8 Decline Bench Press Alternatives: Substitutes For Home Gym

The decline bench press is an excellent lower chest building exercise that helps with muscular hypertrophy and builds upper body strength.  

However, it requires you to have a bench press that can be adjusted into a decline position. But, what happens if you dont have the necessary equipment? 

In this article, youll discover 8 of the best decline bench press alternative exercises around, so you can build your lower pecs without needing a decline bench.  

If you want to work your lower chest muscles but can’t perform a traditional decline bench press, then what should you do? 

First off, don’t panic; there are plenty of alternative exercises out there for you to develop your lower pecs. The list below contains some of the best decline bench press alternative exercises around.  

The best thing about the list below is that they can all be performed in your home gym.  

1. Decline Dumbbell Bench Press 

The traditional decline barbell bench press is excellent; however, the decline dumbbell bench press alternative allows you to get a slightly larger range of motion.  

The exercise is an iso-lateral movement, so it should iron out any muscular imbalances that can occur from barbell work. However, you’ll find you can’t lift as much with the dumbbells as you would by doing the barbell decline bench press.   

How to do it:

  • Grab a set of dumbbells. 
  • Lie down on your decline bench press, securing your feet. 
  • Press the dumbbells upwards above your lower chest. 
  • Slowly bring the dumbbells toward your chest, allowing maximal stretch in the muscle fibers.  
  • Press the weight back up and repeat. 
decline dumbbell bench press

2. Decline Dumbbell Together Press 

This variation is also known as the “crush press” and builds the triceps and chest muscles. It’s thought that the constant squeezing of the chest throughout the movement elicits more stimulation and muscle growth.  

Bodybuilders find this movement helps develop the mind-muscle connection to their chest. Performing this movement on a decline bench has the same effect but will focus primarily on the lower pecs.  

How to do it:

  • Grab two dumbbells and lie down on a decline bench press, ensuring your feet are secured.  
  • Hold the dumbbells in a neutral position (palms facing inward) and touch the dumbbells together.  
  • Press the dumbbells above your chest as you would for a regular pressing movement while maintaining the contact between the two dumbbells.  
  • Slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting point and repeat.  
decline dumbbell together press

3. Decline Dumbbell Flys 

As far as decline bench press alternative exercises go, the decline dumbbell fly is pretty decent and will stimulate muscle growth in your lower chest muscles. It also blasts your lower chest with constant tension during the movement. It’s perfect for your home gym since it only requires dumbbells and a bench.

The only concern I have with this movement is that it places a lot of pressure on the shoulder and elbow joints. This alternative is a no-go if you suffer from injuries such as a rotator cuff tear or tennis elbow 

How to do it:

  • Select your dumbbells and set your bench to a decline position.  
  • Push the dumbbells up above your chest while keeping a slight bend in the elbow.  
  • In an arc-like motion, lower the dumbbells taking your arms out wide.  
  • Stop at the bottom when your chest is at full stretch and return along the same path while squeezing your chest together.  
  • Hold at the top and repeat.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip: You won’t need to go too heavy on this movement; it’s all about the controlled motion and creating plenty of time under tension.  

decline dumbbell flys

4. High To Low Cable Fly 

Not everyone has a cable machine in their home gym. But, if you do, you can target your lower pecs by performing a high to low cable fly. While the high to low cable fly isn’t as effective as the decline bench press, it’s an excellent alternative and shouldn’t be overlooked.

The exercise is a killer when performed correctly and will leave you feeling the DOMS in your chest for days afterward.  

How to do it:

  • Adjust the height of the cables so they are above head height.  
  • Then take one handle per hand and step forward, creating tension in the cables. 
  • Lean forward slightly and bring your hands inward, meeting in the middle in front of your body. Then reverse the movement.   
high to low cable fly

5. Decline Machine Press 

If you’re lucky enough to have this machine in your home gym, then you’ll be off to a flying start when it comes to developing your lower chest. This makes the movement a popular variant for beginners as they don’t have to worry about needing a spotter; it’s difficult to get the form wrong on a machine.  

As it’s a machine, you’ll find it easier to perform than a free weight version of the decline bench press. The only real downside is the reduced range of motion compared to the decline bench press.  

How to do it:

  • Sit or lie down on your decline machine press and grab hold of the handles. (Some lower chest press machines require you to lie down, while others use a low handlebar position and seat you upward.  
  • Press the handles away from your chest.  
  • Slowly bring the handles back toward your chest and then repeat.  

Required Equipment - 5 Best Chest Press Machines

decline machine press

6. Vertical Dip With Forward Torso Lean 

The vertical dip has long been touted as one of the best compound movements for developing your upper body strength, particularly the chest and triceps.  

However, a minor adjustment to the form can make this one of the best decline bench press alternative exercises for targeting your lower chest.

All you need to do is tilt your torso forward while you perform each rep. This slight tweak helps you hit your lower chest muscles significantly, causing muscle growth and strength gains.  

How to do it:

  • Stand in front of a dipping station and lift your body with your arms locked out.  
  • Lean forward slightly, so your body is no longer completely upright. (It helps to look downward). 
  • Lower your body by bending the elbows until your arms reach 90 degrees, where your chest will be at full stretch.  
  • Press yourself back up to the starting position.  

See Also - Dips Vs Push Ups

vertical dips

7. Incline Push-Up With Underhand Grip 

The incline push-up is a brilliantly minimalistic way to build your lower chest muscles. All you need is yourself and some form of elevated platform such as stairs, couch, bench, table, you get the idea. This is one of my favorite exercises to do at home.

While the incline push-up position reduces the amount of resistance your chest has to push against, it does target the lower pecs more efficiently than regular push-ups. I’ll admit it’s not on the same level as the decline bench press, but it’s an excellent substitute if you’re unable to use a decline bench press.  

By reversing your grip (underhand grip), you shift the focus onto your lower chest. It’s worth noting this movement does place more stress on the shoulders than the regular decline bench press, so it might not be suitable for everyone.  

How to do it:

  • Find a low stationary object that you can push against, e.g., stairs or bench.  
  • Position yourself in front of it and place your hands on the platform. 
  • Straighten your body, bracing your core muscles.  
  • Lower your body towards the platform and push your body back up until your arms lock out.
  • Repeat this movement until your set is complete.  

Related Article - Bench Press Vs Push Ups 

incline push up with underhand grip

8. Dumbbell Decline Floor Press 

The decline floor press is one of the most straightforward decline bench press alternative exercises to perform. It requires very little equipment and doesn’t take up much space. It’s ideal for anyone with a small home gym with limited equipment and space. 

One of the best things about this substitute for decline bench press is that it’s relatively safe to perform without a spotter. The regular decline bench press 100% requires a spotter as the last thing you want is to be stuck under a heavy bar. Luckily, you won’t have this problem with the dumbbell decline floor press.

How to do it:

  • Lie on the floor with your dumbbells.  
  • Rest the dumbbells on your chest and perform a glute bridge.  
  • Press the dumbbells upward and slowly bring them back down to the starting point.  
  • Repeat each rep until your set is completed.  

Also Check Out - Floor Press Vs Bench Press

dumbbell decline floor press

Benefits Of The Decline Bench Press Exercise (Is It Necessary?)

The decline bench press entails you performing the bench press exercise with your body on an angle (head lower than your legs). Doing so increases your lower pec activation causing muscular growth and strength gains.  

The main advantage of this exercise is that it has a smaller range of motion and allows you to lift heavier than you would during a regular bench press. 

Many gym-goers perform this exercise as it carries over to your regular flat bench, improving your overall bench press lift. Another reason it’s popular is that it doesn’t require much work from the shoulders; this is ideal for anyone with shoulder injuries.

It’s worth noting that not everyone performs decline bench press, and that’s ok. There are many ways to build the lower pecs including all of the exercises I mentioned above.


What Muscles Does The Decline Bench Press Work? 

Pectoralis Major 

While the pec major (upper chest) is used during the decline bench press, it’s not the primary part of the chest being used. During the decline bench press, the pec minor (lower chest) is the primary driver and will produce most of the force required to move the barbell.  

Triceps 

The triceps are one of the main muscles involved in any bench press movement; the decline bench press is no exception. During the decline bench press, your triceps work incredibly hard to not only stabilize your arms but to press the weight upwards and create the lockout portion of the press.  

Deltoid 

Due to the smaller range of motion during the decline bench press, the activation of the deltoids is somewhat limited. The angle of the bench causes the lower pecs to work harder and removes a lot of stress from the shoulders. This is the ideal situation for anybody with shoulder issues.  

Biceps 

Even though the decline bench press is a pushing movement, the biceps are put to work as they act synergistically to the triceps. The biceps are needed to stabilize your arms, particularly in the decline position.  


How Do You Make A Decline Bench At Home? 

Firstly, if you have a regular bench press, you can always place a 45lb Olympic plate under the foot of the bench to elevate it. This will cause the bench to be on an angle, and you’ll be able to perform a decline bench press without needing to get the tools out.  

But, if you’re looking to make a decline bench press at home, then you should follow these steps: 

  1. 1
    Collect the relevant materials: Timber or steel, foam or sponge (for comfort), and any fixings (nails, screws, etc.).
  2. 2
    Build your frame – Be sure to set the angle so it’s roughly 15-30 degrees.
  3. 3
    Apply the foam or sponge to the back pad of the bench. 
  4. 4
    Test your equipment without weight; if it feels secure, only then should you use weight. 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How can I decline bench press at home without a bench? 

If you’re looking to develop your lower pecs, you don’t need a bench. You can use cables or resistance bands to perform a high to low cable chest fly. You could also use dips to target the lower pecs by leaning forward slightly during the movement. If neither is an option, the glute bridge floor press is excellent 

See Also - Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without Bench

Is incline or decline better for the chest? 

Both the incline and decline bench press are fantastic chest builders. The incline primarily targets the upper chest and requires more work from your shoulders. But, the decline bench press works your lower chest, doesn’t activate the shoulders as much, and lets you lift heavier. Which is better? – Well, that’s down to preference; I do love incline bench press, though.  

Is decline easier than a flat bench? 

Many gym-goers find decline press far easier than the flat bench press and can often lift up to 125% body weight with relative ease. This is due to the reduced range of motion during a decline bench press. 


Conclusion

If you want to develop a god-like upper body, you need a great-looking chest. One of the best ways to achieve this is to build your lower pecs, and the decline bench press is one of the best ways to accomplish this.  

However, if you don’t have the facilities to perform this movement or can’t for some reason (such as an injury), you should perform one of the 8 best decline bench press alternatives mentioned in the list above.