The Decline Bench Press — A Viable Bench Press Alternative

decline1The decline bench press is a solid exercise that in my opinion does not get enough recognition. Built upon the same basic principles as the traditional bench press, the decline bench is a great exercise for someone looking to carve out their lower chest. Equally important, this press exercise is also awesome for people that might feel like they have hit a plateau, or at the very worst feel like they just need a change of pace.

This exercise works very similar muscle groups as the traditional form of the bench press but puts more emphasis on the lower chest, triceps and shoulders. If done properly, it can be a great rotational exercise and give you a nice break if you are tired of doing dumbbell bench presses or standard barbell bench presses.

The Proper Decline Press Form:

Form is always important to prevent injury and the decline bench is no different in that arena. It’s especially important for folks with some type of shoulder injury or muscle strain to be careful and start off going light for this exercise. Typically speaking, you should be able to go about 10% to 20% heavier on your decline bench presses over your traditional bench press exercises just due to the angle at which the exercise is done. Personally, I find that due to the angle, the decline bench press is absolutely fantastic for building a killer set of triceps. I prefer to hold my grip a little closer in and force more of the emphasis on my shoulders and triceps just to get an extra push out of those muscle groups.

How to do the Decline Bench Press:

  • Once the weight is loaded on the bar, lower yourself onto the bench lightly.
  • Arch your back slightly similar to the traditional bench press.
  • I prefer to use a closer grip when grabbing a hold of the bar.
  • Using a closer grip will also work more of the interior pectoral muscles.
  • Lower the weight down to a 90 degree angle just above the chest, near the sternum.
  • Raise the barbell back up and rinse/repeat.

Here is a brief video of how to do a proper decline bench press:

When should I Incorporate the Decline Press?

Now that you’ve gotten a good overview of what the decline bench press is and how to incorporate it into your workout, I will provide you some suggestions as to when you should add this exercise to your routine. Because I do a full body workout 3 days per week, I typically rotate this out with my normal chest exercises scheduled on my 3rd workout day (keep in mind I workout 3 days a week, so this would fall on a Friday). I usually try to add it to my routine at least once every 12 weeks for a 4 week period of time.

Should I sub out traditional Bench Presses?

If I pick an exercise to sub this out for, I always alternate this in lieu of the traditional bench press as I feel like doing both this and the traditional bench press is overkill. It’s especially too much if you are working your chest more than once per week. I typically rotate out my Friday bench press rotation with some type of compound chest exercise to keep me moving and provide me with a little variety to help increase my strength. As always, It’s highly important to remember that no matter what, in order to achieve the goals you are looking for, it’s imperative that you have an appropriate nutrition and supplementation plan worked out in advance to maximize your results.


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