Chest Training – Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press is a great exercise to build your chest mass and strength. Although lifting technique is very similar to flat bench press, you can find here the basic technique for a strong decline bench press.

Muscles Exercised:

The decline bench press focuses on your chest, and as with the flat bench press, it also exercises your triceps and anterior deltoids (delts).

Exercise Technique:

The technique for the decline bench press is very similar to the flat bench press. If you’ve never used the decline weight bench before however, the lift may feel awkward at first since you are likely accustomed to pushing the bar straight up.

  • Most decline weight benches have pads you can adjust to lock your legs into the bench. If the bench is adjustable, set it to a comfortable position where the bar rests just above your head when you lie on the bench.
  • Lie on the decline weight bench with your head, shoulders and buttocks in contact with the bench. As with the flat bench keep your head and shoulders on the bench throughout the lift. Since your legs are locked in with the bench’s pads, you should be unable to shift the position of your lower body during the lift.
  • Your grip on the bar should be wide but comfortable. For a normal width grip, some part of your hands should be on the ring in the knurling (be aware that many bars have different placement of this ring). Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety. The bar should rest on the base of your palm, with the force of the bar driving down through your wrists and forearms. Resting the bar higher in the palm will place unnecessary strain on your wrists.
  • Keep your upper body tight as you unrack the bar. Your lats and chest should be tight, stabilizing the bar. Maintain this position keeping your body tight and stable throughout your lift.
  • After unracking the barbell, lock it out at the top and control the weight before starting your lift
  • Bring the bar down to the lower portion of your chest in a controlled but quick manner. The bar should come to a complete stop on your chest to prevent bouncing.
  • Press the bar off your chest explosively toward the ceiling using your chest and lats. Continue pressing until locked out again. Pause briefly between reps to ensure you have complete control of the weight.
  • Always use a spotter when performing the decline bench press. For your working sets it’s a good idea to have your spotter hand-off the barbell to you. This prevents you from lifting the weight out of the rack at an awkward angle that can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders. It also conserves your strength for your working reps.
  • Select a weight that you can perform all of your repetitions using proper technique. On your last 1-2 sets, the last repetitions should be very difficult.
  • You will likely find that you can bench press more weight on the decline bench than on the incline or the flat bench. This is due largely to a shorter range of motion (if you bring the bar down low on your chest), and the fact that the decline allows you to activate more of your chest muscle fibers than when benching flat or incline.


  • Wide Grip: By taking a wide grip on the decline bench press you can increase the emphasis on your pectorals.
  • Negatives: Bringing the bar down to your chest very slowly on the eccentric portion of the lift may allow you to thoroughly exhaust your pecs, possibly spurring growth.

Additional Chest Exercises: Consider adding the following exercises to your chest routine:

  • Bench Press: Core chest exercise, targets the chest, but also exercises also your shoulders, triceps, and lats.
  • Incline Bench Press: targets the upper portions of the chest and shoulders.
  • Dumbell Press: forces you to control the weights and can help you develop stabilizer muscles. You can do the dumbbell press on the flat bench, incline or decline.
  • Dips: exercises the lower portion of your chest and your triceps.
  • Pushups: a simple chest exercise you can do anywhere.

Building Chest Strength: You don’t have to be a 500lb bench presser to benefit from powerlifting techniques. The articles below may give you some tips on increasing your bench press, and therefore your chest strength:


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