decline chest press exercise

Exercise of the Week: Decline Chest Press

Very impressive response for the previous exercise of the week – barbell squats, if you haven’t tried adding that to your routine definitely give it a try (hint: if it’s too challenging you can always try it with dumbbells or your hands crossed across your chest first).

This week I wanted to highlight an exercise that is the most effective in building the lower part of the chest as this area is under-developed for most men and women. The lower area of the pecs are responsible for lifting the chest muscle up and allowing you to really push out through you arms. In terms of aesthetics this area of the chest is most desirable because it adds so much definition to your overall upper body.

If you can master strengthening your lower chest with these decline chest presses then you will also be able to do push-ups much easier, and punch much stronger (great if you’re a boxer).

Now this exercise can be done with dumbbells or with a barbell. Personally I prefer doing them with dumbbells because it activates my core more, balances out any muscle imbalances from my left and right side of body, and makes me focus on a smooth and full range of motion. You can always switch from dumbbells to barbell 3 or 4 weeks in and then cycle the weeks to add variety.

Note: Remember to have someone spot you with this exercise as you start or if you are going extra heavy. It’s not worth having the weights crash down on to your chest in this position!

Muscles used:

Primary – chest (pectoralis major and sternal)
Secondary – shoulders (deltoids), triceps, biceps

Points to focus on:

  • Place legs comfortably under leg brace
  • Lie back and make sure your butt is tucked in and your back is resting comfortably on the bench
  • Raise weights with a smooth range of motion, 2 seconds down and 2 seconds up
  • Come down so elbows are about a 90 degree angle
  • The weights should be directly over your sternum (your chest bone)

Common Mistakes:

  • Bring weights too far down so elbows drop below the bench
  • Lifting of the hips
  • Elbows are not directly out in line with chest and weights are coming down towards stomach
  • Weight is too heavy and full range of motion is never achieved

Recommended Exercise Routine:

1 warm-up set of 12 repetitions with extra light weight
3 sets of 12-14 repetitions for definition and toning or
3 sets of 8-10 repetitions for strength (of course with a heavier weight)

Have any questions or thoughts about this exercise? Please leave a comment below…