Incline vs Decline Bench : Make The Best Choice to Maximize Your Results

Incline vs Decline Bench

Deciding which type of bench press to choose would be easy when you know the one that suits your needs or what you want to achieve.  The bench press can have different variations and each variation is meant for a specific purpose since they target the different parts of the upper body and can yield different results.

The main difference between an incline bench and decline bench is the angle of the back pad.  An incline bench press has a back rest positioned at an inclined angle whilst a decline bench is the opposite, with the back rest in a decline position.

The bench chosen by a user will depend upon the muscles that they want to facilitate most muscle growth.  The incline bench press focuses more on the upper pecs with the decline bench placing more emphasis on the lower pecs, with both engaging the upper body at different angles.

Both the incline and decline benches will offer different set ups.  For example, an incline bench could be positioned anywhere from 10 degrees right up to 70 degrees.  The angle of which will allow the user to target different muscle groups.

This is usually why it is advised to incorporate both into a chest workout to help develop the whole chest and obtain a well-rounded physique.

Continue reading to find out more about these two bench presses and which one could better suit your needs.

What Is The Incline Bench Press Used For?

The incline bench press is favoured by athletes such as bodybuilders as it is one of the best exercises for adding mass and sculpting the chest muscles.  Whilst different incline benches will vary, most will allow you to set the incline at different positions.  The more of an incline you bench press, will mean you target more of the upper pec major and anterior deltoids. This make’s it ideal for better isolation.

Incline bench pressing is also a great option for women as working the upper chest muscles will help to support breast tissue.

Bench pressing on an incline is more difficult when compared to flat or decline benching.  This is because there is much more stress placed on the upper pec muscles meaning you cannot engage the whole chest making it more difficult to press.  This is typically why it is advisable to first bench press on a flat position allowing you to perfect your form before moving on to a more challenging incline press.

One thing to note, is that if you are very strong in the anterior deltoids region, you may notice that these muscles take over during an incline press, meaning you won’t get the same upper chest activation that you may want.

What Is The Decline Bench Press Used For?

The decline bench press is a variation of the standard bench press where you lie in a downwards position with head facing down.  The bench is typically set at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees decline allowing you to target more of the lower pec major muscles.  Range of motion with a decline bench press is less when compared to the incline bench press.

It places much less stress on the anterior detoids making it a good option for those who may be suffering from shoulder pain.  What’s more, as the range of motion is much less this makes it a safer pressing exercise.

It’s not uncommon to be able to press more weight on a decline.  This is because there is much less shoulder activation with more emphasis being placed on the chest muscles, primarily the lower pec major.  As the chest muscles are larger and produce more force, you may find you can lift more.

Incline vs Decline Bench Differences

There are advantages and disadvantages to using the incline bench and decline bench. We made a comparison of the incline vs decline bench below so you understand which is beneficial for your workout

Incline Bench

  • Targets The Upper Pec Major And Anterior Deltoids
  • More Shoulder Activation
  • Less Risk Of Injury
  • Easier To Perform
  • Better Option For Women
  • Targets Lower Pec Major
  • More Tricep Activation
  • Less Range Of Motion (ROM)
  • Technically More Challenging
  • You Could Press More Weight

Incline vs Decline Bench Press Benefits

Both incline and decline bench presses are beneficial to the upper body. However, there are differences in terms of the areas that each bench press targets.

When it comes to similarities, it has been found that, whether you use the incline or decline bench, the concentric phase (pushing the bar up) of the exercise activates more muscles than the eccentric (lowering the bar to the chest).

3 Benefits Of The Incline Chest Press

Better Isolation Of The Upper Chest

The incline bench press targets the upper portion of the chest which is often underutilized during the flat bench press. Therefore, if you want to better isolate the muscles in your upper chest, this would be an ideal exercise.

Easier On The Triceps

The incline bench press doesn’t involve as much leverage as the decline bench press. This means that your triceps don’t have to work as hard to stabilize the weight.

Excellent Carry Over To Other Exercises

As the incline bench is excellent for building strength to the upper chest and front delts, this offers great carry over to movements such as the overhead press and flat bench press.

3 Benefits Of The Decline Bench Press

Better Targeting Of The Lower Chest

The decline bench press targets the lower portion of the chest, which is often underutilized during the incline bench press. Therefore, if you want to work out the muscles of the lower pectoralis major, then a decline bench press is the suitable option.

Less Stress To Shoulders And Back

Bench pressing on a decline will keep stress away from the shoulders and back making it good option for those who have injuries or weakness to these muscles.  As it activates these muscles much less than an incline bench it does make it more difficult to execute.

You Could Lift More Weight

Due to the limited range of motion and more emphasis being placed on the strongest muscles in the body, your pectorals, you may find you press more weight.

Final Thoughts

As both the decline bench press and incline bench press yield different results, there is no specific answer as to which is best.  Instead of choosing one over the other, it would be recommended to incorporate both into your workouts for optimum results to overall chest development when it comes to muscle mass and strength.

Before committing to anything, consult a personal trainer or fitness expert to help you achieve the best results.

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