Decline Bench Press: How to Perform, Benefits & Expert Tips 

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The decline bench press can be an incredible exercise when performed correctly, and it may even be able to help you bust past those pesky bench press plateaus. 

However, there are some things you need to know if you want to find success with the decline bench press. 

Let’s get right into it and take a look at how to perform the decline bench press, what benefits come from the decline bench press, and some expert tips.   

Decline Bench Press Overview 

The decline bench press is a popular variation of the traditional bench press exercise that targets the lower chest muscles.  

By performing this exercise on a decline bench, with your head lower than your feet, you change the angle of the movement and shift the emphasis to the lower pectoral muscles.  

It also puts much less of an emphasis on the shoulders and triceps than other bench press variations, making it great for those with shoulder pain or for advanced lifters looking to get bench press plateaus. 

Whether you just want to grow a huge chest, add a little variation into your routine, or protect your shoulders, the decline bench press is a great exercise that everyone should consider including in their routine.  

How to do the Decline Bench Press 

Set up the Bench: Adjust the decline bench to an angle that suits your comfort and fitness level. The decline bench is typically set at an angle of around 15 to 30 degrees. Ensure the bench is stable and secure before proceeding. 

Lie Down: Sit on the bench with your feet secured under the foot pads or firmly planted on the floor. Lie back on the bench and position yourself so that your head is lower than your feet. 

Grip the Barbell: Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Ensure your grip is secure and comfortable, and your palms are facing away from you. 

Unrack the Barbell: Lift the barbell off the rack and hold it directly above your chest with your arms fully extended. This is your starting position. 

Lower the Barbell: Inhale and slowly lower the barbell towards your lower chest, allowing your elbows to bend and your upper arms to move naturally. Lower the barbell until it lightly touches your chest or reaches the desired depth. 

Press the Barbell Up: Exhale as you push the barbell back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms and engaging your chest muscles. Keep your elbows slightly tucked in to maintain proper form. 

Repeat: Complete the desired number of repetitions, maintaining control and proper form throughout the exercise. 

Decline Bench Press Video Exercise Guide 

Link: BUILD THE LOWER CHEST: Correct method using the DECLINE BENCH PRESS – YouTube 

Muscles And Benefits 

The decline bench press primarily targets the lower chest muscles, but it also engages other muscles in the upper body.  

Here’s a breakdown of the muscles worked during the decline bench press as well as the decline bench press benefits: 

Which Muscles Does The Decline Barbell Press Target? 

Chest 

One of the main Decline bench press muscles worked is the lower  chest. It helps to develop and strengthen the lower pectoral muscles, contributing to a well-rounded and defined chest appearance. 

Triceps Brachii 

The triceps, located at the back of the upper arm, act as synergistic muscles during the decline bench press.  

They assist in extending the arms during the pressing movement, providing stability and additional power.  

The triceps don’t play as much of a role as they usually do in other bench press variations, but they are still one of the main decline bench press target muscles.  

Anterior Deltoids 

The front portion of the shoulder, known as the anterior deltoids, is also engaged during the decline bench press. They contribute to the pressing movement and help stabilize the shoulder joint. 

Serratus Anterior 

The serratus anterior muscles, located along the sides of the ribcage, play a stabilizing role during the decline bench press. They help maintain proper scapular movement and shoulder stability. 

Benefits 

Targeted Lower Chest Development: The decline angle places more emphasis on the lower chest muscles, helping to sculpt and strengthen this area. It can assist in achieving a well-proportioned and aesthetically pleasing chest appearance. 

Increased Upper Body Strength: As a compound exercise, the decline bench press engages multiple muscles in the upper body, promoting overall upper body strength and muscle development. 

Functional Strength and Stability: The exercise challenges the stabilizer muscles, promoting functional strength and stability in the shoulder joint and upper body. 

Protects the shoulders: Unlike other bench press variations, the decline bench press protects the shoulders and may allow people with shoulder pain or issues to perform the bench press.  

Tips On Doing It 

Work With A Spotter 

When using heavy weights during the decline bench press, it’s advisable to have a spotter present.  

A spotter can assist you in case you struggle with the weight or need help racking the barbell, ensuring your safety during the exercise. 

Check How Far Apart Your Hands Are 

Experiment with different bench press grip hand positions to find the grip width that feels comfortable and allows for proper form.  

A grip slightly wider than shoulder-width is commonly used, but individual preferences may vary.  

Find the hand position that feels most natural for you. 

Maintain Proper Form 

As with any exercise, proper form is crucial for safety and optimal results.  

Keep your back, shoulders, and buttocks in contact with the bench throughout the exercise.

Lower the barbell under control, keeping your elbows slightly tucked in.  

Press the barbell back up to the starting position while maintaining tension in the targeted muscles. 

Potential Cons And Considerations 

Limited Range of Motion 

Due to the decline angle, the range of motion in the decline bench press may be shorter than in the flat bench press.  

This can impact muscle activation and development.  

To counteract this, it’s crucial to focus on maintaining control throughout the movement and ensuring that you lower the barbell to an appropriate depth, lightly touching the chest or slightly below. 

Works the Shoulders and Triceps Less 

While being able to isolate the chest more gives trainees a ton of flexibility and options, it can reduce the effectiveness of the bench press if done by a beginner trainee. 

The main people who should use the decline bench press are advanced lifters who are looking to get past plateaus, people who already include other tricep and shoulder exercises in their routine, and people who experience shoulder pain.  

Limited Equipment Availability 

Not all gyms have decline benches. So, if you’re planning to perform the decline bench press, make sure your gym has the necessary equipment. If it doesn’t, you can consider alternative exercises or discuss options with your gym staff. 

Muscle Imbalances 

While the decline bench press targets the lower chest muscles, it may not provide the same level of stimulation for the upper chest muscles as the incline bench press does.  

If maintaining overall chest symmetry is a concern for you, it’s important to incorporate exercises that target the upper chest as well. 

What Are The Benefits Compared To A Flat Bench Press? 

No Back Stress 

The decline angle shifts the emphasis from the chest to the lower chest muscles.  

This can be advantageous for individuals who experience discomfort or strain in the lower back during the flat bench press.  

By targeting the lower chest with a decline bench press, you can work the muscles without placing excessive stress on the back. 

However, it is worth noting that the opposite of this is true if you decide to go the decline bench press dumbbell route.  

The additional stabilisation requirements puts more strain on your back, so this is something to keep in mind if you do suffer from back pain.  

More Weight 

The decline bench press often allows individuals to lift more weight compared to the flat bench press.  

The mechanics of the exercise, along with the increased recruitment of the triceps, can contribute to greater strength potential.  

This can be beneficial for those looking to challenge themselves and increase their upper body strength, and it is a key point when it comes to the decline bench press vs flat debate.  

Setting Up Your Bench 

Adjust the Angle: Choose an angle that suits your comfort and fitness level. The decline bench press angle is typically set to 15 to 30 degrees. Ensure the bench is securely locked in place before proceeding. 

Secure Your Feet: Sit on the bench and position your feet under the foot pads or firmly on the floor, depending on the bench design. Having a stable base is essential for maintaining balance and stability during the exercise. 

Common Mistakes 

Bouncing The Bar Off The Chest 

It’s important to maintain control throughout the exercise and avoid bouncing the barbell off your chest.  

Bouncing reduces muscle activation and can strain your joints. Instead, lower the barbell under control, lightly touch the chest, and press it back up smoothly. 

Lack of Full Range of Motion 

To fully engage the targeted muscles, it’s crucial to perform the decline bench press through a full range of motion.  

Lower the barbell until it lightly touches your chest or reaches a depth slightly below. This allows for optimal muscle activation and development. 

Improper Breathing 

Breathing correctly is essential for stability and strength during the exercise. Inhale deeply before you lower the barbell and exhale forcefully as you press it back up. 

 This helps stabilize your core and maintain control throughout the movement. 

Not Using a Spotter 

When using heavy weights, it’s always advisable to have a spotter present. A spotter can provide assistance if you struggle with the weight or need help racking the barbell, ensuring your safety and preventing accidents. 

Decline Bench Press – FAQs  


What Is Decline Bench Press Good For? 

The decline bench press is good for taking the shoulders out of the equation and putting more emphasis on the chest. 

It is the exact opposite of the incline bench press, which puts more emphasis on the shoulders and less on the chest.  

Is There Any Point To Decline Bench Press? 

Yes, there is a point to the decline bench press. 

This variation is great for getting past bench press plateaus, and it is also good for people with shoulder issues or pain.  

Why Is Decline Bench Unpopular? 

The decline bench is unpopular because it is often overshadowed by the main decline bench press alternative; the flat bench. 

While the decline bench press does have its uses, for most people, traditional flat bench is going to be a better option for overall upper body muscle growth.  

Why Is Decline Bench Press Harder? 

The decline bench press is harder because the shoulders play much less of a role throughout the movement. 

We hope this article will be of use to you! 

If you put all of the tips we have given you in this article into practise, you will be a master at the decline bench press in no time at all. 

If you would like more help with the decline bench press or just more fitness content in general, head over to MovingForwards to view the rest of our content. 

Catch you next time.