Are There Any Substitutes For Decline Bench Press?

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The declining bench press is a version of the more frequent bench press exercise that is used to activate more of the lower pectoralis head, also known as the sternal head or the pectoralis major.

Many people, however, may find the precise downward angle at which the decline bench press is performed to be unpleasant and dizzying, prompting them to look for feasible alternative exercises to replace the decline bench press in their workout routine.

Fortunately, the decline bench press can be replaced with a variety of other exercises. There are a variety of options to pick from, with differing degrees of equipment needs and difficulty, whether your objective is to accomplish the same compound type multi-muscle group activation or to individually isolate each muscle activated by the decline bench press movement.

Are There Any Substitutes For Decline Bench Press?


What Muscles Are Targeted by the Decline Bench Press?

The decline bench press, like the regular flat bench press, primarily recruits the push-type muscles, namely the pectoralis muscle group and the triceps brachii, the former being located on the side and back of the upper arm, forming a horseshoe shape, and the latter being located on the side and back of the upper arm, forming a horseshoe shape.

If the decline bench press is performed as a free weight exercise rather than a machine assisted activity, secondary stabilizer muscles such as the deltoid heads and several smaller muscles in the forearms are also worked.

Keep in mind that if you have a rotator cuff or similar connective tissue injury, you should avoid practicing the decline bench press totally due to the mechanical stress exerted on the shoulders and clavicles throughout the exercise.


How do you do a Decline Bench Press?

The decline bench press requires either using a bench made expressly for the decline posture or altering a bench such that the legs are higher than the hips and shoulders, forcing more pectoral muscle fiber recruitment.

To decrease the risk of shoulder injury, the exerciser will place their hands approximately shoulder width apart along the bar and tuck their scapula in. The exerciser will raise the barbell until their arms are almost fully extended but not locked in place, then lower it to their chest and set it where it is most comfortable.

The exerciser will push their hands forward, lifting the bar back to its original unracked position, while the bar is resting in any point between their sternum and clavicle. This completes a single decline bench press repetition.


Alternatives to Bench Pressing That Focus on the Lower Pectoral Head

The pectoralis major muscle, also known as the lower chest muscle, is responsible for the movement and rotation of the arms, particularly the humerus bone at the top of the limb. It is one of the most prominent muscles on the torso and the primary source of movement in the decline bench press.

Fortunately, the pectoralis major muscle is recruited in a range of workouts that either isolate it or activate it as part of a compound exercise activity.


Cable Machine Crossover

To work successfully, the cable machine crossover need the use of a cable machine. The cable machine crossover, in particular, necessitates a cable machine with two cable connection points on opposite ends, as well as cable attachments that can be gripped with one hand, such as little handles or ropes.

First, especially if the exerciser has never done a cable machine crossover, it is preferable to adjust the resistance of each individual pulley or cable to a low level. While it is difficult to damage oneself while executing this exercise, it is nonetheless recommended that the exerciser begin with a lighter weight to acclimatize to the action.

To begin, the exerciser will stand in the center of the cable machine, both hands outstretched to each side, each clutching the cable attachment handles. The exerciser will brace their core and plant their feet for balance, then draw their wrists towards the front, allowing their arms to bend naturally to their physiology.

The exerciser will "crossover" their wrists or at least bring them near together to finish the repeat, squeezing both sides of their pectoral muscle group as they do so, before slowly letting the resistance in the cables to pull their arms back to the beginning position.

Keep in mind that your elbows should always stay perpendicular to your body and should never be pulled behind your shoulders, since this can cause dislocations, rips, or sprains in the pectoralis minor.


Incline Pushups

The incline pushup is a calisthenic variation of the decline bench press that can be done by anyone with enough upper body power to do a regular pushup. An elevated surface, such as a table, bench, or chair, is all that is needed to perform an incline pushup.

To do an incline pushup, the exerciser simply lowers their hands to the elevated surface, extends their legs behind them, and keeps their back straight so that their body forms an upward-facing plane.

The exerciser will next slowly descend their body towards the elevated surface, gripping their pectoralis muscles and building tension throughout their upper torso by pressing their hands firmly against the surface.

The concentric part of the exercise is finished once the exerciser's chest has come within a few inches of the surface, and the eccentric phase can begin by elevating the exerciser back into the flat plane position.

If you are unable to attend to a gym or otherwise cannot perform a decline bench press, the incline pushup is an excellent substitute.


Parallel Bar Dips

The parallel bar dip is a calisthenics exercise that uses your own body weight as resistance. It requires two parallel bars or similar surfaces that allow the exerciser to suspend themselves between their own hands, as the name suggests.

This exercise puts a lot of strain on the rotator cuff and clavicle bones, therefore it's not for anyone who have had injuries or damage to these areas in the past.

The parallel bar dip is an open kinetic chain action that begins with the participant suspending themselves between the two bars, feet dangling behind them and shoulders firmly retracted towards each other from behind.

The exerciser will raise their chest as high as they can comfortably handle by pushing downwards with their hands, while leaning slightly forward by extending their feet behind them to create compensatory balance.

When the exerciser reaches the apex of this movement, they will begin the eccentric part of the exercise by slowly lowering their body, bending their arms at the elbow, and gradually spreading their shoulders to engage the lower pectoral head as much as possible.

The exerciser has finished a single repetition of parallel bar dips when the elbow has been bent into a neutral position and the chest is no longer engaged at the bottom of the movement.


Alternatives to Triceps-Focused Decline Bench Press

The triceps brachii are a triad of muscles linked to the back and side of the humerus bone that are principally responsible for the "pushing" movement during the eccentric component of the decline bench press exercise. They are the second most active muscle group by the decline bench press.

The triceps are used in practically every arm exercise, and there are a variety of exercises that may be used to replace the muscle activation that would otherwise be lost if you dropped the decline bench press from your workout program.


Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

If the shoulder tendons aren't acclimated to the motion, the dumbbell tricep extension is a unilateral exercise that puts a lot of strain on them. As a result, it's important to do some serious upper-body stretching before doing this exercise.

To complete this exercise, the exerciser will need a light dumbbell and a comfortable place to sit so that they can concentrate on their tricep activation.

The exerciser will take a seat on a bench or another comfortable surface and elevate the dumbbell overhead in one hand, as if military pressing it. They'll alter their shoulders such that the arm atop it is perfectly balanced.

The exerciser will bring the dumbbell behind their head by bending their arm at the elbow and keeping their shoulder – and, by extension, their back – as straight and stable as possible. To aid in stabilization, one might grab the exercising arm with their free hand if necessary.

The exerciser will drop the dumbbell as far behind them as is comfortable before reversing the process and restoring the dumbbell to its original overhead position by fully extending their arm once more. A single repetition of the exercise is now complete.


Cable Triceps Pushdowns

Because the continual tension applied on the triceps in the pushdown position is only achievable with the assistance of a machine, the cable tricep pushdown is an exercise that can only be performed with a cable pulley machine.

Keep in mind that when doing the cable tricep pushdown, your primary attention should be on your triceps; any swinging of your torso or moving of other portions of your upper body other than your arms will diminish the amount of effective muscular growth that this exercise can produce.

Connect a double-headed rope handle to the machine's overhead cable attachment point. The exerciser will grip the ends in both hands and bend their arms at the elbow, bringing their hands towards their legs without bending their torso or knees.

Bring the rope ends as close as possible to your lower body, effectively locking your elbow and straightening your arms. Reduce the machine's resistance if you can't perform it without using your shoulders or bending forward at the waist.

Allow the tension in the pulley cable to draw your hands back to their raised position now that the initial portion of the exercise is complete, squeezing your triceps to optimize muscle fiber recruitment.

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