Most of you are probably familiar with the classic push-ups. In this post you will get detailed instructions and useful tips on how to perform decline push-ups using perfect (correct) technique so you can get the most from this great upper chest exercise. The movement is the same, but the feet are supported on a bench, chair, ball or step. The upper part of the pectoral muscle (clavicular area) and the center part work harder in this variant. Decline push-ups are similar to the incline bench press, but they use the body’s own weight. This is also similar to the incline push-ups, but your body position is reversed.
Although this is called the decline push-up, it focuses more on the upper pecs. Also, because your lower body is raised from the floor, the resistance your body provides is increased compared to doing the push-up on the floor. This makes the decline push-up harder than the standard push-up.
Decline Push-Ups Perfect Technique
STARTING POSITION (PREPARATION): Get in a push-up position, placing the lower part of your shins on top of an exercise bench (ideally only your toes are touching the bench). Your head, back, hips and knees should be in a straight line. Once in the correct body position, adjust your hands to be flat on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your elbows fully extended.
ACTION (MOVEMENT): Keeping your elbows close to your body (rib cage), bend your arms so your nose almost touches the floor. Aim your chest between your hands. Pause, then raise your body up by pushing your palms into the floor to fully extend your arms without locking out the elbows at the top. Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat for reps. Do not let your hips sag or your shins and insteps to move off the top of the flat exercise bench.
Muscles Engaged in Decline Push-Ups
Any exercise where you are using your arms to push yourself or an object against gravity will strengthen not only your pectorals, but your shoulders and triceps as well.
Main muscles: pectoralis major (upper clavicular area), triceps, deltoids (anterior)
Secondary muscles: serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, subscapularis
Antagonists: latissimus dorsi, biceps, deltoids (posterior)
- Putting your hands closer together than shoulder-width will put more emphasis on your triceps.
- Similarly, a wider than shoulder-width hand position focuses more on your pecs.
- Frame-supported push-up with feet on the bench (decline push-ups). Using a pair of frames will give you a greater range of motion than with the standard push-up. By gripping the pair of frames instead of having your palms directly flat on the floor, your wrist will stay nice and straight, preventing painful strain.
- Stability ball decline push-ups. Because the exercise ball forces you to concentrate on balance, you build core body stabilization as well.
There are many other pressing exercises to target your upper chest area. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each version to choose the one that suits you best.
If you want to find more exercises for your upper chest, visit our upper chest exercises category.
Decline Push-Ups Additional Tips & Tricks
- Keep your spine in neutral alignment – your head, back, hips and ankles should be in a straight line – and don’t let your bottom lift higher than your shoulders. Continually contract the abdominals to keep a strong, straight body position.
- Keep your abdominals pulled in – avoid “swayback”.
- Keep your head in line with your spine – don’t allow it to drop.
- Throughout the entire movement your body should be in a straight line. From your heels to your neck, nothing should be bent. Be especially certain not to let your pelvis drop toward the ground, or let your butt stick up in the air at all.
The feet-elevated push-up (decline push-ups) is an advanced pectoral exercise that uses a greater percentage of body weight and changes the angle to make the movement more like an incline press, thereby activating more upper-pectoral musculature. Although you need to go deep for maximal effectiveness, try not to look up too much at the bottom of the movement so you don’t hyperextend the neck.
Furthermore, putting your feet on a surface will put more emphasis on your shoulders and upper parts of the chest. The higher the surface, the harder it gets, and the more you’ll be shifting the concentration to your shoulders. But always keep in mind that despite what you might hear in the gym or read in magazine articles about certain exercises that isolate the inside or outside, upper or lower pectorals, it is physiologically impossible to stimulate growth in any part of the pectoral muscle without doing so in the whole muscle.