T Nation

Flat vs. Decline Bench?


For a BB program, would it be a good idea to include both the flat AND decline bench press for the chest day or are both too similar as to be redundant i.e. pick one or the other?


In my opinion you should have all three flat, incline, and decline, and in fact that is how my chest day is. Variations of course switch up the order and barbell/dumbbell usage.



Yes, do all 3 if you can because it works different parts of the cheat, back, and shoulders.


It also depends on your strong points. For instance, you may have a thinner upper chest than mid or lower. I had this problem. Started doing mostly incline and I am beginning to fill it out. If you are newer to lifting I would try and do all 3 evenly, maybe you will develope evenly. But pay attention to yourself before you get an imbalance.


Thank you for the replies. I will incorporate all three as you've suggested. I'm thinking;

BB Flat bench 3x8
BB Decline bench 3x8
Db Incline 3x8


Not necessarilly. The flat bench and decline bench are fairly similar. I would include a flat or decline movement along with an incline movement and some sort of fly or cable crossover.


Personally i always do all three types of presses. Everytime starting with incline then flat and then decline, mixing Barbells, Dumbells, Smith M/c & the Power Rack (flat negatives).

Unsurprisingly i am strongest on decline (probably why i love this the most). I find whatever i have done previously, when i begin decline its as though its my first exercise (feel fresh). May have slight shoulder/tricep fatigue, but not that much.

Also, i have the bench (decline) on the highest setting, not sure of the angle but i have always done this, just feels better (stronger). I'm not that tall about 5'8". Anyone else find this.

I finish chest with 3 - 4 sets of dips (10-12)then 3 - 4 sets on the peck deck (arms straight & hold at point of most contraction for a count of 3).


Declines are nothing more than a cheap ego booster.


IMO, if you're gonna do inclines and declines, you don't need flats. I'd do a 3x8 for decline BB then 3x10 of incline DB if I were you. In my case though, I do dips first then flat BB, both 5x5.


Personally I don't do that much flat work that often. Mostly close grip for tris which also do hit my chest. In my opinion most people do inclines at too great an incline. Sometimes I'll just stick a piece of 4X4 under the head end feet or incline the bench and put a piece of 4X4 under the foot end feet for a bit more. Any higher than that and I'm working mostly shoulders.

On the other hand I like to do declines on my ab bench on the steepest decline with dumbbells (power hooks), almost like dips which I also do which are a decline movement for those who don't like declines.


care to elaborate on this or are you just saying that?


I was always under the impression that flat and decline were very similar. THe only difference I noticed is my shoulder involvement. In fact, when my shoulder's been injured in the past, and I couldnt do flat or inclines, I could always do declines with no problem. Add the fact that you can move much more weight (shorter stroke), and you'll realize why so many younger trainers like the exercise.



Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that declines also involve the pectoralis minor more than flats. Furthermore, EKG tests show that the pecs get stimulated more on declines than flats. Both can answer why you can lift more on declines, making it an "ego booster" of sorts.


I can see why you say this, since most lifters can handle more on the decline compared to flat or incline, but i disagree with you. Declines worked well for me when flat benching was bothering my shoulder. The decline takes the shoulders out of the movement more so than other types of benching.


Uh Oh!



That was just a meatheaded statement outta the blue. Declines like damn near anything else have more or less value depending on the person.


decline bench press shapes your chest better specially lower chest.


Practically the same exercise.




I have a question about this.

I press about 80 DB flat, 65DB incline, but on the decline machine (no bench at my gym) I press a whopping 270 lbs. It's that machine where you sit up leaning a bit to the back and have handles that you push away from you and down a bit. It's like doing a decline only the entire thing is rotated 90 degrees. My chest's shape is pretty normal so I think it's the machine.. But that's a whole lot of difference. How is this possible?