Decline bench press? (A bodybuilding guide to bigger pecs)

Decline bench press

What is the decline bench press?

The decline bench press is a resistance exercise that targets the pectoral muscles in the chest. It is a variation of a traditional bench press that places a larger emphasis on the lower portion of the pectoral muscles allowing for a fuller and stronger chest. 

The decline press can be performed on a decline barbell bench with a loaded barbell, a decline dumbbell bench with a set of dumbbells or a dedicated decline press machine. 

Which muscles are worked with a decline bench press?

The target muscles with a decline press are the pectoral muscles which are the major muscles in your chest. Although many believe it to be a lower chest exercise, there is actually no better angle for working the entire chest than the decline position. 

An incline press will put emphasis on the upper chest whilst a flat bench press will hit the midsection of the chest. A decline press, when performed correctly, will activate the entire pectoral muscle making it the ultimate press for a well-developed chest.

Decline bench press muscles worked
As it is a pressing movement, the triceps and anterior deltoids will be worked as secondary muscles. The decline bench press is a great alternative to a regular press and should be part of any serious trainer's routine. 

For bodybuilders, it is a great way to develop a larger and more defined chest, for strength trainers, it is a good way to activate fibres that are not used with a traditional press, therefore, adding strength to the muscle.

How do I do a decline press?

Decline barbell bench press.

To perform a decline bench press with a barbell you will need a dedicated decline bench. 

Many gyms will have these as fixed benches with purpose-built leg supports, others will have a low decline bench that still allows you to keep your feet firmly planted on the floor (as you would with a traditional bench). 

If you are used to pressing heavy, you will find it easier on a bench that allows you to have your feet on the floor.
Decline barbell bench press
As with all variations of bench press, if you are lifting heavy and to failure, ask someone to spot you. Having a spotter will boost your confidence in pushing for extra reps and getting the most out of each set. 

If you have an adjustable bench, this movement can be performed on a smith machine taking away the need for a spotter. 
  1. Load your barbell with the desired weight. Start low and pyramid up to your working sets.
  2. Lay on the bench. If your feet are elevated off of the floor, tuck them into the pads.
  3. Make sure that your upper back is firmly on the bench and your lower back is arched slightly off of the bench.
  4. Grip the weight just slightly wider than shoulder width.
  5. Take a deep breath and lower the weight to your upper chest.
  6. Upon exhale, press the bar in an upwards direction until the arms are extended.
  7. At the top of the movement, squeeze the chest muscles before lowering the bar back to your chest.
  8. As soon as the bar is within an inch of your chest, press the bar again and repeat for the desired number of reps and sets. 

Decline dumbbell bench press.

The decline dumbbell press is essentially the same movement as the barbell decline bench press. You will need an adjustable dumbbell bench or dedicated decline bench as well as a set of dumbbells.
How do I do a decline dumbbell press
It is harder to train as heavy with dumbbells as it is with a dedicated barbell bench set up but there are a few advantages to using dumbbells. 

Dumbbells can be lowered to the sides of the chest allowing for a bigger stretch at the bottom of the movement. At the top of the movement, the dumbbells are closed together allowing for a tighter squeeze of the pectoral muscles. 

Overall, using dumbbells will give a wider range of motion and activate more fibres within the pectoral muscles. 

Performing this exercise with strict form, an explosive positive movement and a slow negative movement will give a great pump and promote growth in all areas of the chest. 

If you do not have a dedicated decline bench or adjustable dumbbell bench, you can improvise by placing one end of a flat bench on a raised platform. 

Decline dumbbell press alternatives

If you opt to use this method, make sure that your bench is stable and that you have a sturdy stance to lift from. 

Decline machine press.

Many gyms will have a dedicated decline press machine. These are great for convenience as they allow quick weight selection making them ideal for drop sets and pyramid sets. 

Using a machine also allows for a smooth movement without putting too much strain on stabilising muscles. The only real downside to using a decline press is the rigid range of motion and grip position. 

Alternatives to the decline press.

Bench press

Incline press

Chest dips

Pec dec flys

Cable flys


Gymenix offers a selection of free training programs to suit all abilities and goals. Click on the links below for FREE access. 

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form