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Incline or flat?


plinerd
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I think that's what I'll do, or even alternate one day to the next. I thought maybe I was nuts, but it definitely also felt like more work in the shoulder muscles, too. Makes sense. I can always just do a different move for my shoulders. Thanks.

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Inclines tend to be harder than flat, declines tend to be easier. They all work slightly different combinations of muscle. I tend to focus primarily on flat bench but will also do some work on incline AND decline.

 

Another way to look at it is interfering with other lifts. I tend to avoid focusing on the inclines because it wears my shoulders out a bit such that I can't hit shoulder exercises as hard.

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Incline chest press works the front delts to a degree (depending on how much of an incline). For this reason, I have my chest workout days seperated from my delt workout days by 3 to 4 days. The upper chest pectorals may get a more concentrated contraction on the incline, which I call my cleavage workout (lower chest doesn't really get seen on a women, but the upper part sure does).

 

Now the pops/crunch you feel even on a slight incline bench press would worry me. Your shoulder girdle is probably way too tight. I would do some shoulder opener stretches, especially if you can not put your heads up over your head, straight arms with elbows locked, palms facing each other, and then be able to bring them together (without forcing them together). This is why do yoga, just for even the down dog pose, to keep my joints' range of motion optimal).

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I've heard that doing my bench work (bench presses, flies, etc) at an incline is harder. I can do it, but my shoulder pops/crunches a wee bit. Good, bad, no biggie?

Pops/crunches = bad, yes. Not fatally so, but still bad. Gaia gives good advice below about opening up those joints before really getting into the resistance movements. You really want them nice and warm and synovially lubricated. Also, you might try mixing up the weight and reps and see what feels best for now. If lower-weight, higher-reps doesn't produce the same popping, work that way to acclimate your body to the movement, then start to up the weight again slowly.

 

As to which is easier, that's not really the point. They don't work exactly the same muscles, so it's not fair to compare them. An incline bench will hit your upper pecs and anterior delts much more than a flat bench. Flat bench will use more lower pecs and lats (for stabilization/negative). So don't choose one based on which is easier; choose based on where you want to see gains.

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