One Move For A Big Chest: Decline Barbell Bench Press
Quick, name the first exercise that comes to mind when I say chest training. The majority of you would say the obvious answer which is the Flat Barbell Bench Press. If any of you said Decline Bench Press it is only because it is in the title of the article.
In all seriousness, the flat bench press is the most popular chest exercise out there. It actually could be the most popular exercise overall. Just because it is the most popular in gyms all over the world does not mean it is necessarily the best. If you have not tried the decline version yet, then please continue reading. What follows could help you achieve major strength gains and muscle growth in the pecs.
How To Do The Decline Barbell
Bench Press ///
Secure your legs at the end of the decline bench and slowly lay down on the bench. Using a medium-width grip (a grip that creates a 90-degree angle in the middle of the movement between the forearms and the upper arms), lift the bar from the rack and hold it directly above you with your arms locked. The arms should be perpendicular to the floor. This will be your starting position. In order to protect your rotator cuff, it is best if you have a spotter help you lift the barbell off the rack. As you breathe in, come down slowly until you feel the bar on your lower chest.
After a second pause, bring the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out and push the bar using your chest muscles. Lock your arms and squeeze your chest in the contracted position, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again. It should take at least twice as long to go down than to come up. Repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.
If you need further assistance on this exercise or others go to the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database for more instruction and for video guides.
Why Should You Do Declines? ///
Good question. Although the decline bench at your gym may have cobwebs on it from being left alone for so long many bodybuilding and fitness experts recommend doing this exercise if you want to achieve greater pectoral development because they feel it focuses on the chest more than its flat or incline counterparts. In fact, many champion such as Dorian Yates and Jay Cutler use decline instead of flat bench because of all the shoulder problems that are suspected to be related to doing flat bench so much. You can watch their respective videos and see this for yourself.
Now there are other greats like Ronnie Coleman who do still use flat bench presses in their routines, but Ronnie also uses declines to focus on the lower portion of the chest specifically. The best advice you can be given is to try it for yourself if you want to find out all the great benefits from declines that many others miss out on.
Be Careful! ///
Although it is a great movement, you should still be cautious when doing declines, and especially if you go heavy. Always make sure you have a spotter when you do decline bench presses. Also do NOT use what is known as a false grip where the thumb is wrapped around with the fingers. If the bar slips, it is game over. Use a regular grip on the bar.
Decline Bench Press Workouts ///
Now that we have covered form, why to do declines, and safety, let's work them into your chest workout. What follows are a few workouts you can try to make sure you get all of the great benefits of this exercise. Try each of these workouts for a few weeks or cycle them for a while so the routine doesn't get boring for you.
Rest 60-90 seconds between sets
GVT was made famous by Charles Poliquin and has helped lifters from many sports including powerlifting and bodybuilding gain phenomenal strength on the lift they wanted to improve. In short, you pick a weight and go for 10 sets of 10 reps. If you go 10-for-10, then next time you move up in weight. If not, then you stick with the same poundage next time and try again.
This sounds simple, but it isn't. Be assured this can be tough.
So if you tried GVT on declines it would look like this.
45 sec rest between sets
Designed by Kris Gethin, Editor-in-Chief of the Bodybuilding.com Supersite, DTP is great for those looking to get a great cardio workout as well as trying to gain size and strength. It is 12 sets ranging from 50-to-5 and back to 50 again with 45 seconds rest in between each set. You adjust the weights accordingly so it is a challenge to reach the rep goal. This is not for the feint of heart, but if you want results, it works.
2 minutes rest in between
If you are looking to increase strength in your chest then this is a system for you if you don't want to do 10 sets with German Volume Training. You basically go for 5 reps with the heaviest weight possible while using proper form and having a spotter ready. After a 2-minute rest you add weight and go for 4 reps. This continues until you finally do a single rep with the heaviest weight you can use.
30-45 seconds rest
FST-7 has made more headlines the past couple of years than any other training system because of who all follows it. Created by Hany Rambod and used by Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, and others, FST-7 stands for Fascia Stretch Training 7. The 7 is for seven sets of 8-12 reps with 30-45 seconds rest in between.
If you don't want to do only one movement in your chest routine then add declines at the end of your workout and do the seven sets to really shock the pecs and force blood into them so they grow.
You can do 3-or-4 other movements for 3 sets each before going into declines. Just be ready for an intense seven sets at the end. It is as much a cardio workout as it is a weight training session.
3-4 Other Chest Exercises: 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, with 60 seconds rest
Despite its unpopular reputation you can be rest assured that after doing declines for a couple months you will have both a new respect for this underestimated exercise and all kinds of new size and strength in your upper torso. Maybe after you see all the progress you will make that waiting line at the gym will move from the flat bench to the decline. Just make sure you are at the front of the line.
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i tried the first German Volume Training GVT u mentioned and IT WAS AWESOME!!!
in the beginning i thought i wouldnt be able to do it cuz its my first time to try such a program but it WORKED!!! and i felt the pump and i was able to even go more after the 10 sets with different exercises.. thanks man
Good article I've been using the decline a lot more past couple months and my strength has definately increased. I went from one rep with 315 too four. It works go light and concentrate on the lower pec all the way through your reps.
If I said Declines it wouldnt be because of this artical ,I do them religously Flat bench hits my frount delitoid to much I feel the the pecs more doing declines I was always ticked off because gyms did not have a decline bench press ,my home gym has a bench that declines you can bet that . I do them off of a hoist squat rack if I fail on last rep I push the weight over my head like starting a pull over, on to the saftey racks for safe home training .
In my opinion, declines aren't the best lift for chest mass. Building it in the lower area kinda makes boob-shaped pecs. This would be good for someone who has less lower chest and too much upper, however. I just see a lot of guys at the gym who have too much lower pecs. Good routine! Just not for me right now.
I have shoulder problems and can't do inclines above about 135lbs without a popping sound and some discomfort. Rotating my shoulders down to flat bench, I can do my body weight plus 10-15 lbs before the popping and discomfort starts. Decline is smooth, no popping, etc. First question, how many days a week am I doing the lifts? i.e. with GVT, how many times a week am I doing the 10 sets of 10? Second question, how do I develop upper pecs and shoulders when I really can't do any lifts pushing out at an angle any higher than 45 degrees? Thanks!
I agree. Every time I do flat bench, it doesn't go up much at all due to rotator cuff problems. However, I have definitely seen my chest size go up with declines, so much that I haven't done flat BB bench in a year. Unfortunately, I just restarted flat to change up my workout, and it's incredibly weak now (only 185x7, as opposed to 225x4-5 with declines), but hey, at least my chest is bigger.
I prefer declines only because I have a difficult time with flat benches due to a ruptured proximal bicep tendon. Benching is easier on my shoulder which has lost power due to the injury and, does not give it like it will on a flat bench. I feel much stronger on the decline. I can follow with lighter flat benching with dumbbell's as the pecs are pre-fatigued with the declines.