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Thread: Flat Bench Press vs. Decline Bench Press

  1. #1
    Lurker rag15's Avatar
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    Flat Bench Press vs. Decline Bench Press

    I do my chest workout once a week. I cycle between Flat, Decline and Incline Bench press every week.. so for week 1, I do flat. For week 2, I do Decline and week 3, I do Incline. I repeat that cycle week 4, 5 and 6.. and so on.

    I have been consistantly doing this for over a year. Lately, I have been having shoulder pain every time I do flat bench barbell press.. my sholders seem to fatigue VERY quickly and they feel sore and interrupts me from continuing bench. On that same session, if I switch over to Dumbell Flat Bench using the same weight I did with Barbell Flat Bench, I don't feel that shoulder pain. I don't feel that pain when I do Decline/Incline Barbell Bench presses either. It only seems to happen with Flat Bench Barbell Presses.

    I feel as if the way the Barbell puts pressure on my shoulders when I'm on flat is what's causing the problem.

    I've asked some veteran lifters at the gym and they think I'm doing more weight than my shoulders can handle, but I disagree. I don't seem to have shoulder issues when I switch it to flat dumbell bench press or decline barbell bench press using the same weight.

    Any insight into this is appreciated. Is it OK to give up on Flat Barbell Bench Press and substitute it with Decline Barbell Bench Press?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by rag15 View Post
    I do my chest workout once a week. I cycle between Flat, Decline and Incline Bench press every week.. so for week 1, I do flat. For week 2, I do Decline and week 3, I do Incline. I repeat that cycle week 4, 5 and 6.. and so on.

    I have been consistantly doing this for over a year. Lately, I have been having shoulder pain every time I do flat bench barbell press.. my sholders seem to fatigue VERY quickly and they feel sore and interrupts me from continuing bench. On that same session, if I switch over to Dumbell Flat Bench using the same weight I did with Barbell Flat Bench, I don't feel that shoulder pain. I don't feel that pain when I do Decline/Incline Barbell Bench presses either. It only seems to happen with Flat Bench Barbell Presses.

    I feel as if the way the Barbell puts pressure on my shoulders when I'm on flat is what's causing the problem.

    I've asked some veteran lifters at the gym and they think I'm doing more weight than my shoulders can handle, but I disagree. I don't seem to have shoulder issues when I switch it to flat dumbell bench press or decline barbell bench press using the same weight.

    Any insight into this is appreciated. Is it OK to give up on Flat Barbell Bench Press and substitute it with Decline Barbell Bench Press?
    I might get your form checked, its a possibility your not tucking your elbows in enough. I know not doing this use to kill my shoulders by putting them in a vulnerable position.

  3. #3
    Get Some! KoSh's Avatar
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    Well, regardless, I'd stick with one of them for a few weeks before changing the main chest exercise. Perhaps do flat for 3-5 weeks, then deload. Then Incline for 3-5 weeks then deload. Then decline for 3-5 weeks than deload. Changing every week isn't giving it enough time to be successful.

    How advanced of a lifter are you? What are your numbers? What's your entire routine? I could talk to you about it alot easier with that information.

    If you're advanced changing it on a weekly basis isn't a bad idea, that's what the guys at Westside do, I believe, but that's something Travis would have to chime in on. But for a novice/intermediate I wouldn't change the main lift on a week to week basis.
    Last edited by KoSh; 07-28-2010 at 11:36 AM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Raleighwood's Avatar
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    I am under the impression that the decline press is an inferior exercise, as it is easier to move heavier weight and the range of motion is reduced.

    I could be wrong though.
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    Senior Member sbirgel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raleighwood View Post
    I am under the impression that the decline press is an inferior exercise, as it is easier to move heavier weight and the range of motion is reduced.

    I could be wrong though.
    I agree I think Allen cress or one of the guys who writes for the forum posted a recent article about how the best range of motion for the chest was flat and incline and decline was pretty irrelevant

    EDIT: here's the link for that article

    http://www.wannabebig.com/training/a...strong-chest/#
    Last edited by sbirgel; 07-28-2010 at 03:27 PM.
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  6. #6
    Moderator joey54's Avatar
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    Short answer, your form is subpar and needs work. Google vidoes on form. I suggest Dave Tate's.


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  7. #7
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    I've posted this before but this is Mark Rippetoes take on decline bench, this is from his SS book...

    “The decline press is a rather useless exercise because the angle of the body in the decline position shortens the distance the bar can travel, decreasing the amount of work done in respect to the distance the load moves. This has the effect of increasing the weight that can be used in the exercise by decreasing its difficulty. This leads to inflated perceptions of one’s ability, and is essentially masturbation, much like that which is possible with a 30 degree leg press or a half-squat. It gets recommended for its effects on the “lower pecs”; dips perform this function much more effectively, which at the same involving more muscle mass, more balance and coordination, and more nervous system activity… Declines are dangerous because if their point of contact on the lower sternum gets missed, the next stop is the throat. Couple this with heavy weight and a lousy spotter, and you might have a really bad “chest” workout.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by rag15 View Post
    I do my chest workout once a week. I cycle between Flat, Decline and Incline Bench press every week.. so for week 1, I do flat. For week 2, I do Decline and week 3, I do Incline. I repeat that cycle week 4, 5 and 6.. and so on.

    I have been consistantly doing this for over a year. Lately, I have been having shoulder pain every time I do flat bench barbell press.. my sholders seem to fatigue VERY quickly and they feel sore and interrupts me from continuing bench. On that same session, if I switch over to Dumbell Flat Bench using the same weight I did with Barbell Flat Bench, I don't feel that shoulder pain. I don't feel that pain when I do Decline/Incline Barbell Bench presses either. It only seems to happen with Flat Bench Barbell Presses.

    I feel as if the way the Barbell puts pressure on my shoulders when I'm on flat is what's causing the problem.

    I've asked some veteran lifters at the gym and they think I'm doing more weight than my shoulders can handle, but I disagree. I don't seem to have shoulder issues when I switch it to flat dumbell bench press or decline barbell bench press using the same weight.

    Any insight into this is appreciated. Is it OK to give up on Flat Barbell Bench Press and substitute it with Decline Barbell Bench Press?
    Rag,

    depending where your pain is it could be a trap strain. My pain was in my collarbone area and i felt very weak from benching any significant weight. my trap strain was caused by when I used my cell phone or any telephone, i'd hold the phone by leaning my neck to the side (no hands). I realized this and once i stopped using my neck my pain began to slowly go away. Everyone always told me it was my form my form and it wasnt. But that is just me.

  9. #9
    Lurker rag15's Avatar
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    Sorry, my computer got hit by a nasty trojan and it took me some time to restore it. I really appreciate the replies..

    I would say I'm probably an intermediate lifter overall. My chest lifts are somewhat lagging compared to the rest, the weakest link being my shoulders. As far as my numbers go, for 1 rep max, BENCH - 205, DEADLIFTS - 330, SQUATS - 265. Along with these main lifts, I do lot more exercises for these muscle groups (like cable cross overs, cable rows, leg raises ..). I end up doing about 15 to 18 sets of chest, back and legs each., every week. If I have an extra free day, I do shoulders and arms. I do spinner (fly wheel) bike for an hour and do a HIIT running for 15 minutes every week.

    As far as the kind of shoulder pain I have, when I raise my arm up laterally (over 90 degrees) and bring it back down, it hurts every time the shoulder joint makes that "snap". I would say the pain/soreness is felt between anterior and lateral deltoid area. Strangely, I am able to hit my shoulders by themselves (shoulder presses, Arnold presses, military) pretty hard. As I've previously mentioned this pain only occurs during flat bench barbell.

    I think you guys are right about my form being the issue here (thx for Dave Tate suggestion - I will try to follow it and see if that helps). I've tried to keep my elbows tucked in, but the position at which I am gripping the bar, seems so awkward. I noticed that if I have to keep my elbows tucked in, I can't lift as heavy as I want. Also I find it very difficult to maintain that tucked in position after 1 or 2 reps. My bony elbows just want to naturally stick outwards. Also, in this tucked in position, I can't grip wide and feel as if the closer grip is putting more stress on triceps.

    Can someone explain me how keeping the elbows tucked in relieves stress off shoulders?

    Is it OK to substitute flat barbell presses, with flat dumbbell presses? Are there any disadvantages of avoiding flat barbell?

    PS: Thanks for the scoop on decline barbell press..
    Last edited by rag15; 08-02-2010 at 12:40 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sbirgel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rag15 View Post
    Sorry, my computer got hit by a nasty trojan and it took me some time to restore it. I really appreciate the replies..

    I would say I'm probably an intermediate lifter overall. My chest lifts are somewhat lagging compared to the rest, the weakest link being my shoulders. As far as my numbers go, for 1 rep max, BENCH - 205, DEADLIFTS - 330, SQUATS - 265. Along with these main lifts, I do lot more exercises for these muscle groups (like cable cross overs, cable rows, leg raises ..). I end up doing about 15 to 18 sets of chest, back and legs each., every week. If I have an extra free day, I do shoulders and arms. I do spinner (fly wheel) bike for an hour and do a HIIT running for 15 minutes every week.

    As far as the kind of shoulder pain I have, when I raise my arm up laterally (over 90 degrees) and bring it back down, it hurts every time the shoulder joint makes that "snap". I would say the pain/soreness is felt between anterior and lateral deltoid area. Strangely, I am able to hit my shoulders by themselves (shoulder presses, Arnold presses, military) pretty hard. As I've previously mentioned this pain only occurs during flat bench barbell.

    I think you guys are right about my form being the issue here (thx for Dave Tate suggestion - I will try to follow it and see if that helps). I've tried to keep my elbows tucked in, but the position at which I am gripping the bar, seems so awkward. I noticed that if I have to keep my elbows tucked in, I can't lift as heavy as I want. Also I find it very difficult to maintain that tucked in position after 1 or 2 reps. My bony elbows just want to naturally stick outwards. Also, in this tucked in position, I can grip wide and feel as if the closer grip is putting more stress on triceps.

    Can someone explain me how keeping the elbows tucked in relieves stress off shoulders?

    Is it OK to substitute flat barbell presses, with flat dumbbell presses? Are there any disadvantages of avoiding flat barbell?

    PS: Thanks for the scoop on decline barbell press..
    I don't like that you're not doing a shoulder routine weekly...that could be part of the problem with your shoulder pain that your shoulders aren't strong enough to be where your bench is
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  11. #11
    Lurker rag15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbirgel View Post
    I don't like that you're not doing a shoulder routine weekly...that could be part of the problem with your shoulder pain that your shoulders aren't strong enough to be where your bench is
    I was under the impression that big 3 (bench, deadlifts & squats) cover most if not all muscle groups that I don't have to worry about hitting all the secondary muscle groups individually, in the same week. I used to cover shoulders every week, but changed it after reading something about "overtraining" that said its not really necessary to do shoulders, biceps, triceps, calfs every week/cycle, as long as I am doing the big 3 heavy and consistantly. Correct me if I am wrong..
    Last edited by rag15; 08-03-2010 at 07:47 AM.

  12. #12
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    You are correct, at your level specializing isn't super necessary.

    However I have to agree with the others, throw out decline press, spend a couple weeks focusing on DB bench with lighter weight and higher reps to allow your shoulders to recover

    If you are not careful now, you will pay later with a permanent shoulder injury


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  13. #13
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    The big 3 lifts give you the biggest bang for the buck and will develop the largest percentage of strength and size. But you need accessory lifts for balance and health. For instance, if all you do is bench, you will overdevelop your pressing structure and it will lead to a strength inbalance and possible shoulder injuries. You should be doing an oposing pulling movement like barbell rows to keep everything happy. Another important exercise is some type of hamstring movement as the squats and deads have you extending the leg through the movement.
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  14. #14
    Lurker rag15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    You are correct, at your level specializing isn't super necessary.

    However I have to agree with the others, throw out decline press, spend a couple weeks focusing on DB bench with lighter weight and higher reps to allow your shoulders to recover

    If you are not careful now, you will pay later with a permanent shoulder injury

    I still have some pain, but I will take your advice and give shoulders some more time to recover..

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