Benefits of the Decline Bench Press

March 28, 2013 | Joe Giandonato

Must See Strength Training Videos

Tucked away in the corner of your gym is the decline bench. This piece of equipment is rarely used for its intended purpose, often serving as a glorified coat rack. For those of you who ignore the Decline Bench, it's time to change your attitude towards this chest-building tool. (See 3 Reasons Your Bench is Weak.)

Decline Bench Press Benefits

There's a gym myth that doing the Decline Bench Press actually flattens your chest. In actuality, the Decline Bench may be more beneficial than the standard Bench Press for building chest strength and size. (Learn other ways to build a bigger chest.) Here's why:

Less Stress on the Shoulders

The traditional Bench Press involves a lot of rotation at the shoulders, potentially causing impingement. This limits range of motion and puts your shoulders in a compromised position that can lead to injury.

Less Stress on the Lower Back

Arching the back during a Bench puts immense stress on the lower back. Doing this frequently can cause back pain, especially in the lumbar spine.

Increased Pec Activation

Benching at a decline minimizes rotation at the shoulder, shifting stress from the anterior deltoids to the pectoralis major. EMG analysis revealed that the Decline Bench activates the fibers of the sternal head of the pectoralis major.[1]

Multi-Purpose Movement

Simple adjustments such as altering hand placement or varying the degree of decline can significantly change the focus of the exercise.

Decline Bench Press How To

Muscles Targeted: Sternal head of the pectoralis major, clavicular head of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and triceps brachii

  • Lie on a decline bench and grasp the bar with a shoulder-width grip
  • Let your shoulders depress into the bench as you let the bar settle
  • Inhale and tighten yours lats, upper back and core
  • Lower the bar down to the bottom of your chest, keeping your elbows and wrists directly beneath the bar
  • Briefly pause the bar on your chest
  • Exhale and drive the bar back up to starting position

Sets/Reps: 3-5x8-15 with 1-3 minutes rest between sets

Note: If you don't have access to a decline bench, elevate one end of a bench with two or three plates. Make sure your feet can still touch the ground.

Source

[1] Glass SC, Armstrong T. "Electromyographical activity of the pectoralis major during incline and decline bench presses." J Strength Cond Res. 1997.

Topics: BENCH PRESS
Joe Giandonato
- Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a...
Joe Giandonato
- Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 153,019
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,502
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,270,518
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,626,320
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,170,372
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,683
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,256
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,395

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

Try to name a sport where athletes don't need a blend of core strength, hip stability and shoulder mobility. Go ahead, we'll wait. That's right, you...

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Perfect Planks: How to Make this Classic Exercise More Effective

Perfect Planks: How to Make this Classic Exercise More Effective

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

Building Brakes for More Speed

Building Brakes for More Speed

Heavy Rope Workout for Big Gains

Heavy Rope Workout for Big Gains

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Strength Isn’t Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Strength Isn't Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

YardBarker