Is The Decline Bench Press A Waste Of Time?

decline bench press
May 16, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “is the decline bench press a waste of time?”. The decline bench press is a controversial exercise that divides opinion.

There are people who prefer it over the bench press. Other people believe that it is a completely pointless exercise. I will explore this topic in further detail and present both viewpoints.

Is The Decline Bench Press A Waste Of Time?

Personally, I feel like the decline bench press is more of an ego boosting exercise than anything else. There is nothing that the decline bench achieves that can’t be achieved with the flat bench press.

There is also a high risk of injury with the decline bench press. If you fail a rep with a heavy weight there is a chance that the bar can crush your neck. This is especially if you perform declines alone with no spotter.

Whilst the flat bench can be dangerous as well, it is not as risky as the decline bench press. Other exercises like weighted dips are superior to the decline bench. 

It is true that the decline bench press can get you acclimated to handling heavier loads. However, you can accomplish the same thing by doing bench press lockouts or benching using the slingshot.


decline bench press

Greater Injury Risk Than Flat Benching

The biggest mark against decline bench pressing is the injury risk. There are risks involved with the flat bench press as well. Shoulder injuries and pec tears are the most common.

However, heavy decline benches can cause the bar to crush your neck on failed reps. This is if you bench alone without a spotter. There is simply no advantage gained from decline benching that can make up for the risks.

In addition, as the decline bench press will have you using heavier weights than the flat bench, injuries will be more severe. It is like saying that half squats are better than full squats.

Whilst having a stronger full squat will mean that you will have a stronger half squat, the aim when training should be to build muscular strength and size. The decline bench range of motion is less and the muscles are not put under the same tension.

Lower Pec Development

Now I am going to talk about lower pec development. The decline bench press is commonly touted as being a better exercise for working the lower pecs than the bench press.

Most people are not lacking in lower pectoral development. The flat bench works this area really well and therefore few people have a problem in this department.

Because the decline bench press involves a smaller range of motion, your pecs aren’t under the same tension as they are on the flat bench press. Whilst you can handle heavier absolute loads on the decline bench press, the flat bench is superior.

This is one of the reasons why the flat bench is the most popular bench pressing variation and it is also a competition lift in powerlifting. 

Makes You Comfortable Handling Heavier Loads

One purported benefit of the decline bench press is that it makes you more comfortable with handling heavier loads on the bench press. As you are a lot stronger on decline benching, you will get to hold much heavier weights in your hands.

This is a mute point as the same thing can be accomplished far more safely on the flat bench. You can do bench press lockouts on the flat bench to overload the movement.

You can also introduce slingshot or band training on the bench to overload the exercise and get yourself acclimated to heavier loads.

Previously on this site I have discussed how to overload the bench press.

Another benefit of the decline bench press is that it tends to be slightly kinder on your shoulders. You are able to keep your shoulder blades back a bit easier on the decline bench press.

However, if you learn how to do the flat bench press in a powerlifting fashion, you will be able to keep your shoulders healthy. It is very important to keep your shoulder blades pinched back and together. This is especially important as the weight gets heavier.

big bench press

Jason Blaha’s Views On The Decline Bench

Jason Blaha is a popular and polarising figure in the fitness community. He has an interesting take on the decline bench press.

He calls it an overrated exercise and says that it doesn’t achieve anything that can’t be achieved with the flat bench press. The flat bench is also safer than the decline bench.

I agree with those views, I also believe that the decline bench press is an overrated exercise. Many people do it to boost their egos and to say that they bench pressed a heavier weight.

Blaha also explains that weighted dips are superior to the decline bench. Again this is very true – whilst the weighted dip carries injury risks, it is a better strength and size builder.

Getting brutally strong on the weighted dip will transfer a lot better to other pressing exercises than the decline bench press will.

Final Thoughts

Is the decline bench press a waste of time? The simple answer is yes. Ultimately, the benefits of this exercise don’t exceed the risks. The flat bench press is a better exercise and the weighted dip is also superior.

You would be better served doing other bench pressing variations like the flat and incline. Even hammer strength bench pressing machines are better and safer for overall pec hypertrophy than the decline bench.

I would go as far as to say that hammer strength bench machines are even better for hypertrophy of the pecs than the free weight bench press. This is one of the reasons why many bodybuilders use those machines.

If you would like to share your views regarding the decline bench, please do so in the comments below.

As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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