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Incline barbell presses

FK86

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Man, if you scroll Instagram these days everyone seems to be inclining 455 like it's nothing. It's crazy.

I've always been a shit chest presser. Does anyone have any tips on this movement? I can't seem to get into a groove with it where progression really takes off. I stalled out on it last year and have incorporated them again. Haven't done it in about 9 months, so burnout isn't the issue. I'm six feet tall with long arms and find a closer grip (thumbs-width from the smooth) most comfortable as going wider never helped or felt right. I lower the bar a few inches above my chest like how John Meadows advises to avoid rotator cuff issues. I'm wondering if placement above my chest could be the issue. Right now I'm lowering the bar across my upper pecs, which is closer to the neck. I'm wondering if I need to go lower. Even though it's an incline movement, I wonder if I should have the bar in line with my lower pecs. I vaguely remember a thread on here where @DOGGCRAPP was talking about doing that. It was in reference to a smith incline setup he was talking about, but I think the principle may apply here. I can't find the thread right now.

Any input and help is appreciated. Thanks.
 

TT150

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Obviously there are a ton of different variables at play but I found a lower incline and arching helped keep tension on the chest rather than shoulders. Also low incline db presses helped me to recruit my chest better than BB movements since I could rotate my hands slightly at the bottom of the movement.
 

Durro

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Practice practice! The more you do the movement doing different width grips to your elbow position you will find what works for you. I always start my chest workouts with an incline movement barbell, dumbbell, plate loaded machines etc. Also go light, heavy and different rep ranges.
 

MADDmuscle

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Go with your thumbs straight toward the smooth and add an inch.. your elbows have to be rolled under instead of the chicken wing style of elbows being 90 degrees.. and you need to tuck both shoulder blades back under you creating almost like a channel under your back like a ditch.. you lower the bar with your chest and lats.. inhaling deep and spreading out as you come down.. then when you come back up you exhale out and roll yourself back together where you were spread out on the down stroke.. not sure it's still on here I posted a video of me steep inclining 365x8 pretty easy.. and I've inclined 495 for a single before. Hope that helps.. if your blades arnt tucked this weight will never be achieved. Im.not talking about arching your lower back.. when you put your hands on the bar.. come up as if you were to kiss the bar and suck in your breath and tuck both shoulder blades to where they are on the bench.. a wider bench helps cause sometimes your talking about getting both blades on a 12 inch space. Hopefully this helps you brother.
 

MADDmuscle

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Go with your thumbs straight toward the smooth and add an inch.. your elbows have to be rolled under instead of the chicken wing style of elbows being 90 degrees.. and you need to tuck both shoulder blades back under you creating almost like a channel under your back like a ditch.. you lower the bar with your chest and lats.. inhaling deep and spreading out as you come down.. then when you come back up you exhale out and roll yourself back together where you were spread out on the down stroke.. not sure it's still on here I posted a video of me steep inclining 365x8 pretty easy.. and I've inclined 495 for a single before. Hope that helps.. if your blades arnt tucked this weight will never be achieved. Im.not talking about arching your lower back.. when you put your hands on the bar.. come up as if you were to kiss the bar and suck in your breath and tuck both shoulder blades to where they are on the bench.. a wider bench helps cause sometimes your talking about getting both blades on a 12 inch space. Hopefully this helps you brother.
And when I say spreading on the way down.. I mean pulling your shoulders even further away.. i.e. taking shoulder blades closer together on the down stroke.. or think of it as pushing the center of your breastbone up in the air.
 

jeroendebleser

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Man, if you scroll Instagram these days everyone seems to be inclining 455 like it's nothing. It's crazy.

I've always been a shit chest presser. Does anyone have any tips on this movement? I can't seem to get into a groove with it where progression really takes off. I stalled out on it last year and have incorporated them again. Haven't done it in about 9 months, so burnout isn't the issue. I'm six feet tall with long arms and find a closer grip (thumbs-width from the smooth) most comfortable as going wider never helped or felt right. I lower the bar a few inches above my chest like how John Meadows advises to avoid rotator cuff issues. I'm wondering if placement above my chest could be the issue. Right now I'm lowering the bar across my upper pecs, which is closer to the neck. I'm wondering if I need to go lower. Even though it's an incline movement, I wonder if I should have the bar in line with my lower pecs. I vaguely remember a thread on here where @DOGGCRAPP was talking about doing that. It was in reference to a smith incline setup he was talking about, but I think the principle may apply here. I can't find the thread right now.

Any input and help is appreciated. Thanks.
Yes, keep it in line with your lower pecs.

Personally I don't do barbell presses anymore at all, I find dumbbell presses superior for hypertrophy purposes. Not too mention your shoulders will thank you for making the switch to dumbbells.
 

jeroendebleser

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Go with your thumbs straight toward the smooth and add an inch.. your elbows have to be rolled under instead of the chicken wing style of elbows being 90 degrees.. and you need to tuck both shoulder blades back under you creating almost like a channel under your back like a ditch.. you lower the bar with your chest and lats.. inhaling deep and spreading out as you come down.. then when you come back up you exhale out and roll yourself back together where you were spread out on the down stroke.. not sure it's still on here I posted a video of me steep inclining 365x8 pretty easy.. and I've inclined 495 for a single before. Hope that helps.. if your blades arnt tucked this weight will never be achieved. Im.not talking about arching your lower back.. when you put your hands on the bar.. come up as if you were to kiss the bar and suck in your breath and tuck both shoulder blades to where they are on the bench.. a wider bench helps cause sometimes your talking about getting both blades on a 12 inch space. Hopefully this helps you brother.
That's some serious weight for a 6 foot 8 guy!
 

buck

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For what it is worth if you want to build an upper chest the EMG studies show more upper pec fiber activity with a very slight probably 10-15 degree decline.
 

FK86

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For what it is worth if you want to build an upper chest the EMG studies show more upper pec fiber activity with a very slight probably 10-15 degree decline.
It's more that I want to be better and stronger in the traditional 30-45 degree angle that is standard on most benches.
 

Elvia1023

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It's more that I want to be better and stronger in the traditional 30-45 degree angle that is standard on most benches.
I love the movement as well. I rotate angles. I like pressing in the Smith (plus with db's) using a very low incline (1 or 2 settings up from flat). However I also love shoulder pressing with a high (but low for shoulders) incline. I will add in some traditional incline presses for chest at times too. The problem is the incline barbell press in my gym is horrible. Regardless of the seat position it's awkward getting the bar back in place (high setting is too high and lower setting is too low). So I can't push the weight as it would be unsafe and I nearly fucked up pushing it to complete failure one time. If you have a spotter go for it but if you don't at times I would recommend the Smith machine. Or use a rack and have safeties in place. Play about with angles but I never press very high for inclines and I bring the bar down fairly low and never flare the elbows out. For inclines I also bring it down a few inches above my chest the same as you. Generally speaking I recommend machines (plate loaded) as pec recruitment is the same but with less stabalizer muscles being worked. Plus with machines you can go to complete failure without any fear so can push the weight more. However if you just love the movement go for it. I regularly barbell shoulder and chest press. If you have a rack with safeties you could try some deadstop presses as well. They are a great way to help build up strength as are negative reps so essentially lifting a load too heavy but having someone help you with the concentric part of the rep.
 

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Honestly, incline bench is a shit movement for heavy singles. Very hard to stay stable on the bench. You rarely see legit strength or performance athletes hit incline for singles, just d-bags doing it for the gram.
 

Elvia1023

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Honestly, incline bench is a shit movement for heavy singles. Very hard to stay stable on the bench. You rarely see legit strength or performance athletes hit incline for singles, just d-bags doing it for the gram.
I would never do singles on any pressing movement. Well that is a lie as I failed after 1 rep in the UK on 4pps for shoulder press the other week but I literally can't recall a time I ever done a single on any pressing movement. Most are definitely best aiming for at least 6 reps on pressing movements imo. Save the singles for the powerlifters.
 

FK86

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Honestly, incline bench is a shit movement for heavy singles. Very hard to stay stable on the bench. You rarely see legit strength or performance athletes hit incline for singles, just d-bags doing it for the gram.
Like Elvia, I'm not talking singles either. The way I train is doing the DC two-way split, but with straight sets: a loading set of 6-10 reps and backoff set of 12-16 reps. That modification makes it more like JP's upper/lower and allows me to train bodyparts twice a week. Things have been going well with this and I'm recovering and making progress. The incline barbell press is now part of my three exercise rotation, which will be done every ten days so it's strictly a matter of finding a groove that best suits my biomechanics. Just wanted to see how other people have modified the exercise to best suit them and try their tips to see if it works for me.

How strength development works is frustrating. I've added 40 lb to my machine chest press and 20 lb to my Hammer Strength seated press (like in Blood & Guts) and it had no carryover whatsoever. Not to mention I've gotten stronger on other shoulder and tricep movements. That makes no sense to me, though I'm sure there's a scientific explanation as to why that occurs that @homonunculus could probably explain.
 

IronLion2

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I would never do singles on any pressing movement. Well that is a lie as I failed after 1 rep in the UK on 4pps for shoulder press the other week but I literally can't recall a time I ever done a single on any pressing movement. Most are definitely best aiming for at least 6 reps on pressing movements imo. Save the singles for the powerlifters.
Plenty of hypertrophy to be had for singles (singles not one rep), it's not just for strength athletes. I could and did (but deleted) write PAGES on this but essentially if you hit a plateau on a compound movement all the volume in the world wont save you as it's almost surely a mechanical issue.

Like Elvia, I'm not talking singles either. The way I train is doing the DC two-way split, but with straight sets: a loading set of 6-10 reps and backoff set of 12-16 reps. That modification makes it more like JP's upper/lower and allows me to train bodyparts twice a week. Things have been going well with this and I'm recovering and making progress. The incline barbell press is now part of my three exercise rotation, which will be done every ten days so it's strictly a matter of finding a groove that best suits my biomechanics. Just wanted to see how other people have modified the exercise to best suit them and try their tips to see if it works for me.

How strength development works is frustrating. I've added 40 lb to my machine chest press and 20 lb to my Hammer Strength seated press (like in Blood & Guts) and it had no carryover whatsoever. Not to mention I've gotten stronger on other shoulder and tricep movements. That makes no sense to me, though I'm sure there's a scientific explanation as to why that occurs that @homonunculus could probably explain.
Pretty easy explanation;
1) There's no carry over because you're not in the same mechanical position with those exercise selections. Remember specificity is key.
2) The major issue is almost surely stability, leverage, and mechanical positioning.

The bench is hardly a "chest movement."
 

Elvia1023

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Plenty of hypertrophy to be had for singles (singles not one rep), it's not just for strength athletes. I could and did (but deleted) write PAGES on this but essentially if you hit a plateau on a compound movement all the volume in the world wont save you as it's almost surely a mechanical issue.



Pretty easy explanation;
1) There's no carry over because you're not in the same mechanical position with those exercise selections. Remember specificity is key.
2) The major issue is almost surely stability, leverage, and mechanical positioning.
Of course. But it's fairly obvious why people don't 1 rep max everything. Everyone is different but if I was trying to grow and using an incline press hoping to get stronger I would probably keep working sets to a max of 2 per session for the movement. Most things are mechanical when it comes to training but there can be exceptions. Meaning if someone isn't getting the results they want doubling the volume isn't likely not going to improve matters. Although an exception is likely when guys are doing too much and it negatively effects their recovery. Nevertheless, pefecting form to suit your body is always going to be the most important factor (well with intensity too) when it comes to training. There are definitely many different training methods to grow muscle and no one size fits all.
 

IronLion2

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The questions you should be asking yourself;

1) Are my elbows tucked
2) Hows the alignment of my elbow flair compared to my scapular retraction
3) Am I braced in the top and bottom of the movement
4) Are my legs driving back towards me rather than up
5) Am I trying to bend the bar away and pushing it away from the body rather than straight up
6) Whats the relative alignment of my hip flexors to my feet angle
7) Does my arch keep global tension through my thorax

Not to mention if you have any specific sticking points? Bottom? Top? Coming out of the hole?

These are things you need to address before modifying training protocols to get out of a plateau.
 

Elvia1023

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Like Elvia, I'm not talking singles either. The way I train is doing the DC two-way split, but with straight sets: a loading set of 6-10 reps and backoff set of 12-16 reps. That modification makes it more like JP's upper/lower and allows me to train bodyparts twice a week. Things have been going well with this and I'm recovering and making progress. The incline barbell press is now part of my three exercise rotation, which will be done every ten days so it's strictly a matter of finding a groove that best suits my biomechanics. Just wanted to see how other people have modified the exercise to best suit them and try their tips to see if it works for me.

How strength development works is frustrating. I've added 40 lb to my machine chest press and 20 lb to my Hammer Strength seated press (like in Blood & Guts) and it had no carryover whatsoever. Not to mention I've gotten stronger on other shoulder and tricep movements. That makes no sense to me, though I'm sure there's a scientific explanation as to why that occurs that @homonunculus could probably explain.
It's all to do mechanical position, leverage, angles etc. You would expect an increase across all movements but it sometimes doesn't work that way. Look at all the guys on IG who are machine pressing 6-7 plates per side. Put them on a normal seated barbell and most of them will struggle with half the weight for the same reps. It looks good on IG though. I remember when my old gym had a cybex shoulder press and I could shoulder press 7 plates per side for 10 reps. Put that on the internet and wow you would look like a freak. On another brand of plate loaded shoulder press I can barely manage 3.5pps for 10 reps... that's 50% of the load. So whilst you are still getting stronger and your muscles could even be growing I look at it as "fake strength" in a way. Obviously I am just joking and it's real strength as you have gotten stronger but it doesn't always translate to other movements.
 

FK86

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These are things you need to address before modifying training protocols to get out of a plateau.
I didn't modify anything to get out of a plateau. How I'm training came out of assessing progress and recovery over the last three years.
 

heavyhitter

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I go with a very slight incline when I do incline presses. I put 45 pound plates under the head of the bench to get like a ten to fifteen degree incline. More than that and my shoulder joints start to hurt. I really do like hammer strength incline presses also
 

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