The decline dumbbell press primarily works your chest muscles, followed by your shoulders and triceps. Decline dumbbell presses help build definition in the lower portion of your pectoral, or chest, muscles. Using dumbbells also speeds up visible results, and you gain a greater range of motion using dumbbells compared to a barbell. Learn proper technique with a personal trainer or fitness instructor. It's important to check with your health care provider before beginning any new exercise program.
Emphasizing Your Pecs
The decline dumbbell press emphasizes the lower fibers of your pectoralis major, or chest, muscles. This creates a more symmetrical, balanced look to your chest. While this exercise is primarily used to gain better definition in your lower chest, you can use the decline dumbbell press to add definition to your triceps. To get this extra benefit, flex your triceps when you reach the top of the dumbbell press movement.
Added Advantages to Using Dumbbells
Using dumbbells helps correct muscle imbalance, especially if the muscles on one side of your body are stronger than on the other. Dumbbells, as opposed to a barbell, allow for a deeper range of motion during the bench press. This increased range of motion is especially advantageous if you have short arms. A few inches can make a difference when it comes to seeing results. Dumbbells also require your triceps and deltoids -- the stabilizer muscles for the bench press -- to work harder because you must make more of an effort to balance the dumbbells. Over time this helps improve your coordination. Use a moderate amount of weight until you have a good feel for how to do this exercise properly. Increase the weight when the exercise becomes easier.
The decline dumbbell press is useful as part of an extended-set training in which you do variations of an exercise from hardest to easiest. Perform an extended-set bench press by doing a set of dumbbell presses on an incline set at 30 to 45 degrees, then immediately adjust your bench and do a set on a flat bench. By progressively moving your body into a position that makes the exercise easier to perform, you increase the intensity because you're able to do more repetitions before hitting muscle fatigue.
You only need a 10-degree decline to achieve results with the decline dumbbell press, according to “Effective Strength Training,” by Douglas Brooks. If you don’t have a decline bench with roller pads, you can achieve this decline with a 4-inch platform secured under one end of a bench. Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Avoid rotating your thumbs out or in -- rotating stresses your shoulder joints. Also avoid an excessive range of motion because this puts too much torque on your shoulder muscles. To get the most of your exercise maintain a wrist position that keeps your dumbbells parallel to the floor instead of allowing your dumbbells to tilt.