You guys may not remember but in the very first Pump It Up column, we started on the chest/pectoral area with the goal of developing this muscle group on the flat bench press. This time we’re going take it up a couple of notches by shifting the angle of the bench: the incline-press position to target the upper portion of the pectoral area and the decline press for the lower portion of the chest.
These exercises can be done either on a Smith machine or on an open bench. If you use an open bench, you'll need a spotter as well as the collars fitted on the bar to keep the weight/plates locked and stable.
Start with the decline press by lowering the upper portion of an adjustable bench just a few inches (roughly 20 degrees) below horizontal. If available, you can use a sit-up/decline bench under the Smith machine.
Center the bench under the bar. Always start with a warm-up set with just the bar to ensure that you are in a comfortable position. Your grip should be just beyond shoulder width.
Once you’re in position, the goal is to do four sets. For the first set, load enough weight to perform 10—12 repetitions. For the second set, enough for 8—10 reps. For the third, add enough for 6—8 reps. For the last set, I like to finish by dropping enough weight to get 10—14 reps. This method will isolate the work on your lower pecs. Always remember to breathe in on the way down, and breathe out as you push the weight up.
Next, we move to the incline bench press. If you're using an adjustable bench, raise the back to 45 degrees, or a position roughly between flat and upright. Almost any degree of positioning you choose is going to put more emphasis on your upper pecs.
Apply the same method here as with the decline press: One warm-up set with no weight on the bar to get comfortable followed by the same four-set workout. Once again, use discretion when selecting the amount of weight.
Keep in mind that the decline position is usually easier than the incline press. Both exercises will require the use of your shoulders and triceps to some degree, but focus on your chest. As always, poor form equals poor results. If you feel any discomfort before or during the exercises, consult a physician. Train hard, play harder.