Need for Incline Chest Exercises - Or Not?

Dr Darden and other forum members,

Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I can remember from several books by Dr Darden, there is no specific preference for incline chest excercises? I recall an opinion on regular flat chest excercises being sufficient for chest development.

I would like to expand on this issue, as I myself have yet to see any differences in my chest development over time, from incline excercises. I’ve always felt the deltoids took the beating, though I actually like the incline alternative as a variation in excercise. Am I missing out on something major here?

It is not my intention to start a firestorm re different opinions here, just asking a question for good conversation. I mean, even Nautilus have some fine incline chest equipment, that could indicate support for this excercise variation (or just for another machine to sell)?

Personally, I like to incorporate some kind of incline movement for chest every workout, so I may do a flat bench and an incline flye, or flip it to an incline bench, and a flat flye. There is certainly a benefit in getting some more focus on those Upper chest fibers, because while they do get stimulated on flat chest exercises, it primarily targets the lower chest fibers. I think if you did both or cycled them like flat one workout and incline the next, it would be a good way to ensure total chest development.

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The first several models of chest press by Nautilus(up to at least Next Gen) were surprisingly called Decline Press. Look at any anatomy picture there is a pectoral muscle, no division. Not an upper, lower, outer. I’ve always been of that camp. Have done the variations, but not to build the upper or lower.

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Seriously, the pecs are fan-shaped muscles. They do have two sections (upper & lower) innervated by two different nerves — take from that what you will. Contrary to popular belief, you can contract the upper part without contracting the lower part … Will that lead to “upper chest” development? I have no proof, but would like to at least hope so AND I’ve never seen anything but theory to the contrary!!

I do believe heredity has much to do with how developed ANY part of the pecs can get, BUT it will never hurt to focus on different parts time to time, as long as your expectations are realistic. A kinesiologist made the argument about Incline Press being much for important from a functional viewpoint than flat benches; I wish I could find that article. I believe it was one of the writers for T-Nation, about 8-10 yrs ago.


I like incline presses and flat DB flies. That was actually a Mentzer recommendation (tying back to the Mentzer thread). Sometimes I just do flat chest press.

My Powertec multi-station allows me to do decline presses which certainly have a unique feel to them. It’s a little hard to prevent myself from sliding on the seat when the weights get a little heavier. But it almost has a feel like dips on the pecs, but without the shoulder strain.


Declines just never felt right to me. I really can’t explain. I prefer Dips, but as you point out, shoulder strain is a very real issue — I fix that by keeping the grip width close (hands brush close to torso at bottom) and limiting the ROM.

Is there a need for incline chest exercises? Absolutely not.

Is there a need to select exercises specifically targeting each of the two heads (assuming complete pec development is the goal)? Absolutely.

The (mistaken) premise of the original question is that the set ‘Upper-pec exercises’ is wholly contained within the set ‘Incline chest exercises.’ It isn’t. For example, the absolute hands-down best upper-pec exercise I have ever done is decline guillotines.


Your shoulders must LOVE you… The most efficient exercise for upper pecs is Close-Grip Shrugs!

Make sure you have a spotter because your ass will die.

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What part of the chest am I working with the double hand landmines from my knees? I think it upper inner chest.

Gironda Chest presses. The only bp version he approved

worst exsercise -ever

read Doug Brignole Biomechanics and you never do incline again

Says the guy who never tried it.

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I don’t understand that logic of not doing an exercise because you read in a book that it’s bad. Especially when personal experience has shown otherwise. Incline press is a great pec builder.

Find out your limitations for yourself, don’t create limitations based on a book. Don’t nocebo yourself.

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If you’re insinuating that @EyeDentist’s choice of exercise is terrible for shoulders, and your choice is better, you should know that internally rotating and raising the shoulders at the same time is the best way to get shoulder impingement.


Thats a joke right??:rofl:. That will do absolutely nothing to target pecs. Its a trap exercise.

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If you squeeze your chest by letting your shoulderblades protract and then raise them, your traps will contract, but the clavicular head of the pec will also contract. The problem with the exercise, as I said, is not whether or not it contracts the pec, but that it causes shoulder impingement.

muscle mechancs is Not a book . it;s fact