The pushup is one of the best exercises you can do to develop your chest and upper-body strength.
It’s one superb move that requires only your body weight as resistance.
Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite bodyweight exercises to build core strength and a bigger chest.
Today, I want to particularly focus on building the upper chest muscle called the pectoralis major. It’s one area of the chest I know many men want to build for v-neck shirts.
One of the best push-up variations to target the upper chest is the decline pushup.
The decline push-up is done the same as the regular pushup instead your feet are elevated. This puts your body at a downward angle.
It’s an advanced and more challenging version of the standard pushups.
Not only this pushup variation works your pectoralis major, but it also works the front of your shoulders.
The downward angle makes this pushup variant particularly more demanding. Your shoulders, upper chest, and lats are forced to carry more load, yet have a smaller base of support to work with.
This puts more work and demand on the target muscle groups.
Similar to other push-ups, the decline pushup also works your triceps and your deltoids.
It also engages and strengthens your abs and core. To some extent, it even engages and activates your glutes, quads, and some stabilizing muscles in the back.
What Muscles Do Decline Push-Ups Work?
The primary muscles this exercise targets include pectoral muscles, deltoids, and triceps.
It also works your serratus anterior located under your armpit, stabilizing muscles in the upper back, glutes, abs, glutes, and quads.
Primary Target Muscles:
- pectoral muscles (chest)
- anterior and medial deltoids (shoulders)
- triceps brachii (back of arms)
Secondary Target Muscles:
- serratus anterior (under your armpit)
- abdominals (core)
- Stabilizing muscles in the upper back
How to Do a Decline Push Up
You’ll need a raised surface like a bench, box, or chair to do decline pushups.
The higher the surface, the harder the exercise will be. If you’re new to the decline pushups, start with a low surface, like a curb or step. You can increase the height over time.
For safety, be sure to use a sturdy object to elevate your feet.
- Position your bench behind you. Stand face away from the bench and kneel down. Put your hands on the floor, and position your feet on top of the bench. Adjust your feet so your feet are hip-width apart. Get into the start position by bringing your shoulders over your wrists and bending your elbows at 45 degrees.
- Engage your core, glutes, and quads. Lower your chest to the floor by bending your elbows, keeping your back and neck straight. Pause for a second at the bottom before coming up.
- Push into the floor to come back to starting high-plank position.
- Complete 2 to 4 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.
Stop doing this exercise if you feel pain in your wrists, elbows, or shoulders.
Decline Push-Up Benefits
The main benefit of declining push-ups is building bigger, stronger upper chest muscles.
In a decline pushup, your upper pecs and shoulders work against gravity and carry the most resistance. It allows you to maximize the use of the upper part of your body while maintaining the engagement of your core, legs, and back.
When done in the proper form, this exercise builds strength and stability throughout the body.
For those looking for strength in the stabilizer muscles in the shoulder region, this exercise is a great fit.
The decline pushup is an advanced version of a floor pushup.
With your feet elevated, this decline angle creates more resistance and forces you to work against gravity.
As an advanced move, this pushup variation takes time to perfect and learn properly. Be sure to master the proper pushup technique before trying this variation.
If you are new to this pushup, start with a lower bench, as it reduces the amount of resistance placed on your upper pecs and shoulders.
If you are recovering from a shoulder injury, this workout may not be fit or safe. Be sure to consult with an expert in your area before performing this advanced pushup.