T Nation

Chest Development and Flat Bench w/ Pause


#1

When I use a 3 second pause on flat bench, I find I get a sore chest for a few days. I notice a lot of people on here say flat bench is bad for chest development. Obviously it's something powerlifters use a lot in their trainig.
What are your opinions?

Also do you think incline or decline benches have their place in training for a competition bench. I use incline but not decline.
Is incline about 20% harder than flat bench?


#2

Hey man I think that the incline bench press is really good for improving strength at your chest, so if your problem is strength off your chest I would use it as a secondary exercise on your bench day, the first one is obviously the flat bench. I think that If you dont compete there is no reason to pause, IMO you can do TnG bench all the time and get stronger, but if you have to prepare for a meet I would highly recommend a 3 second paused bench. And I dont think that the Decline bench would help you much for strength, because there is less range of motion and if you have shoulder cuff issues you can hurt them really bad due to their position on the decline bench. Also dont forget you close grip bench!


#3

You do flat benching to get better at benching because that is one of the things you’re judged on.

At some point, you start getting diminishing returns by only doing the bench, so a slight variation on the theme can give you an extra bit of progression.

Powerlifters are looking to shorten the range of motion of the lift (because you can lift more that way) so it ends up not being a great chest developer as the triceps take a lot of the work and there isn’t as much work being done closing the angle at the shoulders.

If you want to develop your chest, I’d say bench like a body builder -dumbbells and maximising the amount of shoulder flexion/adduction but missing the very top of the movement


#4

Incline variations all day long. Reverse grip also a great variation (and can pack someserious mass on tha gunzz!)…


#5

[quote]decimation wrote:
When I use a 3 second pause on flat bench, I find I get a sore chest for a few days. I notice a lot of people on here say flat bench is bad for chest development. Obviously it’s something powerlifters use a lot in their trainig.
What are your opinions?

Also do you think incline or decline benches have their place in training for a competition bench. I use incline but not decline.
Is incline about 20% harder than flat bench?[/quote]

I think all kinds of pressing variations have their place in driving your bench for competition. In my experience so far, the better you are at bench, the more useful variations will be. I’m a pretty poor bencher, and using variations has never helped me much. However, lots of volume of competition style bench with some little bit of assistance work seems to work much better. I incline press every so often, do some tricep pushdowns and weighted dips. But, every time I train I bench. All that changes is the load depending on the day.


#6

[quote]decimation wrote:
When I use a 3 second pause on flat bench, I find I get a sore chest for a few days. I notice a lot of people on here say flat bench is bad for chest development. Obviously it’s something powerlifters use a lot in their trainig.
What are your opinions?

Also do you think incline or decline benches have their place in training for a competition bench. I use incline but not decline.
Is incline about 20% harder than flat bench?[/quote]

It depends on how you do it. Even in powerlifting there are chest/shoulder/“lat” benchers, there are tricep benchers (I am one of those), and mixes of in between. Someone like me doesn’t really get chest growth out of just benching and doing supplemental and assistance work that has a direct positive affect on it.

If you want to build your chest for bodybuilding, then bench like a bodybuilder. Get a slight arch, somewhat wide grip (pinkie on rings should be good, maybe go closer, maybe go a tiny bit wider), keep your shoulder blades pulled back and bench using your chest. Instead of pulling the bar apart, try pushing your hands together to make a U with the bottom of the U being where your hands are.

Also Incline benching can be harder or easier depending on what degree the bench is at, the grip you use, how low you go, your strengths, etc. I’d guess moderate incline close grip would be around 75% of my max, so incline with a normal grip would probably be 80% if you have similar strengths as me and use a similar incline and other stuff as me.

Powerlifters also may or may not use a pause. I never pause when I bench unless I am trying to see what I could do in a competition, and that’s only for roughly a second. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life time missed a bench at the bottom.

As far as training for a good competition bench, I follow the westside style of training. I do very very little actual benching with my competition grip against only straight weight. All of the strength and hypertrophy is built through special exercises (variations that closely mimic the bench and put focus on weaknesses), supplemental work (lockout work or heavy tricep work in my case at the moment), and assistance work (smaller exercises for stabilizer muscles and just to keep the body balanced) with speed and technique work done by a competition style bench with straight weight, or against accommodated resistance on the light day or “dynamic effort day”. I use a large variety of grips, quantity of accommodated resistance, ranges of motion (on the floor, rack lockouts), benches (flat and incline), and other training variables for heavy or “maximal effort” work. For someone like me who is built kinda bad for the bench press (longer than average arms) this is the best style in my opinion.

I have benched before the school year ended 315 at 185 at 17 years old, and I decided to go for a stint of strongman (didn’t work out lol), and I am waiting until my next competition to go for a new record against straight weight. I am expecting around 335 in the 198 weight class once I have peaked.