T Nation

The lost art of the bench

OK out of all the people i see flat bench, around 75% of those also incline but, i’d say only 5 or 10% of those decline. Am i the only one that still declines with a bar?? I love the feeling of hoisting up about 25 pounds more than my flat max, just feels nice. I’ll see people runnin all over the room doing all kinds of crazy shit to make there chest grow, but then the dont decline. What gives??

the decline hits a lot of the lower chest, and most people are lagging in the incline area. so you need to prioritize what is lagging and you can’t overtrain. besides don’t you do dips? laters pk

I used to try to do decline bench but due to the focus on the lower pecs I had to give it up. I was born without my right lower pec, some genetic malformation. It took me forever just to be able to do flys.

Yup, i do 75lbs on the belt dips. I hardly think most would overtrain by doing four sets of flat,incline ,decline. And if your upper chest is lagging hit incline first. Decline activates more muscle fiber than flat or incline. If ya want a “full” chest it just could’nt hurt. It’s like the people that do 3 sets of flat and then run over to the pec deck. If your gonna train, then train or head to the house.

I do declines still. I dont do them evertime I work my chest though. I love bein able to handle more weight doin them. I usually do them maybe every 3rd week or so. I’ll go heavy as i can with it.

no offense

correct me if im wrong, but dont you already work the lower chest when you flat bench?

None taken BFA. I usually hit incline, then flat, then weighted dips (ends up being a bit more tris than chest due to stuctural abnormality) I weigh 165 and have been doing 5x5 dips with 70 lbs on the belt. I do flys or pec deck last.

Please tell me your chest workout isn’t 4 sets of flat, 4 sets of decline, 4 sets of incline barbell bench bench press. If you do that you have a lot of learning to do. I can usually spot these people in the gym. Sometimes if I’m bored I’ll pick out a guy and try to predict what he’s going to do for his workout. This is usually done prior to my workout when warming up with some active stretching.

Nope, I switch it around when i feel myself starting to get stagnant. I’ll rotate movements in and out depending. The only thing i cant do is cable cross overs from a torn rotator cuff. But lemme ask ya this. If that was my workout which it is about 6 months out of the year, If i keep always adding weight and making size gains when others seem to stall out then whats wrong with that? My numbers consistantly go up…hmmmm must be doin something right. People have been building muscle for years. Just because there not hopping around always trying the latest trend does’nt mean the person is wrong.

And when i am running that i run incline,decline,flat, to hit my priority area’s.

Generally speaking, 12 works sets per muscle group is over training; it must be nice to have pharmaceutical aid :wink:

I think Machine read your post and equated your workout with the Gymbacills. 4 sets of 10 Incline/Decline/Flat, followed by four sets of ten Barbell Curl/Dumbbell Curl/Preacher Curl. 4 days a week. I don’t mean to say this is you, butI know i’ve seen this enough in my gym.

But hey, whatever works for you. On a side note, I made plenty of progress with less than optimal training, hell i was even doing most things wrong. The hardest thing for me to grasp was: to get bigger, do less. Maybe that’s over simplified, maybe it’s flat out wrong, but it took me from 238(Which i was at for 2 years) to 252 in a couple of months. So, whatever works for you.

One last thing. There is no way you can know how much i know about liftin, so saying i have a lot to learn is a lame comment. While your standing there looking at me being “predictable” im growing like a god-damned weed. Your cocky attitude tells me all i need to know about you. The fact is you have not liked me since that off topic thread that time. I’m done replying to you from now on. Have a nice life.

that’s ridiculous to say that 4 sets each of flat/inc/dec won’t work for someone…obviously BFA has found what works for him, so why change it? I personally get better results following a Poliquin style routine, hitting chest ever 5 days with 5-10sets of 1-2 exercises. Here is a sample chest/back/delt program that has worked great for me:

A1)Med Sup Grip Chin 44-6 120
A2)Inc DB Bench 4
4-6 120
B1)Hammer Str Row 45-7 120
B2)Dips 4
5-7 120
C1)Inc DB Laterals 38-10 90
C2)Rope Row to Neck 3
8-10 90

I like to keep things simple, and work on increasing weight by 5% per workout or by 1 rep, if I stall out, I’ll switch out some exercises or drop the reps for strength. This workout should take approximately 55min after warm up, given a tempo of 302. If I feel exceptionally strong that day I might add in some extra trap or delt work.

Thanks Perro.

Great results man. I came from the other end of the spectrum . 265lbs 25%bf down to 210lbs @11%bf. I used to do 16 sets for chest but with my shoulder i’ve had to drop it down. Yeah im a juice ball, but i was doin more sets when i was natural than i am now. My chest routine now only takes me about 55 minutes. I go in dont bs with everybody and get out. Works pretty good. Thanks for the input though.

BFA said: “I hardly think most would overtrain by doing four sets of flat,incline,decline. And if your upper chest is lagging hit incline first.”

This implies 12 sets of bench in a workout using a barbell with each set. Most knowledged trainers and strength coaches would agree that doing this type of training “6 months out of the year” would not be the best way to “keep always adding weight and making size gains”. Are your numbers going up b/c of your lack of training age? Steroids? Diet? You will plateau eventually and I’m surprised to hear you haven’t overtrained with that method.

BFA said: "There is no way you can know how much i know about liftin, so saying i have a lot to learn is a lame comment."

What? I don’t know how much you know. I merely asked if that is how you train. If it is, I still think you have a lot to learn.

BFA said: "While your standing there looking at me being “predictable” im growing like a god-damned weed."

The only time I’m standing there picking out chumps who go from flat to incline to decline is when I’m warming up with some active stretches. Did you miss that in my last post? If you’re growing, it has nothing to do with the fact that you train bench using 12 sets total of flat/incline/decline 50% of the year.

BFA said: "Your cocky attitude tells me all i need to know about you. The fact is you have not liked me since that off topic thread that time. I’m done replying to you from now on. Have a nice life."

What’s that? I was cocky? How was I cocky? Do I know you? No! How can I like or not like you then? I don’t even recall an off topic thread with you. If we did have one it must have been a long, long time ago and probably about something very important to you since it clearly is still in your memory. And thanks, I will have a nice life! I hope for your sake you go against your word and reply to me.

That workout for you build mass, or just strength gains. I’ve heard about working less with a larger weight load to increase size/strength, but could never grasp the concept. What type of programs do you use for your chest. You listed 1 for chest/delts/back, but for just your chest … could you name a few workouts you do for your chest ?

Also, could you post a link, or anyone with polquin talking about chest workouts ?


Here is my 2 cents. My chest program for the last month has been flat/incline/decline barbell bench and when I am not whipped after that I do pek deks or flat flyes. My flat bench consists of 3 or 4 working sets of heavy, 3 rep sets. Incline and decline consists of 3 working sets of 5 to 8 reps. This a variation of a Mike Francois power routine that I am thinking of trying after Xmas for 2 months. I agree with BFA about how it seems that so many people jump around doing the latest trend. It also seems that those same people never change how they look over the course of time. I am 38, 2 years training, no pharmaceutical aids and still believe in basic excersises for training. In fact the guy that showed me the ropes about training had the opinion that cable crossover machines should be cut up and sold thereby making room for more squat racks etc. I have never used a cable crossover machine. He also in his younger, peak days benched 5 plates a side for doubles and weighed 245 lbs @ 5’9". Even now he does flat bench for 2 or 3 sets of 8 with 3 plates a side like it’s a warm up. So I tend to listen to what he says. I also agree with Rob that sometimes less is more. Most of the young guys in our gym seem to work chest and arms 3 or 4 times a week. Young or not, overtraining here I come. I guess whatever works for ya being my main point. Anyways I am rambling now so I will shut my cake hole.

Out of curiosity, what would you consider a more intelligable chest workout to be?

My current routine incorporates flat bench, dumbell inclines, and weighted dips. For all intents and purposes this mix of movements closely mirrors flat/incl/decl type workout. I tend to avoid fly type movements or any others that activate biceps because my next workout day hits them. Can’t figure out how this would make me a schlep? Not that you said I was, but you get the point.

That said. I usually only do 4 working sets in my first movement. 2 or 3 max in the others. One thing to take note of, is that the general population does not understand the meaning of “working set”.