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Top 10 Decline Bench Press Alternatives

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Are you experiencing discomfort or unease during your decline bench press sessions?

What happens if you don’t do a decline bench press? 

The pursuit of a well-defined lower chest can often be accompanied by challenges like shoulder strain, neck tension, or limited access to suitable equipment. In these moments of dissatisfaction, seeking alternatives transcends mere preference; it becomes a response to a significant pain point.

If you decide to leave out the decline bench press exercise from your workout regimen, it won’t have any major detrimental effects. Just one of the many exercises, the decline bench press, targets the lower chest muscles. Moreover, there are many alternative exercises targeting pectoral muscles that can effectively train your chest, such as…

  1. Inclined Bench Press
  2. Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
  3. Push-ups with feet elevated
  4. Parallel Bar Chest Dips
  5. Cable Crossover
  6. Chest Press Machine
  7. Cable Triceps Pushdowns
  8. Decline Dumbbell Chest Fly
  9. Decline Floor Press
  10. Dumbbell Pullover 

10 Effective Decline Bench Press Alternative Exercises

Inclined Bench Press

Incline Bench Press

Proper Technique:

  • Adjust an incline bench to the desired angle, typically between 15 to 30 degrees. Ensure it is stable and secure.
  • With your feet flat on the ground, take a seat on the inclined bench and recline. For stability, make sure your back is placed firmly on the bench.
  • Take a slightly wider hold on the barbell than your shoulder width. It is best to have your palms facing away from you.
  • After unracking the barbell, carefully drop it to your upper chest, slightly below your collarbone.
  • With your arms extended fully, push the barbell back up to the starting position.
  • As you lower the barbell, take a breath and release it as you press it back up.

Benefits:

The inclined bench press is a weightlifting exercise that offers targeted benefits for upper body development, with an emphasis on the upper pectoral muscles. It helps to sculpt and define the entire chest area while also engaging the anterior deltoids for comprehensive shoulder development. The incline bench targets balanced chest muscle growth, providing stability and back support during exercise, making it suitable for those with lower back concerns.

Decline Dumbbell Press

Decline Dumbbell Press

Proper Technique:

  • Place the dumbbells or weights on your thighs while sitting on a regular flat bench, one in each hand.
  • Raise the weights to shoulder height while lying back on the bench with your hands facing the front.
  • Choose between holding the dumbbells with a regular grip, which has your hands facing away, or a neutral grip, which has your palms facing each other.
  • When you reach your arms straight above your chest, press the weights upward.
  • Ease down the dumbbells to the sides of your chest while keeping control and slightly bending your elbows.
  • As the weights are lowered, take a breath and release it as you raise them again.

Benefits:

The decline dumbbell press is a versatile exercise that promotes balance and addresses strength imbalances between the arms. It engages chest wall muscles and supporting muscles for overall upper-body stability, with a greater range of motion than a barbell press. It also allows for weight adjustment to suit various fitness levels and promotes enhanced definition through pectoral muscle isolation.

Push-ups with feet elevated

Proper Technique:

  • Put yourself in the classic push-up position, but instead of placing your feet on the ground, place them higher on a bench, step, or box.
  • Hold your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, keeping your head and heels in a straight line.
  • Maintaining a straight body, bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the floor. Make sure your chest touches the raised area.
  • Extend your elbows and push through your palms to get back to the beginning position.
  • Breathe in as you lower yourself and out as you raise yourself back up.

Benefits:

Elevating your feet during push-ups not only raises your stance but also heightens the effectiveness of this timeless exercise. This variation adds intensity, placing a concentrated focus on activating the lower pectoral muscles while simultaneously engaging the shoulders and triceps. The elevated position also demands increased activation of core muscles, fostering overall core strength. 

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Parallel Bar Chest Dips

Proper technique:

  • Find bars that are roughly shoulder-width apart, either parallel or dip. Make sure they are strong and safe.
  • Place your hands on each of the parallel bars and hold them with your palms facing inside. Raise yourself to a standing position with your feet off the floor and your arms extended fully.
  • Lean slightly forward, bend your elbows, and let your chest drop between the bars to lower your body.
  • Until your upper arms are parallel to the ground or just slightly lower, descend until your chest feels stretched.
  • Return to the beginning posture by pushing through your palms and extending your elbows.
  • Breathe in when lowering your body and out when raising it back up.

Benefits:

A suitable alternative to the decline bench press, parallel bar dips offer a potent combination of benefits for upper-body strength and muscle development, effectively targeting the chest, shoulders, and triceps, promoting well-rounded upper-body strength. The engagement of the anterior deltoids and triceps adds to the exercise’s effectiveness. Beyond muscle development, chest dips require core stabilisation, enhancing overall core strength.

Cable Crossover

Proper Technique:

  • As you set the pulleys to the desired height, stand in the centre of the cable machine. Decide on the right weight for each side.
  • Take hold of a handle in each hand, palms down. Step forward, keeping your balance by putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Maintain an erect stance while extending your arms forward and bending your elbows slightly. Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the handles downward and inward across your body, crossing them in front of you. Throughout the exercise, keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Squeeze your chest and triceps until the exercise is over, then slowly move the handles back to the beginning.
  • Breathe in as you spread your arms, then out as you bring.

Benefits:

An alternative to using a decline bench press, this adaptable strength-training exercise effectively isolates the chest muscles, ensuring continuous tension across the entire range of motion. Utilising adjustable pulleys to accommodate various angles facilitates precise targeting of different areas of the chest, including the lower and inner chest muscles. Cable crossovers engage the chest, shoulders, and triceps, promoting balanced chest development and upper-body strength.

Chest Press Machine

Proper Technique:

  • Adjust the seat height and confirm that the handles or grips are in line with your chest.
  • Maintaining your feet level on the ground, sit on the machine with your back pressed firmly against the pad.
  • With your hands, hold the handles or grips at or just below chest height.
  • To push the grips away from your body, completely extend your arms.
  • Bend your elbows and bring the handles back to your chest in a controlled manner.
  • When you inhale, lower the handles, and when you exhale, press them away.

Benefits:

The machine chest press stands as a valuable asset in strength training, offering a guided and controlled approach to target the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Providing a secure range of motion, it minimises the risk of improper form, making it suitable for beginners and those with joint concerns. This machine efficiently isolates the lower chest, fostering focused engagement without the need for stabilisation. Its adjustable features accommodate various body sizes and fitness levels, contributing to a well-rounded upper-body strength routine.

Cable Triceps Pushdown

Cable Triceps Pushdown

Proper Technique:

  • Place yourself in front of a cable machine that has a chest-high rope or straight bar attachment. Make sure the cable is fastened firmly.
  • With an overhand grip and your elbows close to your torso, grab the bar or rope.
  • Place yourself one or two steps away from the cable machine and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. At the elbows, your upper arms should form a 90-degree angle with your body.
  • Bend your elbows to press the bar or rope down while keeping your upper arms still. Feel the contraction in your triceps as you fully stretch your arms.
  • Release the bar or rope gradually so that it can rise again under control and revert to its initial position.
  • Breathe out as you move the rope or bar.

Benefits:

Cable triceps pushdown, an alternative exercise to the decline, press emphasis on the lower chest, providing constant tension through the cable and promoting strength and definition in the back of the arms. Providing adaptable resistance, this exercise accommodates diverse fitness levels, and its joint-friendly design reduces stress on the elbow and shoulder joints. The ability to customise attachments and grip width not only enhances triceps training versatility but also works your chest, making it a valuable inclusion in a comprehensive upper torso strength routine.

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Decline Dumbbell Chest Fly

Decline Dumbbell Chest Fly

Proper Technique: 

  • Set a decline bench at a comfortable angle, typically ranging from 15 to 30 degrees, ensuring it’s securely in place.
  • Lie on the decline bench, gripping a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the dumbbells directly above your chest, arms extended, and palms facing each other.
  • Maintain a slight bend in your elbows as you decline the dumbbells in a wide arc, keeping them parallel to the floor throughout the movement.
  • Lower the dumbbells until you sense a stretch in your chest, then raise them back up, squeezing your chest muscles at the top.
  • Inhale as you decline the dumbbells, and exhale as you bring them back up.

Benefits:

Performing the decline dumbbell flyes is a dynamic exercise designed to enhance the lower pectoral muscles. Targeting both the pectoralis major and minor with a decline angle promotes a balanced and sculpted chest. This variation, accommodating an increased range of motion, permits a deeper stretch and contraction of the chest muscles. Importantly, this exercise not only isolates the chest but also places a particular focus on the lower chest for targeted development, utilising your body weight for added resistance.

Decline Floor Press

Decline Floor Press

Proper Technique:

  • Place your head below your hips while lying on your back on the floor. Your upper back should be in a decline angle; therefore, place a decline bench or support under it.
  • Lay your feet flat on the ground and flex your knees slightly.
  • Align your arms straight above your chest and use an overhand grip to hold a barbell or dumbbell.
  • Your elbows should touch or nearly touch the floor as you bring the barbell or dumbbells down to your chest.
  • Keeping your arms fully extended, push the weight back up to the beginning position.
  • As you press the weight back up, release an exhale and take a breath.

Benefits:

Especially beneficial for those with shoulder concerns, this variation potentially minimises shoulder strain. Without a bench, this exercise isolates the chest muscles with focused precision, enhancing stability through its floor-based execution. Executed with a controlled range of motion, this workout serves as a powerful complement to a well-rounded chest workout routine, fostering strength and definition in a stable and shoulder-friendly manner compared to the regular bench press.

Dumbbell Pullover 

Dumbbell Pullover

Proper Technique:

  • Lie on your back on a bench with only your upper back and shoulders on the bench. Your hips should be lower than your head.
  • Hold a dumbbell with both hands, cupping one end with your palms, and extend your arms straight above your chest.
  • Keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout the movement.
  • Lower the dumbbell in an arc behind your head while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. Feel a stretch in your chest and lats.
  • Using the chest and back muscles, pull the dumbbell back up along the same arc to the starting position.
  • Inhale as you lower the dumbbell, and exhale as you lift it back up.

Benefits:

The dumbbell pullover provides a deep stretch in the chest and lats during the lowering phase, followed by a contraction that engages the triceps and upper back during the lifting phase. Additionally, the exercise requires core engagement for stability on the bench, promoting overall core strength. With the added bonus of enhancing shoulder flexibility, this exercise stands as an effective and efficient choice for a well-rounded upper-body workout, contributing to muscle development, flexibility, and core stability.

As you explore these chest exercise alternatives, from the dynamic Cable Crossover to the targeted Decline Floor Press, each movement adds a unique dimension to your fitness journey. Remember that authentic transformation flourishes amidst variety and personalised guidance. Seize the opportunity to embark on a fitness journey crafted to match your aspirations alongside the seasoned professionals at PTSPOT. Our expert trainers are poised to sculpt more than just your muscles; they’re ready to shape a fitness narrative uniquely yours.

Propel your workout to new heights, redefine your limits, and let us stand as your ally in achieving the extraordinary. Reach out to us now and elevate your fitness experience.

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