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Decline Bench Press: Pros and Cons

In the domain of training for strength and stamina and building a sculpted chest, the decline bench press exercise is legendary and with little competition from any other forms of workout. However, even this something around half a century old workout style in the gym that comes with a solid number of benefits has some cons. Before learning the pros and cons of decline bench press, let us first understand how a decline bench press is done.

What is the Decline Bench Press?

The decline bench press is one of the best forms of workout style that can be effective in the strengthening of the lower chest muscles. It is one of the variations of the flat bench press. In this form of workout, the bench is kept at a position of 15 to 30-degree decline. Once you lie down in this angle the upper body is naturally placed on a downward slope. This helps to activate the lower pectoral muscles better and helps to shape your body as you push the weights away from you. These forms of workout can do wonders for your pectoralis muscles.(1, 2)

Pros of Declined Bench Press

As it has been mentioned that the decline press bench is a very effective way through which the lower regions of the pectoralis major muscles can be worked in a rather effective manner. It also works on the upper pectoralis major and also the anterior deltoids and the triceps, even if not that extensively. These forms of exercise can help you have really articulated and developed chest muscles(3). The decline bench press not just works on the clavicular head of the chest but also the sternocostal head muscles(1, 4). Arch in the back during a bench press can put immense stress on the back muscles and can lead to back pain. Decline bench press does not require the back to be in arch and thus prevents injury.

Being in the declined posture reduces the rotation of the shoulder while doing the bench press which is a major cause for impingement and hence injury and pain. Decreased rotation shifts the stress from anterior deltoids to the pectoralis major muscles. The decline bench press is also found to activate the fibers of the sternal head of the pectoralis major.(5)

Cons of Declined Bench Press

Although decline bench press can do wonders for your chest muscles, they can be really tiring for your shoulders. If there are any physical issues and you still choose to continue with these forms of workout it can also lead to major shoulder injuries. Once again at the time of doing decline bench press, you must pay rather close attention to the way you are holding and lifting the weight. Your grip must be really good and you need to be very mindful of your grip and also the distance at which your hands are placed on the bar.(1,5) Too far away placed hands can make pushing the weight all the more difficult for you. Hence it is always better to have a spotter along with you when you are doing this form of weight exercise. In case of decline bench press, your head and torso are at a downward slope. In case you are a fresher at this exercise regime and find it difficult, opt for the flat or incline bench press. As you get better at doing bench press, slowly try doing the decline bench press.


Finally, on a closing note, it can be said that to get the best results out of your efforts it is really important that you must divide your time and schedule in different forms of workouts and exercises. Combine the decline bench press with a flat bench press so that you can get the best results out of the regime. However, always keep in mind to perform a bench press exercise under expert supervision to avoid any injury or accidents.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504579/
  2. https://www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/exercises/bench-press/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357260/
  4. Barnett Chris; Kippers, Vaughan; Turner, Peter, (1995, Nov). Effects of Variations of the Bench Press Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 9(4): 222-227.
  5. Glass SC, Armstrong T. (1997) Electromyographical activity of the pectoralis major during incline and decline bench presses. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 11: 163-167.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 16, 2020

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