Which is Best: Flat or Incline Bench Press for Pec Development?

The answer is as OldSkool as it is short & sweet—Flat Bench Press.

As the angle of incline increases, less and less of the major pectoral muscles are used and increasingly the burden of the lift falls on other muscles like the triceps, delts, supraspinatus, trees, rhomboids, etc.

These two exercises are essentially different versions of each other. How different? This will really depend on the angle of the incline used.

But be advised, do not stop doing your incline movements, more excitement is in the air as, in effect, there are a whole spectrum of angles available to you for your lifting pleasure and bodybuilding profit here. Every time you change an angle of your press, you change the emphasis that the exercise will have on muscle groups. So the previous exercise that you did at 0 degrees (flat), at a 30 degree angle morphs into another exercise that puts stress on different muscles or different parts of the same muscle group.

Therefor, a simple pressing motion possesses the potential to produce a cornucopia of potential movements. Voila, it’s Christmas! Your gift? A Swiss Army knife and multitool for bodybuilders…a bench press that can be performed in a variety of ways at an unlimited number of angles.

You can also change the way the fundamental drivers interact by switching back and forth from barbell to dumbbell configurations.


The thing about weightlifting is that it tends to be a rather traditional and conservative activity. Participants usually do specific exercises in traditional ways that have been handed down to them with a father-to-son kind of randomness, by word-of-mouth: the father, an uncle, your friend, an odd acquaintance or perhaps just some big guy in the gym. They don’t usually think about the physical engineering or kinesiological aspects involved in a movement, or even if it is an appropriate one and makes sense to do a particular exercise for a desired goal. Things don’t usually get tested or well checked out. It might fly, but maybe not. Bro-Science is often not a good source of credible information in these cases.

The take-home message here is that the lifting of weights is not a passive, hoary old tradition steeped in myth and superstition, it is a dynamic and fluid activity of aggression and imagination and should be carried out with this in mind.

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