Decline Bench Press - Everything You Need to Know

Decline Bench Press - Everything You Need to Know

When you first walked into the gym, did you turn and see a bench press that looked broken? It’s like the back is too low.

This rarely used gem is usually a towel rack for other gym patrons, but today is the day you knock their crap off and start using it.

I’m sure you’re aware how potent of a muscle building exercise that the barbell bench press is, right? The bench press has two other ugly sisters that can help tear your pecs down so you can get bigger. That is the incline bench press and the decline bench press.

This article is going to cover the decline bench press, how to perform the exercise, and a few benefits and drawbacks.

If you are new to the exercise, take your time with the weight. Learning how to execute this move flawlessly will allow you to build bigger pecs and will increase your bench press one rep max.

So let’s jump in.

Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press is a compound move where you are completing a barbell bench press with your back reclined. Usually, this is around -15 degrees.

Decline Bench Press How-To

Getting on these babies can take a little practice, so make sure you have something nearby to hold onto.

Once you are up on the bench, secure your legs in ends of the decline bench and slowly gasp as you do one really long reverse sit up.

Now that you are lying down, assume your regular bench press grip width — you may have to play around with hand placement.

Ideally, having a spotter give you a hand-off will help keep your shoulders locked in. As the weight is in your hands, slowly bring the weight down to your chest — pausing for one second before you start to press.

Press the bar back up, breathing out and get a good contraction on your pecs. Pay attention to your tempo and try to increase time under tension.

Rack the weight, take a breather before straining to sit back up, and hope your feet don’t get stuck in the ends… it’s kind of like a free ab workout.

Generally speaking, a simple three to five sets with eight to 15 reps will be plenty. Give yourself one to three minutes of rest between sets.

Decline Bench Press Benefits

You’d never guess a machine that seemingly never gets used in the gym would be effective. The decline bench won’t “flatten” your chest, and it could be more beneficial than the standard bench press for building strength and mass.

But when programmed into a sound program, the decline bench press can deliver the results.

There Is Less Stress on Your Shoulders.

The regular barbell bench press can involve a lot of rotating at the shoulders, which could potentially cause impingement. The decline places more stress on your pecs — leaving you with a smoother and safer range of motion.

There Will Be More Pec Activation.

When benching on a decline bench, you are able to minimize the rotation at your shoulder, which shifts the stress from your anterior delts to your pec major.

One study used an EMG analysis to reveal the decline bench’s ability to activate the fibers of the sternal head of the pec major.

Decline Bench Press Drawbacks

There aren’t many exercises that have huge drawbacks — decline bench press included.

Of course, doing the exercise wrong will lead to injuries and some pretty gnarly bruises. You’re going to need to take the time to learn how to do the exercise properly.

Don’t let your ego get in the way — you may be able to bench more on decline than you can on flat or incline bench… but that doesn’t mean you need to.

Remember, quality reps build muscle.

The Bottom Line

So should you try the decline bench press? Probably.

Look at each machine and station in the gym as a tool. Similar to the tools in your garage, each of them has a job. The decline bench is another tool in your muscle building bag.

Learning how to do this exercise and program it into your routine will push your strength and muscle gains to the next level.

Many studies suggest that training your chest from multiple angles will help build the best chest. This exercise isn’t your magical answer, but with enough consistency and progression with the decline bench, you’ll certainly see more gains than you’re getting now.

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