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...
Must See
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,225,973
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,880
Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings
Views: 6,211,842

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 69,070
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 9,456
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 133,452
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

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,880
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,300
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,676
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,782
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,942

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Tips to Blast Through Training Plateaus

Beginners to resistance training can perform almost any form of resistance exercise and still make significant gains. However for the immediate and...

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

Train Like a Pro: Dustin Pedroia's Baseball Power Workout

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program