T Nation

Huge Pecs!

Bench press is supposed to be the best overall chest development exercise but if you rely soley on that you get somewhat droopy looking pecs…so inclines are in order. You guys that have nice full upper pecs, how much of a percentage of your bench pressing is on an incline? Half? 62.5%? 1 set? Enquiring minds want to know.

I hit incline always first for the same amount of sets as i will do for flat. I also do incline flyes. I like using dumbells for presses and flyes and when i feel crazy i do these in supersets using half of my pressing weight for flyes. Usually 3 supersets of incline press followed by 3 supersets of flat will have my chest destroyed.

I do my bench with a wide grip to the base of the neck / various incline DB presses, elbows down and back, cross bench pullovers and wide grip dips, elbows out, chin on the chest. (Scott/ Gironda style)

inclines do noy work the upper pec any more than benches do, if anything benches w/a shoulder wide grip would work the "upper"pecs more, but you can not hit one part of a muscle anyway (exception being delts and maybe the tri’s a little. peace. oh yea, the bench itself is a terible pec exercise the dip or decline db or some of the decline’s like hammer or medx are MUCH better. peace again

My opinion is that, while doing inclines might make a very small amount of difference in muscle shape, for the most part (95% or more) it’s genetic. I did flat benches for about five years, then switched to inclines exclusively for another five years or so because of a shoulder injury. Didn’t make much difference either way, visually speaking.

I agree that you can’t change the shape of an individual muscle but if you look at the construction of the pectoralis major you see it’s comprised of two heads, two totally separate muscles encased in their own facia, with different origins and insertions. The sternal head originates at the sternum and makes up the bulk of the chest mass. The clavicular head originates at the clavical and inserts at a lower point on the humerus than the sternal head. Since muscles can only contract and relax, basically shortening the distance between origin and insertion you can see that the clavicular head (upper pec) is meant to bring the arms together on a different plane than the sternal head (lower pecs). Benching with a wide grip and to a high point might involve the clavicular head a bit since the body works in synergy but a more direct effect would work the muscle more effectively.

So, thanks for the input so far. I’ll keep watching this thread to see what else I can find that’s useful.

steelyeyes, the prob is if you look at the function of the pec minor it is realy to RAISE the arms infront of the body NOT to cross the arms, and no matter what you do when you bench it is still a delt exercise first and formost. a front raise will actualy involve the pec minor more than any bench can, also a muscle will contract hardest after it has been fully streched, which no matter how it “feels” the incline, or flat for that matter, bench will not do. peace

I think that incline can selectively stress the upper pecs. Whatever visual improvement of the upper pec, however, I believe comes from preferential development of the upper pecs while “neglecting” the lower pecs. When I do an incline press with a very light dumbbell in one hand and feel the working pec with the other hand, the lower pecs are almost totally uninvolved, so I do believe that they are isolated during inclines. But, again, I believe that to avoid the droopy tits look, I you almost have to underdevelop the lower pecs.

This is a good post. I’ve always had big shoulders compared to my pecs. Actually my worst pose was the front double biceps b/c i had such a bird chest. But usually Chest and arms are the first thing to grow. and i’ve done incline and flat bench all the time with flys etc… But is there really better exercises for chest growth? heytey225 says bench is not the answer, who here has gotten a big chest without the bench being the main exercise?

Pecs (upper as well as lower) have always been one of my strong points. Inclines comprise exactly half of my chest work. The only things I do for chest (and have for some years now) are flat bench and incline bench, on alternating chest days - one chest day will be 3-5 sets of flats, and the next time I train chest will be 3-5 sets of inclines. That’s it. This (a.) keeps you from doing bullshit isolation movements like pec deck flyes in order to get a “burn,” which really don’t produce massive results, and (b.) keeps a good HALF of your chest work focused on inclines, i.e. your upper pecs. It should be noted, however, that contrary to popular belief, even FLAT benching, if done properly, works the upper pecs EXTRAORDINARILY well. Just make sure that, when doing ANY chest exercise, you keep the shoulder blades pulled DOWN (toward your feet) and IN (towards each other) THROUGHOUT the exercise, so that your shoulders are not allowed to “roll” forward and take over from your pecs.

I’ve had that problem years ago when I worked out because first up for chest was always flat benches, rarely any incline and if so, the weight was light due to the awkwardness. Now that I’m lifting again at 38 years old, a full overall developed chest is TOP priority! What’s the priority principle? What needs the most attention needs worked on first. Example being upper chest for me so, needless to say, incline bench press set around a 30 degree angle(no more than 45) is first up in my work-out.I’m fresh and ready so I can go alot heavier than I could ever go and the results are great…broader, fuller, deeper chest all around. After inclines I lower the angle 1 notch and do incline flyes(strict form but heavy as possible), and then I get to the flat bench presses. As for sets, I do 4x 8 reps for incline bench, 3x10 for incline flyes(10 reps since it’s a finishing movement) and 3-4 sets of 8 reps for flat bench. Work-out weight for both benches are now a little over 200lbs…not bad since I only started working out after 7 years on March 7,2001 at only 135lbs on both benches.

Good input so far.

One thing…the pectoralis minor isn’t the upper pec, it originates on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ribs and inserts on scapula somehow. It aids in drawing the arm down toward the hips, not up or in. Maybe that’s the thing that Arnold was working when he thought he was expanding his rib cage with heavy dumbell pullovers.

It sounds like your puttinging too much of an investment into your flat traditional press. I have found that variations of presses (i.e. incline, decline, and flat) followed with one or two fly exercises, and finally some dips or crossovers to really hit the fast twitch fibers in the muscle. Also be sure to change your routine every 4-6 weeks. Stick with variety, intensity, and good form and I’m sure your lagging pecs will improve given time.

One thing I would add is that, whether you decide to do inclines first in your chest routine and then follow them with flats (as GHoGH suggested), or just do them on their own day, as I suggested, you’re accomplishing one important thing: you’re doing your inclines when you’re fresh. This will allow you to get much stronger at them than people who do them AFTER flats, and significant mass DOES follow strength. Most people I know, even those who are around my size and are as strong as me on the flat bench, are not even close to me on the incline bench. (All “strength” numbers are relative, by the way, so what’s “a lot” for me might not be for you, and vice-versa. I’m just telling you my numbers so you can get an idea of my flat vs. incline strenght ratios). On the flat bench I can do 8 unassisted reps with 325. On the incline I can do 8 unassisted reps with 285. My flat benching numbers don’t really surprise people, but my inline numbers usually shock them. Trust me when I tell you, strength on inclines IS very important for upper pec size.

If you look closely, people perform benches in very different ways. Doing the like a power lifter make them nearly worthless wihout what would be a heavy weight (too great of a mechanical advantage). The nice sloppy tits look on many body builders is as much a function of shitty posture and a weak upperback as it is of anything else. I have never ever seen some one go from the sloppy tits to the square chest look, I wonder if one can actually make a real change in the visual appearance of their chest through inclines?

dave p, dips, dips, dips, and did I say dips! the pec fully contracts w/your hands almost right infront of your thighs, your pecs fully strech w/your elbows up wide almost behind you, the pecs are one of the few muscles that has an exercise that realy does work it thru almost the full range of motion, THE DIP. the function of the pec is NOT to cross the arms in front of the chest it IS to bring the arms down across the body. as always peace