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Bench Press Angle & Muscle Activation

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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 8;17(19):E7339. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17197339.
Effect of Five Bench Inclinations on the Electromyographic Activity of the Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, and Triceps Brachii during the Bench Press Exercise
David Rodríguez-Ridao 1, José A Antequera-Vique 1, Isabel Martín-Fuentes 1, José M Muyor 1 2

The bench press exercise is one of the most used for training and for evaluating upper-body strength. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the electromyographic (EMG) activity levels of the pectoralis major (PM) in its three portions (upper portion, PMUP, middle portion, PMMP, and lower portion, PMLP), the anterior deltoid (AD), and the triceps brachii (TB) medial head during the bench press exercise at five bench angles (0°, 15°, 30°, 45°, and 60°). Thirty trained adults participated in the study. The EMG activity of the muscles was recorded at the aforementioned inclinations at 60% of one-repetition maximum (1RM). The results showed that the maximal EMG activity for PMUP occurred at a bench inclination of 30°. PMMP and PMLP showed higher EMG activity at a 0° bench inclination. AD had the highest EMG activity at 60°. TB showed similar EMG activities at all bench inclinations. In conclusion, the horizontal bench press produces similar electromyographic activities for the pectoralis major and the anterior deltoid. An inclination of 30° produces greater activation of the upper portion of the pectoralis major. Inclinations greater than 45° produce significantly higher activation of the anterior deltoid and decrease the muscular performance of the pectoralis major.


PMID: 33049982 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17197339





Looks like 30 degree incline is the magic number if you want to grow those elusive upper pecs.

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45 minutes ago, Tomahawk007 said:

Have you seen any studies discussing the reverse bench for upper chest muscle activation?


This study is often cited online.




I've never actually seen the FT but if you believe the secondary sources, these guys found that RGB increased "upper pec" activation by 30% over standard grip.

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