Incline Bench Press over Flat Bench Press for Sprinters

  1. Ok before you guys say this has been discussed extensively before, just read what I am asking.

  2. Ok so the worry with bench pressing is the addition of unfunctional hypertrophy as the bench press would cause too much growth in the pectorals because it is a prime move in the bench press, but not in sprinting.

  3. But the pros are CNS stimulation and strenthening of the anterior deltoid and triceps which are a very important part in arm drive.

  4. Could the cons of possible gain of non functional mass in the pectorals and the pros of strengthening the anterior deltoids and triceps as well as the same neural stimulation be achieved through the use of the incline press?

  5. It works the same muscles, but the pectorals to a much lesser extent, and I would guess it would be near the bench press in terms of neural stimulation?

If the involvement of the pectorals is such an issue, why not do the benching with a narrower, shoulder-width grip, moving the emphasis from the chest to the triceps and shoulder girdle? Why not program your use of the bench press to minimize sarcoplasmic hypertrophy?

The whole matter seems academic to me, as I doubt I will ever encounter an athlete for whom excess upper body muscle mass is the deciding factor of her performance.

Yes thats an idea but its hard to approach the weights of a regular bench press with a close grip one. With incline you can get closer to the bench press number and get the greater CNS stimulation. Even with low reps(myofibral? hypertrophy) the mass is non functional because the actions of the pectorals is a non factor. So imagine an extra lb or two on your pectorals, perhaps this only slows you down .001 per 10m, but when you add that up it turns into .01, which could be the deciding factor in a race.

I had a similar idea about top athletes surgically removing their ears to reduce air resistance.

Actually I don’t feel hypertrophy is a problem with the bench press. In theory, even if you switched to incline bench press or close grip, you may gain additional mass on your shoulders or triceps instead of your pecs which would lead you to the same problem.

haha, i know its far fetched but its the only thing i could think of. Yes but it would be functional as those muscles are key parts to arm drive, so they would grow to a point(low reps keeps from sacroplasmic growth) where they would be beneficial in arm drive.

The pecs are important… they make your uniform look good.
When you look good and feel good about yourself you run fast.
Also pecs help you attract females. They like em… trust me… and getting females and having a good sex life allows you to have a clear mind and boosts yourself esteem while eliminating stress which intern can lead to better performace.

Not to mention what it does to your testosterone levels :slight_smile:

Numba56, what is your current training age (how long you have been training) and what are your current ability levels (i.e., sprint times, strength levels, etc.)

The reason that I ask is because, based on your posts, you ask some very acedemic/esoteric questions, and if your training age and abilities are relatively young and under developed than you would greatly benefit from far more training and far less pondering the idiosyncracies of strength science. I mean no offense, just some constructive criticism.

There are some great minds that contribute to this site (i.e., Charlie, Christian, David, etc.) who will always be here to answer the more elaborate questions that require much experience and research to answer.

Based on your interest in strength science, and depending on your acedemic level, if you don’t already have these, I highly recommend Supertraining by Siff, Science and Practice of Strength Training by Zatsiorsky. These two texts alone provide a trememdous amount of strength science information. Many of your questions may be answered after referencing these texts.

Lastly, keep in mind, most of the time, only the most elite athletes require the most complex training to yield improvements. It is very easy to get ahead of yourself by focusing on the trees and forgetting about the forest.

Remember that all strength is relative to max strength. So if you are a sprinter than get strong, train RFD, and hit the track. Keep it simple.

Now, if you are running 10 flat for the 100m then you may start considering the effects of your pectoral hypertrophy with respect to your run times. Once again, I mean no offense, just my two cents.
James Smith

Numba56, what is your current training age (how long you have been training) and what are your current ability levels (i.e., sprint times, strength levels, etc.)

Relatively young, Ive never sprint trained, but I did start weight training about a year ago, I naturally have pretty good max strength and sprinting ability(I never bench, PB 250 Bench, PB 405 for single in training, 250powerclean, 385 deadlift, ran a 4.4 40 @ 225, freshman year ran mid 6.9’s for 55m @235). I simply inquire because Im just curious. I try to simplify my training if you look you were to see my program, nothing special(except for the heavy ecc., I dont know why but I just like those). But a lot of my questions are out of pur curiosity as far as strength training goes, because I have my workout made for me. For sprint training i am a little foggy in that area and that is why I continue to ask “acedemic” questions on that subject. No offense taken, I do not have the funds to get the literature Id like, next on my list is Charlie’s GPP DVD and EMS. I am actually a football player trying to convert to 55/60m sprinter, so focus right now is to lose a good amount of body fat(im at around 21% @217lbs). So again I normally ask out of curiousty.

Numba56, is that freshman year of highschool or college? You said that you are trying to lean out. List a sample of your daily eating schedule and I will give you some ideas. Questioning everything is great. You are right to question and be curious.
James Smith

When I was a freshman in highschool, Im now a junior. Ive only ever weight lifted and my diet is pretty bad, I eat whatever is around, so I know this is a huge factor, also after a lay off from injury(been four weeks now). I plan to follow John Berardi’s 7 rules/principles, w/e they are. I recently timed my splits, not trying to make excuses but it was cold as hell and i could feel the wind that day blowin into me. 10m-1.85, 20m-3.05, 30m-4.04, Ive made a training program and can send that to you if youd like to see it. I am going to start GPP on monday, i plan for this to last around 6 weeks, then start my regular block rotation as far as strength, but for speed focus on acc. until Im satisfied with that, then develop max V. I plan on running the 55m and 60m next year and you can see my goals below, I think these are attainable given my body fat and lack of sprint training.

You’re only overcoming air resistance here. You don’t need a lot of shoulder/arm strength to be able to cycle your arms at a fast rate, so either way the adaptations will be general.

Also, if you’re still playing football, extra upper body mass would not be a bad thing!

True but I am going to train as if Im not going to play football, then when pre season roles around make my decision based on the times im running.

Bench press stimulates more motor units than any other pressing movement and is therefore the best choice to raise organism strength.

Numba56 send me your training schedule and diet at and I will review it and give you suggestions/modifications.

It is great that you are developing your level of insight at such an early stage (i.e., highschool). My experience lies in strength/power development, not so much sprint training per se, therefore any assistance that I can be to you will revolve around strength/power gains and diet recommendations.

John Berardi has excellent information, with respect to nutrition, way to go on discovering him.
James Smith