T Nation

Incline vs. Bench for Size - Which is Superior?


#1

I was wondering what your opinion is for beginner muscle when it comes to building chest size on the bench…

Flat bench or incline? Does either one have more benefit if you only have the smith machine for barbell benching at your disposal?

I notice a lot of fitness videos on YouTube mainly showing incline barbell or mixture of DB presses (incline/flat) and flies…

Just wondering your thoughts…


#2

Which one do YOU feel in your chest while performing?

The answer is individual specific based on MMC and physiology. I don’t remember the last time I flat benched, it hurts my shoulders and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt my chest work while performing it.

Also, I wouldn’t necessarily use the smith if I had the option.


#3

Got ya.

For now I’m stuck with either smith machine or DB for benching… I would probably lean more towards incline and then do flies for a finisher maybe at higher rep range to get that extra extension and contraction going.

Past two sessions I was flat benching on smith for the first time as I never touch it. It’s not too bad, but no matter what it is slightly uncomfortable and in order for me to feel it in my chest, I imagine pulling my hands together while pressing to help contract my chest.


#4

The smith machine is on a fixed vertical plane, both incline and flat presses do not follow a vertical plane, which makes it difficult.

The only time I use the smith is if I’m feeling really good, and want a finisher. I’ll do partial Reps staying between the bottom 10% and top 75% of the movement. In other words, just before the bar hits the chest and several inches from lockout.


#5

Yeah, I do find the smith machine partially distracting mentally because as you perform the movement, you know it’s not natural and you can feel it forcing you which I do not like so much.

I figured I’d test it out this week as I never entertained it, so maybe next week I should focus on DB presses and work in some flies to get some extra pump.

I tried barbell rows off the smith today and it wasn’t too bad. But even with that it’s not natural. Wasn’t alarming though.


#6

John Meadows wrote about the Smith a few years ago. Good info, if you’re limited to a Smith and, you’re goal is hypertrophy.

https://www.t-nation.com/training/why-i-love-the-smith-machine

“I don’t expect anyone to scrap the basic lifts from their routine in favor of the Smith machine exercises, nor do I think that’s necessary or even ideal. The Smith machine is simply a tool, and in the right context, a very effective one”


#7

Yeah I took a glance at it the other day.

Being that I am still more on the beginner end, I will start using DB presses and maybeee utilize this for a finisher for some extra pump.

One aspect in the article that’s correct is that the forced position does allow you to feel it in your chest if you adjust yourself right.

As for back, I do like the rows on it so far…


#8

As it was pointed out what is best between flat an incline can vary based on your body type and muscle dominance.

IN THEORY the incline press is superior to the flat press. But PERSONALLY my shoulders take over too much in the incline press. For ME the incline press is a better shoulders builder than shoulder presses but doesn’t do much for my chest.

Normally people with either longer arms or weaker deltoids will respond better to the incline press when it comes to building the chest.

BTW when talking strictly about building muscle, I do not hate the Smith machine FOR UPPER BODY PRESSING exercises. I actually use it myself about 1 out of 3 pressing workouts. Less neural stress and generally allows you to more easily focus on the target muscle.


#9

I sort of experience the same for incline press when I use the machine or even DB presses. I feel it more in my shoulders and that distracts me with form or focusing that mind to muscle connection. .

Currently on another one of my threads a user had set me in a routine direction, but curious to maybe your advice also…

For the time being I am at Planet Fitness. Trust me I cannot stand it, but I use it because it’s better than nothing and for economical purposes until I can take care of some other things…

With that said, I am beginner level, in the gym less than 6 months looking to build strength and muscle.

What kind of routine would you suggest for a gym such as this and their limited equipment for those core compound movements that are the staples of building muscle?

Currently the user’s suggestion is:

5x5

Leg press
DB bench press
DB rows

then 3x15

Hamstring curls
Rear delt exercise such as face pulls
& 50 pullups or chinups throughout the work out itself…

If I have time an energy to do any other accessories, I can do rope pull downs, hammer curls, DB military press, side raises and whatever abs…

As it is new, I so far like the routine.

Just wanted to know your thoughts as I really want to be on a stable routine that I can get good solid results for the next few months before it’s time to switch things up a bit.

Because of this type of gym, I overthink routine a lot. If I was in a normal gym I’d be doing the stronglifts 5x5 or SS routine, something similar. .


#10

Nothing wrong with working at planet fitness. It’s clean, has nice equipment just not everything and typically the heavier dbs feel new. I used to workout there and got bigger but I had to use more tricks. Try using a low incline. Like 15 degrees incline. That hits my chest best. Too often the set incline barbell bench is too high for me and it feels like my shoulders are taking over but the low seems to hit it better