Here is a summary of the champ’s stance on incline- and flat-bench presses.

June 9, 2008

Written by FLEX Staff

Perhaps the most dominant pro bodybuilder of all time, eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney is also one of the most knowledgeable about training—MHaney has contributed a training column to FLEX for several years.

Conventional wisdom says that flat-bench presses are better than incline-bench presses for overall chest development, because presses on an incline bench are supposed to primarily stress the upper pecs only. I have a different opinion. The angle of incline allows a fuller range of motion that allows you to hit the entire pec complex. For best overall chest development, you should use both.

Either way, select a weight that lets you control the bar to place all the resistance on the pecs. You should do a warm-up set of 12-15 reps with a relatively light weight, and then work your way up to a weight that will force you to reach failure in the six- to eight-rep range.

Beginners should start with just the two basic exercises for four working sets of 6-8 reps after the warm-up set. While on a flat bench, use an overhand grip just beyond shoulder width to slowly lower the bar to midchest level. Exhale as you push the weight back up to arms’ length and aim for a complete contraction in your pecs.


For incline presses, angle the bench at 30 degrees. If the angle of the bench is steeper than that, you shift the emphasis to your front delts. On an incline bench, I lower the bar to my upper chest instead of the middle of the chest. Contract your pecs at the top and stretch them at the bottom, going slightly slower during the negative (lowering) portion.

After about six months, you’ll be ready to add more variety to your chest workouts to add quality size and definition. One of my favorite workouts includes two explosive exercises (incline- and flat-bench barbell presses) and two fine-tuning exercises (dumbbell flyes and cable crossovers). Surprise your pecs with varying levels of resistance, but be sure to allow at least three days between chest workouts for proper recovery time.FLEX.

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