T Nation

Flat Bench Obsolete

What does everyone think? In terms of hypertrophy I really think it has no benefit as you’re in a better position for growth on the incline or decline bench.

yawn.

check out some of the articles from Waterbury etc.

I really have no answer to this as I’m not smart enough and I dont want to put in misinformation. But, I’ve never heard “so, how much you incline bench?”

I think all too often people seem to make the same mistake over and over, that mistake being ______ is obsolete, or the reverse _____ is the best training methodology ever. Flat bench may be over-used, but it’s not obsolete.

I agree with Watson…hypertrophy is a result of overload and confusion…doing 3 sets of 10 reps on flat bench workout after workout will not confuse and eventually will not overload your muscles.

My advice, for what its worth, is to change up what you start with every workout…for example
Workout one: flat bench
Workout two: Incline bench
Workout three: flat dumbbell bench
Workout four: Incline Dumbell bench
Workout five: Incline Bench
Workout six: flat bench
Workout seven: some form of fly, no benching…

I will also drop flat bench entirely from my workouts for 2 to 3 weeks every 5 or 6 months

For you, in your current training scheme, maybe.

But, as an exercise? No.

Lockouts with super heavy weights,lots of sets low reps never to failure is a better way to train a ventral/supine press.Floor presses work as well.It really depends on what muscles you want to hypertrophy.If it is pecs you are after,the pecs lose mechanical advantage after 90 degrees of horizontal abduction so going lower than with the upper arm parrallel to floor wont do much except stretch yout GH socket. Weigthed dips for tri’s ,DB overhead press and SA suitcase rows for delts.Peace…

Oh,and you cant confuse a muscle,it has no mind… :wink:

I don’t believe in so called “muscle confusion.” I think people who train this way get results because different neuromuscular characteristics have to be gradually brought up together and if you only train 1, the lack of the others will cause a plateau.

I do think that the powerlifting style bench press is the best upper body exercise to use to hit as much muscle heavy. Aside from the obvious, it trains the subscapular muscles (in fact subscapular mass has been found to be the strongest (controllable anthropomorphic) variable correlating to a high bench to bodyweight ratio. You also have to flex the abs, lats, traps, erectors, glutes, quads or hams (depending on the exact foot positioning), forearm extensors, and the biceps even help raise the humerus in the first inch.

Given that your strength matches your size, I don’t think its a good hypertrophy exercise just because so many muscles are used, but for short stretches only. In this case, my opinion,
dumbell inclines and declines with the elbows a little more out, or if you can do presses from the next without pain, or various hammer strength machines are for hypertrophy.

“strength matches your size”…um,no. Strength is a matter of nervous coordination and is not DIRECTLY related to size.Volume is dominanty important and strength is significantly important.Size is a product equally of the methodology used to train a given muscle, more so than the exercise that you perform.As I mentioned above,it has to do with the goal of the lifter.90 degree horizontal adduction is an excellent way to hypertrophy the pecs.The other exercises mentioned will work with their respective target muscles.The decline work well too but the problem with db is the high degree of coordination.A proper routine would contain db and bb exercises or alternate them in cycles.One cannot forget the shape and size of the ribcage as it relates to the biomechanics of the pecs in such a movment…

[quote]mastemah wrote:
“strength matches your size”…um,no. Strength is a matter of nervous coordination and is not DIRECTLY related to size.Volume is dominanty important and strength is significantly important[/quote]

Yea no shit, that’s what I said.

[quote]mastemah wrote:
“strength matches your size”…um,no. Strength is a matter of nervous coordination and is not DIRECTLY related to size[/quote]

That’s what I said. Power style benches for nervous coordination. If you don’t need strength, other exercises are better because they provide a more constant strength curve. If your strength is deficient then power style benches are appropriate.

[quote]mastemah wrote:
“strength matches your size”…um,no. [/quote]

OK shit, I’m misunderstanding your misunderstanding. When I said “given strength matches your size” I didn’t mean that someones strength matches their size, I meant given that if your strength is currently appropriate for your size, power style benches aren’t ideal for hypertrophy.

Sorry, I’m anal but I wanted to clear that up.

Oh I get it…sorry…my mistake.

[quote]bigpump23 wrote:
What does everyone think? In terms of hypertrophy I really think it has no benefit as you’re in a better position for growth on the incline or decline bench.[/quote]

bigpump23… I think you have been focusing too much on a “bigpump” and not enough on basic physiology. I’m not going to call this a stupid question, but rather an opportunity for you to learn about how muscular system works. There is no such thing as a “better position for growth”.

As was mentioned on this thread, everyone has a slightly different biomechanical make-up. Which translates to that fact that we all have to find what yields the greatest personal hypertrophy. I could do a survey and find some lifters that think incline and decline suck for hypertrophy and that flat bench has lead to their 48 inch chest! Same with barbell vs. dumbbell curls, dips vs. skullkrushers, etc, etc…

The bottom line though is that a muscle only knows tension, but not angle of force, per se. In EMG studies, the decline angle has been shown to produce the most tension on the pecs and therefore generally the highest muscular stimulation. However, that doesn’t mean the decline is absolutely superior to flat or incline pressing angles.

Anyway, back to physiology 101, as a general rule for hypertrophy, you can pick almost angle that works a given muscle or group, apply a load to it over time, and repeat that several times to build volume. In some cases sufficient stress can be induced from isometric holds, which means you don’t even have to perform a rep! (i.e. the myofibrils in the pec major don’t care whether you are performing an incline, decline, or flat press, their concerned ONLY with force production/tension upon contraction, not how that force is being applied).

This is very simplified to show you why your argument is faulty. There are many more factors too lengthy to get into at this time. But, to actually answer your question - I disagree with you and believe flat bench, barbell specifically, is one of the fundamental mass builders in all of body building! Why? Due to it’s compound nature allowing greater leverage, the heaviest loads can be applied to the pecs. The heavier the load the greater the tension. This means greater strength increases, and with sufficient volume, greater growth.

Personally I use declines as a staple in my pressing arsenal. As it was pointed out, I go just below where my elbows are 90 degrees (upper arm just past parallel to the ground) to keep the mechanical advantage (able to use the highest loading) and protect the shoulder joint. I have found tremendous hypertrophy with this, where as using flat bench through out my athletic career (HS and college) did not produce quite as much mass. I also got shoulder impingements from using the flat bench, but that was due to having under-developed rotators and delts and over-developed pecs and lats.

I also wanted to comment on intramuscular coordination concerning hypertrophy. Again, a general rule is that lifts that use tremendous intramuscular coordination are not always, and sometimes very poor, mass builders. This is simply because a lighter load must be used so the stability of the lift is maintained. Lighter loads generally equal less growth. The best example is dumbbell vs. barbell in almost any lift, but specifically horizontal and vertical pressing. I’ve never heard of any lifter with say a 350 lb 1RM that could replicate that max using two 175 pounds dumbbells! They might get the 150’s for a max, but not usually more than that (with good form). This is simply because the barbell bench press is a bilateral system and therefore much more stable. This means less intramuscular coordination is required to move a given load. That means a greater loading can be used and therefore greater mass gains can be achieved.

Knowing that there are exceptions to everything, I am not totally trashing dumbbell pressing. I think they can be a great auxiliary movement to give the joints a break, fix unilateral weakness, and break neurological boredom (which means some possible hypertrophy). But again, a bilateral stable movement where the greatest loads can be applied will generally lead to greater mass gains. As always, individual biomechanical uniqueness always trumps any theory, so you still have to find what works best for you.

TopSirloin

Aren’t you reinventing the wheel. The bench press has been the mainstay of every well built chest and upper body that I know of. Does it biomechanically target the pectoralis major optimally for maximal gains in hypertrophy, or some other bullshit, I don’t know. I just know that when I bench press my chest feels bigger and stronger. The bottomline is that it works now, worked in the past, and will keep working in the future. Unless you have a chest like Ronnie Coleman don’t worry about it.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:
I do think that the powerlifting style bench press is the best upper body exercise to use to hit as much muscle heavy. [/quote]

this is basicly what I wanted to say. Even if I didnt have an interest in powerlifting I would include flat powerlifting style benching in my program as has been explained you get alot of bang for the buck and personally I get better growth with heavier weight. However there are still times in my training where I have not done any flat benching for several weeks

Bigpump is what is called a troll. His comments are not intended to be an honest quest for information, but merely an attempt to provoke a response. There is no reason to answer his question.

[quote]bigpump23 wrote:
What does everyone think? In terms of hypertrophy I really think it has no benefit as you’re in a better position for growth on the incline or decline bench.[/quote]

You’re right. No-one has ever built a big or strong chest doing flat bench press. (End sarcasm)

This is the dumbest thing I have read today. Congratulations.

I agree with massif…I just have never seen anyone with a decent bench that didnt have good pec developement.

I ask this because I have never experienced this but someone was arguing that benching did nothing to improves ones punching power…and I guess I agree sorta…I still gotta say I would rather be punched in the face by a guy who benches 225 the 500 what do you guys think?

Most punching power comes from the hips, and is a power movement. As long as the the big bencher could produce more explosice power and not just strength, he would punch harder.

Case and point Bob Sapp is a huge unit (365lbs and ripped) but can’t punch unless its a clubbing motion. On the other hand, Kevin Randleman is 225lbs and ripped, can bench press a small truck and has excellent knockout power in both hands.