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With any strength exercise, as you become stronger, you need to increase the difficulty of the movement to continue challenging your muscles. The decline pushup, an advanced version of the standard pushup, uses your body position to vary the intensity of the exercise. Perform the decline pushup when the standard pushup is no longer a challenge for you.
A decline pushup is the same movement as a standard pushup, but your body is in an angled position, with your feet elevated above your hands. As with a standard pushup, keep your body in a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Do not allow your hips to rise or sag. All pushup variations work the same muscle groups as the bench press exercise. The chest muscles do most of the work, but the triceps and fronts of the shoulders assist.
Performing a decline pushup increases the difficulty of this simple, yet effective exercise. Unlike other exercises, it is awkward to add weight to a pushup. You have to balance a weight plate on your back, or have a workout partner hold it in place. The decline pushup makes the movement more challenging without using external resistance. By changing the angle of your body weight movement, you shift more of your weight over your hands. As a result, you press more weight than when your feet are level with your hands.
The only equipment you need to do a decline pushup is a bench, chair, stability ball or other sturdy, raised surface upon which you rest your feet. This allows you to perform the exercise without needing specialized equipment, so it's easy to do at a park or in a hotel room. In addition, by adjusting the angle of the decline pushup, you emphasize the clavicular head of the chest muscle, which is the smaller portion of the chest that sits near your clavicle. During a flat pushup or bench press, the sternal head -- the large, more visible part of the chest -- does most of the work. The higher you position your feet during a decline pushup, the more you emphasize the clavicular head over the sternal head.
Adjust the difficulty of the decline pushup by changing the angle of the decline. The higher you elevate your feet, the more of your body weight you have to press, making the exercise more challenging. Begin doing decline pushups after you can complete 12 to 15 repetitions of a standard pushup with good form. Start with a low step and gradually increase the height of the support for your feet as you become stronger.