Incline Bench vs. Flat Bench: What’s the Superior Bench Press?

In the weight lifting world, the bench press exercise is primarily considered a staple for building chest muscle mass; to the point that Mondays are known as “Bench Day”. For the rest of the world, bench pressing—alongside squats and deadlifts—are in the top three most well-known weight lifting exercises. We feel so convinced of the exercise’s popularity that we’re certain people who’ve never exercised or stepped a foot inside of a gym could identify someone bench pressing. Thanks, Sylvester Stallone, couldn’t’ve happened without ya.

But it’s long-standing hype is not without good reason. The benefits to your chest and shoulder development are undeniable. And, you can move some serious weight with the support of the bench. The heaviest bench press recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records belongs to Blaine Sumner, who pressed an enormous 401.5kg! In case you skimmed that number; FOUR-HUNDRED AND ONE POINT FIVE KILOS!

However, once we delve into the world of lifting weights and bench pressing, you’re then confronted by a choice—incline vs. flat bench. So let’s look at the benefits of the bench pressing with either set.

Pressing with a Flat Bench

Pressing with an Incline Bench

Can press using a barbell, dumbbells, with a weight machine or a cable machine.

Can press using a barbell or dumbbells.

Muscles activated while flat bench pressing are: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, traps (secondary use), back (secondary use).*

Muscles activated while incline bench pressing are: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, traps (secondary use), back (secondary use).*

A change of grip stance activates your muscles in different ways.*

A change of grip stance activates your muscles in different ways.*

Strengthens and develops entire chest muscles.*

Balances and sculpts your muscles.*

Works almost all chest muscles—limited use of upper pectoral muscle.*

Works many chest muscles—focus on upper chest muscle or shoulders (depends on incline degree).*

Best used with heavy weights, low reps.

Best used for lighter weights, higher reps.

You can use more weight in flat bench press workouts.

Considered safer as there’s less stress on pecs, shoulders and rotator cuff - injury-prone areas.*

Higher injury risk as the athlete can press hefty weights.

Great for bodybuilding.*

Great for bodybuilding.*

Offers your workouts a fuller range of motion which allows for better muscle gains.*

Among the most common causes of shoulder injuries. 

Studies show better muscle activation for biceps over triceps.*

*Assuming movements are executed correctly.

Whether you’re performing an incline, flat or decline bench press, all are viable ways to build muscle in your chest and majorly use the same muscles groups to perform the exercise. What differentiates the exercises are the way the muscles are used.

In short, a flat bench press will add overall mass and strength to your upper body and the chest muscles. Whereas the incline press will focus on the upper chest muscles to help balance out your chest development. Depending on what you want to achieve from your bench press session, you will determine the best press position. 

What’s for sure is that whether you’re building your chest or legs—whatever muscle, you should never train the same muscle group/s two days in a row as this overtrains your muscles and can lead to some pretty nasty injuries. Working out a chest routine or timetable will help you keep on top of this, and given this is such a popular exercise, there are many resources available online or people you can talk to.

Ultimately, the best bench to purchase is an adjustable bench that can be altered to be in an inclined, flat or declined position—especially if bodybuilding is your goal, you’ll need variation in your training to further you. With an adjustable bench, the flexibility eradicates many limitations a single-use machine poses, meaning you can adjust the device to you and the needs of your body and fitness goal.

So now that’s established let’s look at some of our bench press equipment! Whether you’d prefer to stick to a classic bench like the ARROW X3 Flat Bench or you’re after something like the CROSS X Multi Adjustable Bench to beat the 401.5kg record—we’ve got a bench press set for you!


Southern Cross Fitness — Multi gym — Buy fitness equipment

CROSS X Multi Adjustable Bench

Southern Cross Fitness — Multi Adjustable Bench — Fitness Equipment



Southern Cross Fitness — FID bench — Fitness Equipment

ARROW X9 Commercial Adjustable Bench

Southern Cross Fitness — Commercial Flat Bench — Fitness Equipment

ARROW X3 Flat Bench
Southern Cross Fitness Australia — Bench Press — Buy Fitness Equipment




There are a few more options on our website if you’d like to view the full collection, click here. Just remember to choose the option that best suits you, your body and your goals.

And, don’t forget, if you press for the stars, you’ll only fall on top of the bench!   

Happy pressing, Team!