There aren’t too many exercises where you can get the benefits of both power and isolation as most powerful movements are compound in nature. However, there is one exercise, while essentially a compound power movement, helps isolate a muscle group that many guys try to target – the chest. The movement? The decline bench press. This unique move allows you to place a very heavy weight load on the muscles while at the same time targeting the chest muscles in particular.
Some of the very best professional bodybuilders actually employ the decline bench press as their primary chest building exercise. Why? They are concerned that the other two major styles of bench press, the prone and the incline, tend to bring too many other muscles into the picture. They like the decline bench press because it isolates the chest muscles and gives the chest a tremendous workout. The decline bench press specifically takes the shoulder muscles out of the action.
It turns out the bodybuilder’s hunch about the decline bench press is correct. In a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research article (Glass and Armstrong, August 1997), researchers found that the decline bench press was able to significantly increase the activation of the lower pectoralis major compared to other movements. That’s where the majority of the muscle lies, and the decline bench press nails this region hard.
As you perform the decline bench press your body is tilted back and the bar travels at a different angle than it does with traditional bench pressing. With this slightly different angle, some people discover that they are able to lift more weight from the decline position than they can from the prone bench press position. Dorian Yates, multi Mr. Olympia, liked to use the decline bench press above all others as he felt it shifted more emphasis to the pecs instead of the front deltoids. You would frequently find the decline bench press in Dorian’s chest routine.
One other factor in installing the decline bench press in your workout – don’t make it a marginal, minimally used factor. Instead, make it the main show for a cycle or two of chest training and watch how your chest responds. Prioritize it and put the decline bench press at the front end of your routine where it gets the best training results. Get in several sets each workout of this wonderful chest building tool.
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This article by Paul Becker was published with his permission. Paul, a bodybuilder and fitness expert, is the owner and operator of TrulyHuge.com. Click the link to his website for more workout tips.