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Showing posts with label big chest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label big chest. Show all posts

Friday, August 1, 2014

Flat vs. Incline Bench, Which Will Make You Stronger?


10 Rules of Fat Loss
Ahh yes, The age old question on an age old exercise. Let the debate begin once again!

Dan Wirth - Flat vs. Incline Bench, Which Will Make You Stronger?
This article was written in response to the following question: Dan, how do you feel about the Incline Bench compared to the Bench Press when it comes to developing great upper body strength?
Ah, the infamous Incline Bench Press. The great and almighty 45 degree sports specific force producer! Seriously, the Incline Bench is a great exercise, but, not one that should use a full periodization schedule. Meaning, it is not my "major stimulator" or Primary Strength Exercise (PSE) for the upper body.
PSE's are complex movements that utilize more than one muscle group. They are the exercises that will use a full periodization schedule working from higher volume and lower intensity phases into maximal strength and power phases. This would be in contrast to a Secondary Strength Exercise (SSE) like the Incline Bench, or an Assistive Strength Exercise (ASE) like a Dumbbell Curl that would not use a full periodization schedule and would not work into maximal strength and power phases!
By major stimulator, I am simply talking about exercises that you can inherently lift the most weight with therefore creating the highest neuromuscular or contraction activity in the muscle groups being used (notice the plural use of the word: groups, the Bench is not just a chest exercise, but more on that later!)
FLAT BENCH IS KING
The Bench Press is inherently set up so that you should be able to push more weight than you could with an Incline bench (barring any injuries or biomechanical problems). If you took one thousand athletes or fitness buffs and tested them on the Bench Press and the Incline Bench Press, about 97% of them, not all but most, would be able to Bench Press more than they could Incline Bench. This is especially true for the 35-45 degree Incline Bench Press which is pretty close to the optimal angle of release for a shot putter and a close representation of the pushing angle after the initial contact phase of a football lineman.
It is for this reason, and this reason only, that the Bench Press is my upper body Primary Strength Exercise. The angle of the Incline Bench is what makes it a great exercise but it is also what keeps it away from PSE status. PSE's for me are the Power Clean, Squat, and "Flat" Bench in athletic based programs. And, I substitute the Deadlift exercise for the Power Clean in programs for people who want to develop great strength.
BIG GAINS WITH PSEs
We could use the Power Clean and the Squat as further examples of Primary Strength Exercises. In most strength and conditioning programs, in sports where strength and power output are vitally important, the Squat exercise is the major stimulator as opposed to the Front Squat, or the Barbell Step Up. The same thing applies with the Power Clean versus the Power Snatch for example. This is not taking anything away from the Incline Bench, Power Snatch, and Front Squat exercises. Many times I emphasize these lifts in my strength and power programs, but, when I am focusing on absolute strength and power increases during certain training cycles it is the Power Clean, Squat and Bench that I use.
When I mentioned neuromuscular activity levels earlier, many research buffs would like to bring to my attention an occasionally found research example of the Decline Bench exercise having a higher neuromuscular activity than the Bench Press (found through EMG testing). I would say yes, this is true in some cases. However, the Decline Bench has some problems with it's limited range of motion. But, that's another story.
Now, this brings me to a very important point: The Bench Press is not just a chest oriented exercise. It is a Chest, Shoulder, and Triceps exercise. And, this is precisely the reason why most people can lift a heavier poundage with this exercise! The strength of those three muscle groups combined is ultimately stronger than a lift like the Decline Bench which is primarily only a chest developer or the Incline Bench which activates the shoulders even more than the chest.
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