Building your chest does not stop with working just your upper pec. You need to target all three muscle groups to have that solid and massive form. The decline press is one of the most practical choices to target your lower chest, although uncommonly used. 

While bench press variations like incline bench press and Flat Bench Press are common in most training routines, the decline bench press is not typically seen. This valuable exercise could benefit you with a great deal of hypertrophy and strength in your chest area. So, get to know more about the decline bench press and how you will benefit from it!

This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:

  • How to Do Decline Bench Press
  • Decline Press Benefits
  • Common Decline Press Mistakes To Avoid
  • Decline Press Muscles Worked
  • Decline Press vs Incline Press
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
  • Decline Press Variations
  • Decline Press Alternative Exercises
  • FAQs About Decline Bench Press

How to Do Decline Bench Press

What You’ll Need:

  • Barbell – select a weight that’s appropriate for your fitness level and position it within your reach level on the rack
  • Decline Bench – set it to about a fifteen to thirty degrees angle

Alternative Equipment:

  • Dumbbells – start with a lighter weight before progressing to heavier weights
  • Flat bench – instead of setting the bench on a decline position, keep it flat as you perform bench presses. 
  • Cable Machine – attach a pulley high in a cable machine

Step 1: Set Up Your Equipment

To begin the decline barbell bench press, either you use a decline bench station or a Decline Bench and Power Rack Combination. Position your Barbell within your correct reach level and load the bar with a weight that’s appropriate for your fitness level. 

Step 2: Position Yourself On The Bench

Lock your feet at the end of the decline bench and slowly lie down backward. Be mindful of the bar to avoid hitting your head as you lower yourself down. Grab the bar with a closed grip (thumb wrapped around the bar) and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. This will be your starting position. 

Step 3: Unrack and Bring the Barbell Down

Unrack the loaded bar and slowly lower it toward your chest, breathing in while doing this part of the movement.

Step 4: Lift the Bar with an Explosive Push

Lift the bar with an explosive push until your arms are fully stretched, breathing out as you execute the upward motion. Repeat the movements and perform more reps or put the barbell back on the rack to end this workout.

4 Decline Bench Press Benefits

1. Enhance Lower Chest Size

The decline bench press is better at targeting your pectoralis muscle fibers compared to the flat and incline bench press. Because of this, it’s the key exercise that you need to do if you want to pump up your left behind the lower chest.

2. Stimulates Muscle Grow In The Chest

Doing the decline bench press with other pressing and dip workouts can help stimulate muscle development and growth. Perform more loading activities, do presses at different angles, and target slightly different muscle groups of the chest to achieve muscle growth.

3. Lessen Strain on Your Shoulders

Performing a high amount of pressing because of excessive loading or poor technique can lead to shoulder discomfort and injuries. You can utilize the decline bench press to increase loading on your chest muscles while limiting the engagement of your anterior shoulder that gets involved with the press. It will help you minimize any unnecessary shoulder stress.

4. Targets Your Lower Pecs

Executing the decline bench press can help promote muscle growth in your lower pecs. It’s better at engaging that muscle group than the usual flat bench press or other bench press variations, like the incline bench press, which activates your upper pecs instead.

Common Decline Bench Press Mistakes To Avoid

The decline bench press is an excellent way to add variety to your chest workout. However, there are a few things that you need to consider to guarantee proper form and technique. If you want to ensure that the decline bench press is helping with your chest development, you need to avoid these common mistakes!

Bouncing the bar off your chest

If you bounce the bar off your chest, you rely on momentum to push the heavyweight up. Doing this will increase the risk of injuries to your sternum and lessen the effectiveness of this workout.

When you perform the press, it should be slowly and with control from the beginning to the end using the appropriate weight resistance. This will ensure proper form and engagement of the chest muscles.

Not Lifting Carefully

The decline bench press will put you in an awkward position when you unrack and rack the weight. Because of this, you become more prone to injuries. When doing this exercise, get the help of a spotter, or if it’s available, you can use a Smith machine to add to your safety. 

Using Too Much Weight

Lifting incredibly heavyweights are usual for many gym-goers and lifters. However, they end up sacrificing their form and technique, resulting in an increased risk for injuries. 

If you’re having a hard time performing a full range of motion, adjust the weight resistance to suit your fitness level. Once you get the hang of it and master the form and techniques, that’s when you can add more weight to lift.

Decline Bench Press Muscles Worked

The decline bench press focuses on the following major muscle groups in your upper body:

  • Chest Muscles
  • Shoulder Muscles 
  • Arm Muscles

Performing the decline bench press will activate both the sternal head and the clavicular head of your pectoralis major. Also, if you use the proper weightlifting form, you can engage your delts and stabilizers, particularly your anterior deltoids. Furthermore, as your arms go through the full range of motion, you can train your forearms, triceps, and biceps brachii!

Decline Bench Press vs Incline Press

Both the decline and incline press targets your chest, arms, and shoulders. However, they have different areas of specialization, range of motion, and setup. 

In the incline press, your bench is set at a 15 to 30-degree angle on an incline. Because of this, your upper body is on a slope, engaging your upper chest and activating your anterior deltoids better than the decline variation. The Close Grip Bench Press is a popular variation of the Incline Press.

When it comes to the decline bench press exercise, the bench is set to a 15-30-degree angle decline position, training your lower pecs and fixing imbalances from chest workouts that lack lower pectoral muscles stimulation. 

Both exercises are highly effective in building the chest muscles and shoulders, and the only pitfall or cons decline bench press that we see is that it places the head in an awkward position and has less focus on the delts.

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:

If you’re a beginner, following a specific training program to achieve your goals can help you get started. However, this does not mean that you’ll box yourself in it. So, for rookies, to not feel awkward when you go to the gym, use our trainer’s suggested reps, sets, and programs!

For Muscle Gains

For increasing muscular hypertrophy and growth, you need to execute four to six sets of six to twelve reps, resting for sixty to ninety minutes in between each set. In this program, it uses heavy to moderate loads.

For Muscle Endurance

If your goal is to improve your muscle endurance for when you do sports, perform a decline bench press in higher repetition ranges with shorter resting periods. Do two to three sets of twelve and above reps, resting for sixty to ninety seconds in between each set.

For Strength Training

To utilize decline bench presses to build your general strength, execute low repetition ranges with more sets. Do four to six sets of two to five reps, resting for two to three minutes in between each set.

Decline Bench Press Variations

You can do these decline bench press variation exercises to match your fitness level. This way, you can either lessen the workout’s difficulty or challenge yourself to something more intense!

Flat Bench Press

If you’re a newbie to weight training, starting with the basic chest press using a flat bench would be best. Once you master the movement, that’s when you can begin exploring other angles. The flat bench press exercise execution is similar to a decline bench press. Their only difference is your bench is flat rather than declined.

Dumbbell Chest Press

Instead of using a barbell, you can do the decline chest press workout using a pair of dumbbells. With this, you’ll be able to experience a deeper range of motion and increase unilateral development in your lower chest muscle. Also, with the added stability demand, your muscles will work harder to execute the movement.

When you use dumbbells, you’ll be able to perform the exercise using lighter weights. This will give you more confidence before you proceed with using the barbell. Begin with a lighter weight and progress to a heavier load once you get familiar with the movement.

Grip Width Variations

If you want to increase the engagement in your biceps brachii, you can use a medium or wide grip. If you do a narrow grip, it will reduce the activity in that muscle group.

Decline Bench Press Alternatives

Although the decline bench press can enhance your lower pecs, it’s not enough to fully develop your chest. That’s why you need alternatives to engage other muscle groups and add variety to your workout routine!

Cable Crossovers

You can do this alternative from different angles. To engage the lower region of your pectoralis muscles, you should set up the handles in a low position, crossing them over using an upwards angle. Using cables can help you increase time under tension and enables you to customize the angle to suit your needs and comfort.

Decline Push-Up

When performing this exercise, you will place your hand on a two to four-inch platform or plates, matching the usually -15 degree incline of your chest. This is an excellent way to train your decline pressing capability before proceeding into the decline bench press and/or if you don’t have a decline bench.

Decline Dumbbell Fly

This is a flye variation that you execute on a slight decline, activating your lower pectoralis muscles slightly more than the incline and flat varieties. Aside from that, this workout may reduce the strain on your shoulder blades compared to the incline flye. This is better for you if you are experiencing any shoulder issues as you perform a flye.

The decline bench press activates your lower pectoral muscles. You do it on a bench that’s set to fifteen to thirty degrees on a decline. For full pec development, do this workout with the flat and incline bench presses. Also, to reduce any injuries, rest your shoulders and chest the day after you perform bench presses.

Frequently Asked Questions

The decline bench press can activate both the sternal and the clavicular head of your pectoralis major, and with the proper weightlifting form, you can also engage your delts and stabilizers, particularly your anterior deltoids. Furthermore, as your arms go through the full range of motion, you can target your forearms, triceps, and biceps!

You can find the decline bench press a bit easier because with the position you’re in, you reduce stress on your shoulders and back, granting more emphasis on your check, particularly your lower pecs. Also, with the decline bench, you can load as much weight as you can. 

Since the incline and decline bench press have different areas of specialization and setup, you’ll need them both to get a chiseled chest. If you disregard one of them, you won’t be able to have full muscle activation and experience the several benefits that each exercise has.

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