Decline Bench Press Exercise Guide & Tips

The belief that doing decline bench presses will flatten your chest is nothing more than a myth. The truth is that the decline bench press will help you achieve complete chest development by recruiting more of the sternocostal head of the pectoralis major muscle, or the inner pecs, which can be very hard to properly target with other exercises.

After all, this bench press version was invented for the purpose of placing a more intense focus on stimulating the chest fibers that the flat and incline versions can’t hit that well.

In addition, decline presses place less stress on the shoulders and lower back than other bench variations. Here’s the final verdict: if you’re looking to build maximum upper body power and muscle, you need to make room for this move into your routine. Here’s how to make the most out of it.

Muscles Targeted:

Sternal and clavicular heads of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and triceps brachii

How to:

  1. Lie face up on a decline bench set about a 45-degree angle with your torso fully supported and bent knees. Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width grip and unrack it, holding it overhead.
  2. As you inhale, let your shoulders depress into the bench, tighten your lats, upper back and core, then bend your arms and slowly lower the bar toward the bottom of your chest, keeping your elbows and wrists directly underneath the bar. Make sure the movement is under maximum control.
  3. Let the bar lightly touch your chest, then as you exhale, forcefully extend your elbows to press it back to the starting position.

Decline Bench Press

Recommended Volume: 3-5 sets x 8-15 reps, 1-3 minutes of rest between sets


Since the range of motion is a bit shorter, you will probably be able to handle a heavier weight on decline presses than you could for flat presses, but make sure you don’t choose a weight that’s too heavy as that would make it difficult to maintain proper form.

If you don’t have access to a decline bench, elevate one end of a regular bench with two or three plates, or instead perform decline dumbbell flyes, which offer their own unique advantages such as a greater stretch at the bottom of each rep.

Do the decline press before your incline and flat-bench pressing only if your lower chest is underdeveloped and you want to prioritize it in your training. In any other situation, leave decline pressing for after you’ve completed your incline and flat-bench sets.

You can add forced reps to increase the intensity of the exercise, given that you have a good spotter. Forced reps are performed by taking your final set to momentary muscular failure, then asking your spotter to put his hands under the bar so that you can squeeze out another 2-3 reps.

Good luck and stay tight!

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