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Incline vs Decline Bench Press: Which is Better?

In an effort to make the most of the time that you spend at the gym, plenty of people find themselves trying to choose the best workouts for targeted areas of their body. If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your upper body strength, you may have begun to research the differences between an incline vs decline bench press.

In this guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each type of bench press so that you can make more informed choices in terms of creating the most effective workouts.

The Benefits of the Incline Bench Press

First, let’s discuss the advantages of using an incline bench press as a reliable way to work your upper body. An incline press is generally defined as setting your bench at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees so that you’re sitting more upwards than you would be if you were performing a flat press.

  • Protects Your Back Muscles

An incline bench press is designed to target the upper muscles of your pectoral region, which helps to take a lot of strain off of your lower back. For people who have been struggling with back pain and are interested in strengthening their chest without making an injury worse, an incline bench press is your best choice.

As long as you are able to keep your arms at the same level as your shoulders while pressing your shoulder blades together, there shouldn’t be any additional stress on your back.

  • Helps Achieve Full Muscle Growth

Another reason as to why incline bench presses are one of the most popular exercises among gym enthusiasts is because they give you the ability to achieve the highest possible level of muscle growth. It’s one of the few upper body workouts that work both your upper and lower pectoralis major muscles, which is essential for achieving an even and bulky look.

If you are someone that doesn’t have access to a weight bench or a barbell, performing an incline press is far easier with dumbbells. This is simply because the positioning that you’d have to take for a decline bench press is more awkward for beginners.

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However, as you get more experience, you’ll find that adjusting the dumbbells in a declined position should start to get easier. It’s also important to note that you’ll need to have impeccable stability when performing decline bench presses with dumbbells.

  • Easier for Beginners

When you walk into the gym, you’ll find that the decline bench presses are usually free, which can be beneficial for people who know how to use the machine, but a little more difficult for beginners. If you’re looking for a way to branch out into the world of presses, it’s recommended that you start with a flat or incline press as you’ll find that they’re easier to work with.

The Benefits of the Decline Bench Press

It’s tough to talk about the incline bench press without mentioning the decline bench press, as there are plenty of gym enthusiasts that surely find that one is better than the other. At the end of the day, the effectiveness of the incline vs decline bench press is based on the muscle groups you want to work on.

  • Less Shoulder Stress

When compared to both the incline and flat bench press, a decline bench press puts far less stress on your shoulders by limiting the amount of rotation that they’ll be performing. Many people find that the more incline or flat bench presses they perform, the more pain they experience in their shoulders, especially if they’ve suffered from an injury in the past.

  • Helps You Perform Compound Movements

With the help of a decline bench press, every lift is a compound movement that is going to target a variety of areas of your upper body ranging from your triceps to your lower abdomen. In fact, there are a few groups of people who believe that the decline press is better for your triceps than an incline press, as long as the lifts are performed properly.

  • Focuses on Lower Pectorals

Even though the incline bench press is known for its all-around muscle development, the decline bench press is recommended for people who are interested in targeting their lower pectorals. If you find that you’ve spent the vast majority of your time working your upper pecs and have noticed an uneven bulkiness, it means that it’s time to work on the lower region to achieve a fuller look.

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Incline vs Decline Bench Press vs Flat Press

By far, the majority of people that begin working on their pectoral muscles are going to flock to the flat press. However, it’s surely the least effective when compared to the incline and decline presses.

It’s always a better suggestion to slowly start with the incline press and then work your way into the decline press, avoiding the flat press altogether. By doing this, you’ll be able to target a wider variety of muscle groups in less time. Remember, the more you engage your muscles, the easier it will be to achieve your fitness goals.

Incline and decline presses are also recommended for people who want more control over their workouts. This is not only so they can target specific areas, but also use different levels of weight to their advantage and work their way out of a plateau.

You’d be surprised at the sheer amount of muscles you’ll be avoiding by performing flat presses, which is why it’s always best to opt for other upper body workouts to activate your lesser-used muscles.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to comparing the benefits of an incline and decline bench press, there are plenty of things to take into consideration. Overall, the decline press is recommended for people who have more experience with lifting and want to target relatively unused muscles that could be forcing their body into a plateau.

On the other side, incline presses are best for beginners who want to achieve more bulking than if they were to rely on a flat press, but in an easier way than with a decline press. With a combination of both, you’ll be able to work your upper and lower pectoral region to accomplish all of your body goals in no time.

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