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In a decline bench press, your body lies on a slope, with your legs higher than your head. Because the angle of your arms is lower relative to your torso than in a standard bench press, the decline bench press primarily targets the lower part of your chest, or pectoral, muscles. The exercise also works your triceps and anterior deltoid muscles.
Decline Bench Press
When working out on a decline bench, use a spotter to prevent the weight from dropping on you. Sit on the bench, hook your feet and knees around the padded supports and lie back. Take an overhand grip on the bar, with your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart. Your spotter can assist you with a liftoff, if necessary. Starting with your elbows straight, inhale and bend your elbows to lower the bar toward the bottom of your chest. Press the bar back to the starting position, exhaling at the end of the movement. The spotter can help you re-rack the bar at the end of your set.
Decline bench presses work your pectoralis major muscles, or pecs. The pectoralis major, the large muscle of your chest, consists of two divisions, an upper and a lower head. The upper portion is called the clavicular head and runs from the collarbone to the upper arm bone. The lower portion, the sternal head, runs from the breastbone to the upper arm bone. Both heads adduct your arms, drawing them toward your midline. Because of the angle of your arms, the decline bench press primarily targets the sternal head. Sloping the bench at an angle between 20 and 40 degrees will most effectively hit the lower pecs.
Decline bench presses also target your triceps brachii, the muscle on the back of your upper arm. As the name implies, the triceps has three heads. One of them attaches to the shoulder blade, while the other two arise from the upper arm bone. Their combined tendon crosses behind the elbow joint to attach to the ulna, one of your forearm bones. The triceps is responsible for straightening your elbow. Taking a narrow grip on the bar in a decline bench press will work your triceps more.
The front, or anterior, part of your deltoid muscle also gets a workout in the decline bench press. The deltoid covers your outer shoulder. Its origin spans from your collarbone to the ridge of bone on the back of your shoulder blade, forming three heads. All three heads insert into the middle of your upper arm bone. The rear, or posterior head, raises your arm backward. The middle, or medial head, lifts your arm to the side. The front, or anterior, head raises your arm in front of you -- the action in a decline bench press.