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I once read somewhere (though not somewhere very reputable) that the incline bench press will build more muscle in the upper chest, while the flat bench press will build more muscle in the lower chest. Is there any truth to this idea?

More generally, how do the different bench press variants (incline/decline/flat) affect the shape and growth of the various upper body muscles?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's true. Exrx has good breakdown of the muscles targeted by the bench press, incline press, decline press, and military press.

The "clavicular" pectoralis is your upper pec. Most of the lifters I respect make fun of decline press as a pointless exercise (because dips are better). Also, most of the lifters I respect emphasize the importance of the standing overhead press as a functional movement.

A nice little tip I picked up somewhere if you're trying to hit your upper pec is to do dips, but hold your feet out in front of you in a hollow body position. This kind of dip works your upper pec really well, and assists in the development of "slab like" pecs. Which are just way more manly looking than muscle globes.

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Excellent answer, thanks. If nobody chimes in with something better in the next day or two, I'll mark this as "best." – Doc Faustus Dec 11 '12 at 16:28
I think "slab like" describes the shape well enough. – Kate Dec 12 '12 at 4:17

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