Decline Bench Press: How To, Benefits, Precautions

Decline bench press (Photo via Michael DeMoya/Unsplash)
Decline bench press (Photo via Michael DeMoya/Unsplash)

Decline bench press is a popular chest exercise that targets the pectoral muscles. It is a compound exercise that helps with building strength and muscle size.

This exercise particularly helps with building upper body strength, and contributes massively to the upper body’s muscle development.


Decline bench press muscles worked

Cable fly (Photo via Gordon Cowie/Unsplash)
Cable fly (Photo via Gordon Cowie/Unsplash)

As mentioned, the decline bench press targets the chest. However, it puts more emphasis on the lower portion of the pectoralis major muscle.

This is a large muscle that is responsible for the bulk of the chest. Apart from that, there are certain other muscles that engage themselves during the decline bench press.

The compound exercise engages the anterior deltoids (part of the shoulder muscles), triceps (part of the upper arm), and the serratus anterior muscles (located in the side of the chest).


How to do the decline bench press?

If you haven’t already added the decline bench press to your chest workout routine, it’s time to consider it.

Here are the steps that you need to follow to do the decline dumbbell press:

  • Lie on a decline bench with a dumbbell in each hand
  • Secure your feet at the end of the bench
  • Keep a slight arch on your lower back
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Your head should be positioned lower than the hips
  • Bring the weights to chest level while holding it them with an overhand grip
  • Keep your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width and elbows flared
  • Engage your pectoral muscles, push the weights upwards and extend your arms
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent at the top of the motion to constantly keep tension on the chest
  • Steadily lower the weights back to chest level to maximize impact

It’s extremely important to maintain the proper posture and form during the exercise. It’s best to engage your core for better stability and balance.

You can do the decline chest press using dumbbells (as above) or you can do it using a barbell.

If you’re performing the decline chest press with a barbell, it’s important to adjust the barbell to a height where you can grab it when extending your arms with a bend on your elbows.


Benefits of the decline bench press

Benefits of bench press (Photo via Alora Griffiths/Unsplash)
Benefits of bench press (Photo via Alora Griffiths/Unsplash)

The following are the benefits offered by the exercise:

Targets lower chest muscles

Many chest exercises, such as bench press or incline press, target the upper pecs. The decline chest press is an important exercise to work on your lower chest muscles and to properly develop the chest.

Improves upper body strength

Considering it’s a compound movement, the exercise targets more than one muscle group. As a result, it helps with improving more power and strength.

Increases muscle activation

The decline bench press helps with activating more muscle fibers in the pectoral muscles as compared to other bench press variations.

Helps with improving bench press technique

The exercise helps with a different angle of bench press, and helps with breaking plateaus and progressing with heavier weights.

Enhances overall athletic performance

Since this exercise contributes heavily to improving upper body strength, it also improves athletic performance as an extended benefit. This can be beneficial in a number of sports such as football, basketball, and other contact sports.


Precautions to take during the exercise

TRX chest exercise (Photo via Anastase Maragos/Unsplash)
TRX chest exercise (Photo via Anastase Maragos/Unsplash)

Similar to all compound exercises, there are certain precautions that you need to take during the decline bench press:

  • Always warm-up
  • Start off light
  • Correct your form
  • Use a spotter
  • Don’t overtrain
  • Use your feet and core muscles to properly stabilize your body

A declining bench press should hold an important part of your chest routine, but is often overlooked. While upper pecs are important for chest development, ignoring the lower part of your chest muscles will result in incomplete development of the muscle group.

You should aim to do at least six to eight hard sets of decline bench press in a week along with other compound exercises that target the pectoral muscles.

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Edited by Shubham Banerjee