Changing small details in exercises can sometimes have big effects. Find out how to do decline pushups and what the differences are.
Decline pushups are a variation of regular pushups where you put your feet on an elevated surface.
By doing this, more of your body weight rests on your arms. In turn, decline pushups are harder for your chest muscles, triceps, and front deltoids (shoulders).
Another difference is that decline pushups make you push at a different angle.
The higher you elevate your feet, the more decline pushups will work your front deltoids and the less you work your chest muscles.
These differences can be good or bad depending on who is doing the exercise and what their training goals are.
For example, people who find regular pushups too easy may be able to see just a bit more muscle growth and strength progress by choosing the decline version instead.
At the same time, people who have this issue but don’t want the different muscle engagement can also do weighted pushups or other chest exercises.
How to do a decline pushup
Before you can do decline pushups, you need a sturdy elevated surface to put your feet on.
Some examples of objects you can use include stairs, a stable weight bench, a plyo box, a stable chair, etc.
Once you have one of these, take the following steps to do a decline pushup:
- Sit on your hands and knees in front of the elevated platform with your face away from it.
- Put your feet on the object one after the other. Make sure they are far enough from the edge to play it safe. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched.
- Walk forward with your hands until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels. Keep your shoulders above your wrists.
- Lower your body as far as comfortable in a controlled motion by folding your arms. Keep your upper arms at angles of 45 degrees or less to your sides.
- Slowly raise your body again until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
The main things to keep in mind are keeping your body in a straight line and not moving your elbows outward too much.
If you find the exercise too challenging in terms of balance, you can put your feet wider apart.
It is also possible that bodyweight decline pushups or even the regular version are currently too hard. In that case, you can start with a variety of pushup progressions.
Decline pushups muscles worked
The main muscles worked during decline pushups are your chest muscles, triceps (back part of the upper arm), and front deltoids (shoulders).
Additionally, your abs have to work to some extent to keep your body in a straight line.
Besides that, muscles like your glutes, quadriceps, erector spinae, and hip flexors have to work a small amount too.
An interesting aspect of decline pushups is that the more decline you go, the more you work your front deltoids and the less you work your chest muscles.
No matter what angle you choose, the same principles of building muscle with compound chest exercises apply.
How many decline pushups should you do depends on your training goals.
For example, to grow the muscles above, you would do 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and even up to 50) decline pushups with a resistance where these ranges are challenging.
Bodyweight decline pushups are good enough for many people but more advanced lifters may need to wear something like a weighted vest to make the exercise challenging enough.
Decline pushups benefits
Decline pushups have a few unique aspects but many of their positive effects will be similar to the benefits of regular pushups.
A few of the most helpful ones include:
- Can help you train muscles: Decline pushups are a good exercise for growing and strengthening your chest, tricep, and front deltoids and getting all the benefits that come with that.
- Offers more resistance without weights: If you find the regular version too easy, doing decline pushups could offer just a bit more training results due to the extra pressure on your muscles.
- Can improve bone density: Putting more pressure on your bones to safe extents can strengthen them. Decline pushups can help with this.
- Allows you to focus on different muscles: Some people will find the extra focus on the front deltoids a benefit of decline pushups.
- Can help you lose weight: Doing decline pushups will require more energy than typical daily activities. Additionally, building muscle mass helps you burn more calories too. These aspects of decline pushups can help but do not guarantee weight loss.
It is true that there are other exercises that can offer these benefits too.
That being said, these positive effects could be good enough to make you add decline pushups to your bodyweight exercise routine.
Decline pushup alternatives
You may want to know what some of these exercises with similar benefits are. A few examples of decline pushup alternatives are:
- Other pushup variations
- Incline bench presses
- Incline chest fly
- Shoulder presses
- Upward cable fly
Your reasons for considering decline pushups and not loving them will influence which of these alternatives you will prefer.
Is the decline pushup a good exercise?
Decline pushups can be a good exercise for growing and strengthening your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles.
Their main benefits are the ability to add more resistance without extra weights and the slightly different ratio of muscle engagement.
Not everyone needs or wants these things but if you do, decline pushups can be a good option.
It is also possible that you were looking for the easier incline pushups instead. Elevating your hands makes the pushup exercise less challenging.
On the flip side, you may still want to make regular pushups harder but not like the different muscle engagement of the decline version.
In that case, you can consider investing in pushup equipment like a weighted vest and/or pushup handles.
Do decline pushups work different muscles?
Decline pushups work the same muscles as regular pushups but in a different ratio. More specifically, they work your front deltoids (shoulders) more and chest less.
Are decline pushups harder?
Yes, decline pushups are harder because more of your body weight rests on the muscles that move your body.
Are decline pushups better?
Decline pushups are not necessarily better for everyone. At the same time, they do offer more resistance than the regular version which can be helpful for more advanced lifters.