus more on the work on the upper pecs. The main benefit of performing incline presses is to develop the upper portion of the pectoral muscles.
When the bench is set at an incline (15 to 30 degrees), you activate your shoulders more since it’s comparable to a shoulder press. Also, because of the angle of the bench, this exercise puts less stress on your rotator cuff, which is a common area for injury when using the flat bench.
However, there are some cons to performing an incline chest press. Because the incline chest press puts more stress on your upper pec, it develops this muscle group more, while the flat bench tends to build mass over the entire pec.
You’re also actively using your deltoids (shoulders) at this angle, so you don’t want to work on your deltoids the next day. You never want to overtrain your muscles, which can happen if you train the same muscle group two days in a row. Overusing any muscle can lead to injuries.
Incline chest press, step by step
Lie back on an incline bench. Make sure the bench is adjusted to between 15 and 30 degrees on an incline. Anything higher than 30 degrees mainly works the anterior deltoids (shoulders). Your grip should be where your elbows make a 90-degree angle.
- Using a shoulder-width grip, wrap your fingers around the bar with your palms facing away from you. Lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked.
- As you breathe in, come down slowly until the bar is an inch away from your chest. You want the bar to be in line with your upper chest the whole time. Your arms should be at a 45-degree angle and tucked into your sides.
- Hold this position for one count at the bottom of this movement and, with one big exhale, push the bar back up to your starting position. Lock your arms, hold, and come down slowly.
- Do 12 repetitions and then place the bar back on the rack.
- Complete a total of five sets, adding weight after each set.