• Decline Builds Pecs Better Than Incline



      From Ergo Log

      The incline bench press is almost as popular in gyms as the flat bench press, while the decline bench press is often neglected. And that's a shame: according to a human study done a number of years ago by sports scientists at Wayne State College, the decline bench press is a better exercise for the chest muscles than the incline bench press.



      Pectoralis
      You have two chest muscles: the pectoralis minor and the pectoralis major. The study mentioned here only looked at the pectoralis major.

      The pectoralis major in turn consists of two parts: the upper part, which is attached to the collarbone and is called the clavicular portion of the pectoralis major in anatomy text books [above right: C]; and the larger, lower part, attached to the sternum, officially called the sternal portion of the pectoralis major [above right: S].

      Experimental setup
      Bodybuilders who want to focus on developing the clavicular portion of their pecs add the incline bench press [below left] to their workouts. If they want to emphasise the sternal portion of their pecs, then they go for the decline bench press [below right].



      The researchers wanted to know for sure whether these two exercises do actually do what the hypertrophic community think they do. So they got 15 students, all of whom had already been doing strength training for at least a year, to do incline and decline bench presses in the laboratory. The researchers measured the electrical activity in the subjects' chest muscles while they were exercising, and used the information to work out how hard the muscles were working.

      Decline > incline
      The incline bench press stimulated the upper part of the chest muscle just as much as the decline bench press did, as the figure below shows. The exercise therefore doesn't have the effect that bodybuilders expect it to have.

      Con = concentric [upwards] movement; Ecc = eccentric [return] movement.





      The figure above shows the effect of both exercises on the lower part of the chest muscle. Here you can see that the decline bench press does have the effect that bodybuilders think it has.

      Source:
      Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 1997, 11(3), 163-167.

      Source: http://www.ergo-log.com/decline-benc...nch-press.html
      Comments 20 Comments
      1. ma70's Avatar
        ma70 -
        Glad this article came out. I hate incline pressing anyway.
      1. hurdlemaker's Avatar
        hurdlemaker -
        Can't say I buy this one fully, haven't done decline in about 8 years and focus mostly on incline. My chest has grown tremendously in the meantime. Honestly I've avoided decline so my lower pecs don't grow too much and I look like I have titties haha
      1. cbsharpe's Avatar
        cbsharpe -
        Just started incorporating decline presses. I happen to like incline but just neglected decline but this has changed.
      1. Type O Hero's Avatar
        Type O Hero -
        My chest was one of my big weak points (relative to everything else). Had great looking arms but a weak chest. At this point I was still trying tp do heavy barbell bench press because that's all I was reading: do heavy bench for bigger pecs...

        Well, this may work very well for people of particular builds, but for me its a very ineffective exercises. Only took me 7-8 years to realize it lol

        For my build, I get the most out of incline DB presses (Because I can tweak the angle of the press to suit my build way better than using a barbell), weighted bar dips,, pec dec, cable flyes, and DB pullovers. You may look at that list and say da fuuuck? But I've learned that those exercises are what works best for me.

        Decline presses feel very ineffective for me to the point where I consider them a waste of time. They may work well for some people but for me they're useless.

        DB pullovers help work those little muscles between your lats and upper abs (serratus, ect..). If you don't have an especially strong looking chest I recommend trying to develop these muscles. Having them adds to the entire picture. And most guys with big chests usually don't have them because they're covered up by fat.
      1. Rarchib's Avatar
        Rarchib -
        I've switched out incline bench for reverse grip bench and it seems to be stimulating upper chest growth better than incline.
      1. hurdlemaker's Avatar
        hurdlemaker -
        Originally Posted by Type O Hero View Post
        My chest was one of my big weak points (relative to everything else). Had great looking arms but a weak chest. At this point I was still trying tp do heavy barbell bench press because that's all I was reading: do heavy bench for bigger pecs... Well, this may work very well for people of particular builds, but for me its a very ineffective exercises. Only took me 7-8 years to realize it lol For my build, I get the most out of incline DB presses (Because I can tweak the angle of the press to suit my build way better than using a barbell), weighted bar dips,, pec dec, cable flyes, and DB pullovers. You may look at that list and say da fuuuck? But I've learned that those exercises are what works best for me. DB pullovers help work those little muscles between your lats and upper abs (serratus, ect..). If you don't have an especially strong looking chest I recommend trying to develop these muscles. Having them adds to the entire picture. And most guys with big chests usually don't have them because they're covered up by fat.
        ur list of chest exercises actually is very similar to mine, I also like doing cable cross overs, I have def focused hard on incline db presses to develop my chest tho, I start with that exercise more than any other. I can go very deep comfortably and really mentally put the emphasis on my pecs
      1. cbsharpe's Avatar
        cbsharpe -
        I've neglected decline up until 2 weeks ago. Always performed incline which I happen to like but I've read from other sources that declines are the way to go.
      1. Clipper83's Avatar
        Clipper83 -
        I love decline bench to start. However, incline dumbbell gives me a much better stretch.

        Incline barbell is impossible for me to do anyway, anything over 155 kills my shoulder
      1. cbsharpe's Avatar
        cbsharpe -
        Originally Posted by Clipper83 View Post
        I love decline bench to start. However, incline dumbbell gives me a much better stretch.

        Incline barbell is impossible for me to do anyway, anything over 155 kills my shoulder
        Completely understand and that makes sense. Fortunately, I don't have any shoulder issues.
      1. NattyForLife's Avatar
        NattyForLife -
        Originally Posted by Clipper83 View Post
        I love decline bench to start. However, incline dumbbell gives me a much better stretch. Incline barbell is impossible for me to do anyway, anything over 155 kills my shoulder
        If im not mistaken ive read that incline is actually easier on the shoulder joint than flat BB bench! I think i may have read it in seans powerlifting log or somewhere, not exactly sure!
      1. KrisL's Avatar
        KrisL -
        Would be nice to see a comparison of decline bench to dips. I generally prefer dips if only because it's pretty hard to drop a bar in my mouth if my hand slips, but I guess some people would think that's silly.
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Dorian Yates is a big fan of decline. I've actually started incorporating then into my workouts with great results. Incline is good but variety is better.
      1. dunkfunk2000's Avatar
        dunkfunk2000 -
        Decline I think is a great way to add variety to a workout. I think it helps, as I focus on them a quarter of each year. However, incline benching helps me to strengthen my flat and decline bench. I dont have scientific proof, but thats what has worked for me
      1. islandiron's Avatar
        islandiron -
        Originally Posted by dunkfunk2000 View Post
        Decline I think is a great way to add variety to a workout. I think it helps, as I focus on them a quarter of each year. However, incline benching helps me to strengthen my flat and decline bench. I dont have scientific proof, but thats what has worked for me
        Ya man,, I agree, inclines can actually help your declines! I love doing heavy bb declines, and as I go up in weight I bring my grip in just a quarter inch,, by set 5 Im doing 315 for 3-4 reps and I only weigh 185. Declines are making me thicker and stronger,, great for triceps too.
      1. Clipper83's Avatar
        Clipper83 -
        Originally Posted by NattyForLife View Post
        If im not mistaken ive read that incline is actually easier on the shoulder joint than flat BB bench! I think i may have read it in seans powerlifting log or somewhere, not exactly sure!
        Maybe for some people's body structure, but def not mine. I broke my collar bone in high school and my shoulder hasn't been the same since. I'd love to do heavy incline barbell though
      1. Foxlion's Avatar
        Foxlion -
        I never do incline bench press. I do guillotine press & reverse grip bench press for upper pectorals but dips have always been my favorite pectoral exercise.
      1. Type O Hero's Avatar
        Type O Hero -
        Rule #1 for selecting exercises: Don't assume something is going to work for you just because it works for others.

        People write up articles all the time saying how certain exercises below others out of the water. To a degree this is true but you have to find what works for you. If I find something that really works for me then I'll certainly let others know. But I'm not going to make it sound like you have to do exactly what I'm doing to experience results.
      1. Yolked's Avatar
        Yolked -
        It may hit more fibers but with pretty much get that from all the flat benching. If you want a big chest you gotta focus on inclines. But make sure angle is below 45 degrees or you hit too much delt. Wider than shoulder width grip. Do em first instead of flat bench and you will see some chest development. Use d/b's for flat benching.
      1. hurdlemaker's Avatar
        hurdlemaker -
        No need to worry about grip width with Incline db's, u actually have a free range of motion and can focus on having ur pecs do the majority of the work. Hell even Ronnie Coleman says he mostly used incline db's to develop his upper chest. He says he likes to attack problem areas with db's, buuut he also is a big supporter of regular bench press haha "everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, nobody wants to bench press"
      1. Yolked's Avatar
        Yolked -
        Arnold focused on inclines as well that's why I trained chest the way I did... wide db fly presses and squeeze on way up NOT at the top when arms locked...

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