Decline Dumbbell Bench Press: Muscles Worked, How To Do, Benefits & Alternatives

If you want to build greater thickness and strength in your lower pecs, then you should add a decline dumbbell bench press to your training regime.

Unlike the flat and incline bench press, the angle of the decline bench allows you to dig deep into the lower fibers of your pectoralis major.

The decline dumbbell bench press is also easy to learn and progressively overloaded, so it’s used by a beginner or an advanced lifter.

When performed correctly and in good form, this exercise can help give your chest the round, thick look you want.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about:

  • How to perform the decline dumbbell press correctly.
  • Its benefits,
  • How to avoid common mistakes,
  • Best variations of decline dumbbell press 
  • You will also learn some of the best alternatives to it.

Let’s dive in!

Chest Muscles (Anatomy)

The chest muscles primarily comprise the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

The pectoralis major is the large, fan-shaped muscle comprising the chest’s bulk. It has two functional subdivisions –the upper and lower regions.

  • The upper region is referred to as the clavicular head because of its attachment to the clavicle.
  • The lower regions are sometimes called the sternocostal head because of their attachment to the ribs.

Unlike the pectoralis major, the pectoralis minor isn’t visible but is crucial for functional strength and shoulder health. It is situated beneath the pectoralis major, which extends from the middle ribs to the shoulder region.

Chest Muscles (Anatomy)

What Is The Dumbbell Decline Press?

The decline dumbbell bench press, aka dumbbell decline press, is an upper body workout that engages the lower pec muscles, the triceps, and the anterior deltoid muscles of the shoulders.

As the name suggests, you have to use a bench at a declined angle to perform the bench presses.

The angle of the adjustable bench in this variation puts more tension on your lower chest muscles than a flat bench press would.

Decline Dumbbell Press

Decline Dumbbell Chest Press Angle

The decline bench press is one of the best lower chest exercises, but there’s one major problem: the front deltoid likes to dominate the movement, preventing us from getting the maximum benefit.

When you do the decline DB bench press, it’s important to get the angle of the bench correct. What angles should I use during the decline dumbbell bench press to hit the lower chest the most?

Research indicates that the correct angle for the decline bench press should be 15–30 degrees, declining from flat to target the lower chest. 

It may seem like a small angle, but it is the proper angle for training your lower pecs and minimizing the effect on the anterior deltoid muscles.

Decline Dumbbell Press
Want to take your gains to the next level? Discover your daily calorie needs with our free TDEE calculator.

Decline Dumbbell Press Muscles Worked

The decline dumbbell bench press primarily works the major muscles of the lower pectoralis.

As this exercise is primarily used for the lower pectorals, it also places great stress on the inner and upper chest.

The dumbbell decline press involves several synergist muscles,

A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, including your

Decline Dumbbell Press Muscles Worked

How To Do Decline Dumbbell Press

Train the lower chest (sternal head) requires you to change the angle of your press to emphasize the lower part of the chest. You do this by either performing exercises on a decline bench.

1. Set Up the Bench

  • Adjust the bench to a decline angle, typically between 15to 30 degrees.
  • Some gyms may also have a fixed decline bench.
  • Make sure there’s a leg brace to keep your legs safe.

2. Position Yourself

  • Lay back while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Having a spotter hand you the dumbbells can be helpful once you’re in position.
  • With your form right, grab the dumbbell. The grip should be slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. 

3. Pressing Motion

  • Now, extend the weights to the top overhead, feeling a good chest muscle contraction.
  • At the top of the movement, the dumbbells should be directly above your chest, not your face. Your arms should be fully extended but not locked.

4. Lowering Motion

  • Slowly and controlled, lower the dumbbells back down to the sides of your chest.
  • Inhale as you lower the weights.
  • Repeat the desired number of reps.
Decline Dumbbell Press

Sets And Reps

Training volume refers to the total amount of work you perform during a workout, including the number of sets, reps, and weights used.

Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point.


According to the latest scientific evidence, 12–20 weekly sets per muscle group may optimize muscle growth.

  • Beginners (with a year or less of training) should aim for about 12 weekly sets.
  • An Intermediate trainee (with two to four years of training) can increase the volume to 16 sets per week.
  • An advanced trainee (four or more years of training) may be able to get in up to 20 weekly sets.

When a certain amount of volume stops being effective and your progress stalls, you can add sets to increase volume and use that as a driver of renewed progress. 


The best rep ranges and loads to work with.

  • For muscle endurance: Aim for 15-20+ reps with moderate resistance.
  • For muscle strength: 6–10 reps, with more resistance.
  • For muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size): Aim for 3–4 sets of 8–12 reps, with a moderate to heavy amount of resistance.

It’s best to start with fewer reps and sets at first, and then increase them as you get stronger.

Decline Dumbbell Press Proper Form And Mistakes

Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program.

  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Always use weights that you can handle comfortably.
  • It is best to set the bench at about 15–30 degrees declined for the decline dumbbell press.
  • Keep the tension on your lower chest as you press the weight up.
  • When you push the dumbbell up, make sure it should follow a straight line. This will increase your efficiency, and you could lift more weight.
  • Always use the longest range of motion possible and control the dumbbells throughout the set.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pinched together to ensure the shoulders remain safe.
  • Make sure that the weights don’t collide with each other at the top of each rep. If they do, you may lose stability within the shoulder and injure yourself.
  • Ultimately, your results will depend on your ability to recover from your workouts adequately. You should allow at least 36 to 48 hours of rest before training the same muscle groups again to allow for sufficient recovery.
  • Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs, and don’t allow your lower back to have an excessive arch.
  • It is also important that you focus on your breathing pattern. Proper inhaling and exhaling improves blood circulation and muscle recovery. So, make sure you breathe out when you push the weights up and breathe in when you bring them down to your chest.
To Stay Motivated: 150+ Gym Workout Motivational Quotes To Stay Fit

Best Variations and Modification Of Decline Dumbbell Chest Press

The decline dumbbell bench press can be done differently to suit your fitness level.

If you are new to performing a decline dumbbell press, you may want to apply a few modifications to make the exercise easier. One way to counter this problem is to adjust the angle of the bench so that it is completely flat. Another is to use a lighter weight.

If you are looking for a more advanced variation to stimulate different muscle fibers in the chest, then try the dumbbell decline hammer press. You can make it more difficult by using heavier weights. But focus on form while doing the same.

1. Decline Hammer-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

The decline hammer-grip dumbbell bench press is a compound exercise primarily targeting the lower chest. However, the triceps and shoulders are secondary movers during the exercise and receive heavy stimulation.

Using a neutral grip is a safe alternative to the pronated grip decline dumbbell press, as it protects the shoulder joints, which is a great advantage.

So, include the decline hammer-grip dumbbell bench press in your chest routine for great results.

Decline Hammer-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

How To Do Decline Hammer-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand in each hand with a neutral grip and lie on a decline bench.
  2. Hold the weights above you at shoulder height.
  3. Now, extend the weights to the top overhead, feeling a good chest muscle contraction.
  4. Lower the dumbbells to the starting position and feel a good stretch in your pecs.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

2. Dumbbell One-Arm Decline Chest Press

The one-arm decline dumbbell bench press is an upper-body exercise primarily targeting the pectoral muscles, particularly the lower chest.

This press unilateral decline press variation is usually performed with lighter weight for moderate to high reps, such as 8–12 reps per set or more since balance can be an issue.

Dumbbell One Arm Decline Chest Press

How To Do Dumbbell One-Arm Decline Chest Press

  1. Adjust the bench at around 15–30 degrees of decline.
  2. Grab a pair of light or moderately heavy dumbbells in one arm.
  3. Carefully get on the bench and secure your legs.
  4. Lower yourself slowly and ensure your legs are secured.
  5. Your shoulders and head are in contact with the bench.
  6. Bring a dumbbell to your side, but avoid flaring your elbows out.
  7. Take another breath and push the dumbbell up as you engage your chest and triceps.
  8. Exhale and slowly bring the dumbbell back to your side.
  9. Repeat the desired number of reps.

Dumbbell Decline Press Benefits

Several reasons motivate you to decline the dumbbell bench press; I’ve mentioned some below.

  • Dumbbell decline press exercises require more balance than barbells or machines, which can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
  • Decline DB Press with dumbbell allows unilateral training (training one limb at a time), increases core stability, and improves muscular imbalances.
  • Dumbbell decline chest press allows for greater joint safety and stabilization and allows the joints to move naturally within their range of motion.
  • Dumbbell decline press variations allow for a greater range of movement (ROM), leading to increased muscle fibers recruited.
  • It affords a greater variety, preventing physical and mental burnout.
  • It requires more muscular control than barbells, enhancing kinesthetic awareness.
  • Decline bench press helps target your lower chest muscles, thereby giving you a toned and muscular upper body. 

Best Alternate Of Decline Dumbbell Chest Press

Before, we take a look at the best decline dumbbell chest press alternatives. We must keep in mind that a good alternative to the declined DB bench press will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Activate the chest muscle groups trained in the decline dumbbell press.
  • Isolate the muscle groups during execution.
  • Train the chest muscle through a longer range of motion

1. Decline Press

The decline press is a classic exercise that is the best alternative to the decline dumbbell bench press when focusing on the lower chest.

Although the flat version works on the lower chest, the decline variation really focuses on the lower chest because the angle changes the pressing path.

Decline Press

2. Chest Dip

If you’re looking for a bodyweight exercise alternative to the decline dumbbell press exercise that helps you build lower pecs, then the chest dip is a great staple exercise to get you started.

Chest dip is one of the most effective compound movements for the upper body, especially pushing muscles in the lower chest and triceps.

Parallel Bar Triceps Dip

3. High Cable Fly

If you have access to a cable setup, I recommend you try it as an alternative to declining the dumbbell chest press. The standing low to high cable fly is used to strengthen the pushing muscles of the body, including the chest, tricep, and shoulders. 

The High-to-Low Cable Fly is a variation of the chest fly and is a great exercise to target the lower portion of your chest.

It is a machine exercise that primarily targets the chest and, to a lesser degree, also targets the shoulders and triceps.

High Cable Fly (High to Low Cable Fly)

4. Decline Dumbbell Fly

The decline dumbbell chest fly is a variation of the dumbbell fly that targets the chest muscles. In particular, the decline dumbbell chest fly targets the lower chest due to the decline angle used.

Decline Dumbbell Fly


Dumbbell decline chest press exercises are highly recommended for anyone interested in building upper body strength and gaining muscle size.

It is easy to do and requires no more scientific details and fancy equipment. You will see results if you consistently do dumbbell decline chest press exercises with other chest press variations.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the best decline bench press angle? 

There is no one definitive angle you should use. The recommended angle range for the decline bench press is 15–30 degrees. It would be advisable to speak with your gym instructor to determine which would be the best for you.

Why is a decline in Dumbbell chest press necessary?

The decline press with a pair of dumbbells is even more beneficial. You work through a slightly longer range of motion, which forces both sides of your body to work independently. The overload potential is impressive, and you can evenly emphasize both pectorals without the risk of developing side-to-side imbalances.

Is incline or decline better for the chest?

For optimal chest development, all three varieties of bench press should be used: flat, incline, and decline.


  1. Saeterbakken, A. H., et al. (2017). The effects of bench press variations in competitive athletes on muscle activity and performance.
  2. Influence of bench angle on upper extremity muscular activation during bench press exercise. Lauver, J. D., Cayot, T. E., & Scheuermann, B. W. (2015). European Journal of Sport Science, 16(3), 309-316. doi:10.1080/17461391.2015.1022605. URL:, accessed on 24.08.2020
  3. An Electromyography Analysis of 3 Muscles Surrounding the Shoulder Joint During the Performance of a Chest Press Exercise at Several Angles. Trebs, A. A., Brandenburg, J. P., & Pitney, W. A. (2010). Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(7), 1925-1930. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181ddfae7

Leave a Comment