Is The Decline Bench Press Necessary?

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With so many exercise variations things can get confusing. Find out if it is necessary to do decline bench presses and why you would not do them.

It is hard to call any exercise, including the decline bench press, really “necessary”. There is almost always some exercise alternative with similar effects.

In this case, you could for example prefer the tricep dip instead.

You may not like doing decline bench presses due to their awkward positioning, reduction in shoulder engagement, or for any other reasons.

At the same time, decline bench presses can still be a good addition to your exercise routine for reasons like shoulder comfort, lower chest focus, variety, and personal preference.

Is any exercise really necessary?

The main thing to keep in mind is that it is hard to really call resistance training exercises necessary. Mostly because there are almost always alternative exercises that work similar muscles and fitness components.

As you add more limitations to a workout program, you come closer and closer to being able to call certain movements necessary.

For example, if you want to work your chest (with a focus on the lower part), triceps, and stabilizing muscles a lot and you only have time for 1 set of one exercise, you can start to get closer to saying that decline bench presses will be needed.

However, even then necessary is a big word. In this example, decline bench press alternatives like the tricep dip could offer somewhat similar effects.

In the end, you want to look at the pros and cons of the exercises that can help you work the muscles you want and choose from them. It is unlikely that there will be no alternatives to a certain movement.

4 reasons to do decline bench presses

With that in mind, you can still consider adding decline bench presses to your routine for a few reasons. This is definitely not a useless exercise.

Could be more comfortable on your shoulders

Bench presses can be a great compound chest exercise but some people find that the flat and incline versions are uncomfortable on their shoulder joints.

By doing the same exercise on a decline weight bench, your shoulders go through a smaller range of motion.

In turn, this could be comfortable and a reason to do more decline bench presses.

You want to focus more on the lower chest

Two resistance training exercises could train the same muscle groups from a high-level view but focus on different muscle fibers in different parts of the muscle groups.

For example, regular crunches will mostly work the upper part of the ab muscles whereas reverse crunches will focus more on the lower part.

Similarly, decline bench presses work the lower part of the chest muscles slightly more than flat bench presses and definitely more than incline bench presses.

This is not necessarily better or worse for everyone.

Some reasons you may want to work your lower chest more include aesthetics and performance in specific movements.

Variety to engage different muscle fibers

When it comes to training muscles it is generally a good idea to implement variety in some way or another to get slightly better results.

One way to add variety is to do different exercises for the same muscle groups and do slightly different variations of exercises you are already doing.

For example, if you are currently hitting a plateau with your regular bench press routine, it can be helpful to implement some decline bench press sets and other exercises.

This is definitely not unique to the decline bench press but is a reason to consider doing this exercise more.

You may simply like it

The physical results you can get from a workout routine are typically a big reason why people exercise. That being said, many people also enjoy working out to at least some extent.

You may simply like doing bench presses and/or switching up your chest routine.

Enjoying your workouts more can also help you stay consistent with your plan. This is needed to get the physical benefits.

2 reasons to not do decline bench presses

On the flip side, if you are wondering whether the decline bench press is necessary, you could have a few doubts about the exercise.

There are indeed reasons why you could choose different exercises instead.

You could find the positioning awkward

The decline bench press requires you to anchor your feet behind pads so that you don’t slide down.

This puts you in a position where your hips are higher than your shoulders. You could find this position physically uncomfortable and/or scary because the weights are basically above your head.

These are generally things you can get used to. However, if you don’t feel the need to do decline bench presses for any other reasons, these things could be enough to not do this exercise.

Less shoulder engagement

Regular and incline bench presses work your front deltoids a decent amount due to the angle of the movements in relation to your body.

By putting the weight bench in decline, this pushing angle changes in a way where you work your shoulder muscles a lot less.

This is another detail that is not necessarily better or worse for everyone.

If you like working your shoulders during your chest and tricep training, you will likely prefer flat and incline bench presses over the decline variation.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.