I hope I didn’t come across as arrogant when I said that Decline presses are a dumb exercise. Plenty of people would agree that every exercises has it’s place and it depends on application.
Remember, that list is my opinion and I understand if people enjoy doing them. So, I won’t criticize anyone for doing them, just will give you better reasons than I did with Burpees. Burpees are dumb. All the time no matter who is doing them. Dumb.
No matter what the exercise, you must answer the question.
Why am I doing this?
1. Am I preparing for a competition in which this exercise is part of?
2. Is this exercise directly assisting the increased performance of another exercise I will be tested on?
3. Does this exercise have a direct correlation to performance of a non strength training exercise movement such as sport?
4. Is this exercises addressing an muscular imbalance?
5. Is this movement directly responsible for the hypertrophy of a muscle group that will increase performance or aesthetics?
6. Is this exercise intended to activate or pre-exaust a muscle group for increased motor recruitment of a particular agonist or synergistic?
If the answer is no to all of those questions then remove the exercise from your program. If you answered yes to any of the questions or if you answered no to all, but thoroughly enjoy performing the exercise then there are another set of questions.
A. Risk-Reward Ratio. Are the benefits of the exercise higher than the risks associated with it?
B. Is there a better alternative? Is there an exercise that is safer and/ or has a more direct correlation to the goals you set?
If you answered yes to the first and no to the second, then that exercise is worth doing. I am a big offender of doing exercises I like as opposed to exercises I need.
Why I am not a fan of the decline press
So, specifically with the decline press, there are some aspects that make it an exercise I feel is not worth doing. This may be specific to my preferences in an athletic setting, but hopefully you can see parallels.
1. Risk-Reward. Like I stated above, I don’t think the benefits of hooking myself on a decline bench, hanging upside down and bringing a weight down to my chest is worth the « lower chest gains ».
2. Logistics. Finding a fixed decline bench in a gym nowadays is virtually impossible. Unless of course you put on your Zubaz pants, your stringer tank top, grab your fanny-pack and go back in lift in the 80s. You just cant find them unless the guy that owns your guy was the 1987 state bodybuilding champion. So, you stuck with an adjustable decline bench or one you roll into a power rack. The set up can lead to too many factors in getting the bar set up. You are hanging from the feet attachments so there is no way to slide forward or back to get into the proper position.
3. Better alternative. I get it, most people can decline more than they can incline due to more favorable mechanical leverages. This is the entire reason bench press competitor use an arch or when someone lifts their ass of the bench. This is creating a mechanical advantage. A slight incline can be replicated by a a proper (for competition) bench set-up.
4. People are not as strong hanging close to upside down. With blood rushing you your head, a very high incline can fluctuate blood pressure and induce light-headedness.
5. You don’t have a « lower chest ». Yes activation of motor units of the pectoralis major is definitely higher with the lower portion near the lower sternum.
Electromyographical Activity of the Pectoralis Muscle During Incline and Decline Bench Presses.
Glass, Stephen C.; Armstrong, Ty
But, is this slight change in motor unit recruitment worth implementing the exercise?
6. Safety. Listen for no other reason, if you get out of the groove on a decline press and the bar gets higher than the lower pecs or upper abs; all of that pressure falls on the the gleno-humeral joints. We talk about impingement issues with exercises like the upright row. Now add gravity. I just think if you are stuck off the check on a bench press, it stays there. If you are stuck of something gives on a decline; you are decapitated.
I hope this helps, Kris. I never want to sound arrogant but when some say there are doing decline presses, I urn my head like a dog that hears a whistle and ask, « Why? »