If you want to have a well-defined chest, you need to work on the upper chest muscles as well as the lower chest muscles i.e. the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.
For pectoralis major, you need to do pec deck workouts. We have already created a detailed guide on pec deck workouts and how to buy the right pec deck machine. In this blog, we will brief you about decline bench press, an extremely effective exercise for targeting pectoralis minor.
As obvious from its name, it is a variation of flat bench press. For decline bench press, you will have to set your bench in a decline position. There is no such ideal declination angle but you should keep between 15 to 30 degrees.
When you exercise on a downward slope, your lower pectoral muscles get activated to push the weights away from your body. That's why decline bench press is an extremely powerful workout for bodybuilders and powerlifters.
What muscles decline bench press work?
Just like any bench press exercise, the decline bench press too helps target the chest muscles. But, as we mentioned above, it helps target the muscles of the lower chest and helps give it the distinct shape of a bodybuilder.
Plus, decline bench press also activates and targets the shoulder muscles and the muscles in the arms such as the triceps, biceps, and forearm. Basically, decline bench press helps target all the major muscle groups of the upper body.
What you will need to do a decline bench press
These types of workout benches can be inclined, made to sit flat, as well as declined. Adjustable benches are more versatile than flat benches but they are not as durable as their counterparts. Nevertheless, if you want to start doing decline bench press workouts, you will have to buy one. We have already created a list of the best affordable adjustable benches that we recommend.
Barbells or dumbbells
Decline bench press workouts can be done using any type of free weights; dumbbells and barbells being the obvious choices.
While both seem to be equally good options, they provide different intensities of workouts and work different muscle groups too.
If you want to use a dumbbell, you won’t be able to lift as much weight as you can with a barbell. That's because you will have to spend a lot of energy stabilizing them at the top of your body. But, when you do so, you actually engage more muscles! These are the best adjustable dumbbells that we recommend for decline bench press and other workouts at home.
Decline bench press with barbells is easier than with dumbbells. That's because you won’t have to focus on stabilizing the barbell at the top. So, you will be able to lift heavier compared to dumbbells. Plus, you will experience fewer chances of injuries due to unstable weights.
Don’t have time to go through the three lists? Need a quick recommendation? Titan Regular Bar is the one of best options we have in mind for people who need a very basic barbell and have no intentions of lifting really heavy.
Please note: do not use Trap bars or open trap bars for decline bench press. They are only good for deadlifting.
We assume you should be having these but just in case you need recommendations, here are some of the best bumper plates you should check out.
If you are new to weight training or if you want to make gradual progress at it instead of jumping straight to 5lbs, you should go for fractional weight plates such as Microgainz fractional weight plates. Decline bench press is anyways more challenging than flat bench press, so it totally makes sense to add as minimum weight as you can.
Do not skip on these basic safety tools. Even if you are barely having one of two plates on each side of the barbell, make sure you always secure them tightly with a good-quality barbell collar like the ones we have chosen for you.
Squat rack/half rack/squat stands
Whether you are working out with or without a spotter, you will need at least one of these to hold the loaded barbell. If you have ample space in your home gym, you should go with full-size power racks or half racks. For really small spaces and garages, we recommend squat stands that can be pushed against the wall when not in use.
Here is an interesting article on ‘What is the difference between Squat Racks, Power Racks, Half Racks, and Squat Stands’.
How to do decline bench press
This video should help you understand how to do decline bench press exercises correctly at home without the help of a spotter.
Here are some of our tips that should further help you exercise in proper form and minimize the chances of injury.
Decline your bench to the least possible angle
If you have never tried decline bench press, make sure you do not decline your bench too much. Start with 15 degrees only and after a week or two, when you start feeling comfortable, you can try 30 degrees.
Make sure your bench and squat rack is absolutely stable
You can weigh down the rack if needed but eliminate the chances of wobbling as much as possible. Decline bench press is a challenging workout so the last thing you want is to use equipment that makes you feel unstable and unsafe.
Take your position on the bench
Lie down on your workout bench with your face up. Adjust your bench’s position so that your eyes are directly underneath the barbell. Secure your feet under the foot rollers of the bench.
Keep your head and neck in a neutral position, or else you could end up straining your neck muscles. The chin should be tucked in and your entire back should be in contact with the surface of the bench. Do not lift your lower back up. A neutral spine will help you engage the core muscles.
Your upper back should be tight and your shoulder blades should be down; not curved upwards.
Be mindful of your grip
This is the most common mistake people make during bench workouts.
Your grip should be slightly wider than your shoulder’s width. Anything wider than this will strain your shoulders and pecs instead of strengthening them. A narrower grip will be highly uncomfortable. Take some time to ensure that you have held the barbell correctly.
While training, make sure your barbell is right over your chest
This is the second most common mistake. Most people either keep their barbell towards their chin or towards their core but not right above the chest. This workout form puts excessive strain on the muscles.
Once you have taken the barbell off from the rack, move it upwards until it lies directly above your chest. While exercising, make sure you maintain this position. At no point during the workout, should the barbell go anywhere above or below this position.
Also, make sure you do not lock your elbow joints during your workouts.
Be mindful of your breathing
Inhale when you lower the barbell and exhale when you press it up. Working with your breath will help you concentrate better and do more reps.
Choose weights that are lighter than what you lift
As we have mentioned above, exercising on a downward slope is not that easy. So, go slow and choose the weight that is lighter than what you are comfortable with. You can increase the load gradually.
Are there any substitutes for decline bench press?
If you are a newbie or if you do not have enough strength and balance to workout in a sloppy position, you should be extremely cautious while trying the decline bench press. Rather, you should try these decline bench press alternatives:
High cable crossover
Some squat racks come with necessary holes where you can add cable cross over or LAT machines. Or else you may want to buy a standalone functional trainer such as the Inspire Fitness FTX Functional Trainer so you can isolate specific muscle groups of your body and strengthen them.
Other than that, we have also reviewed some of the best cable crossover machines/functional trainers that are suitable for home gyms so you don’t have to do much guesswork.
This is a great alternative for people who do not have most of the equipment you need for decline bench press such as squat rack, barbell, adjustable bench, etc. All you need is a flat bench and a dumbbell of your choice.
FLYBIRD Adjustable Dumbbell is a good option for people who are just getting started or who do not want to train with heavy weights. Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are recommended for people who are already quite fit.
If you have specific bodyweight workout machines such as Stamina 1690 Power Tower, Weider Power Tower, and Body Champ VKR1010, you can do this exercise pretty easily. Or maybe you can buy extra dip handles to add to your squat rack.
Decline bench press requires a decent amount of balance, stability, strength, and stamina. If you are a beginner, we wouldn’t really advise you to jump into it. Rather, you should go slow and start with the basic weightlifting exercises first. Learn the tricks and gain enough strength to control yourself in a decline position with weights in your hands. Only then, you should attempt to go for unconventional, challenging workouts like the decline bench press.
That's it for this article. Keep reading our website for more such informational content and genuine first-hand product reviews.