Killing the Myth of “Lower Chest” and the “Benefits” of Decline Benching
by Nick Manzoni

As a trainer, a lot of people come up to me and say “Hey, how can I get that lower chest to be fuller, and look more impressive”? Or, how many decline presses should I do in order to “feel” my lower chest working? And it really gets me irritated that professional bodybuilders of old have perpetuated the habit of decline benching, but have no real scientific evidence to back up the claim: “decline bench gives you a lower chest”.

In this article, not only will I give you alternatives to fill your chest, I will also add scientific reasoning as to why I choose never to do the decline bench. First and foremost, science rules the roost as far as developing your body. It’s not just as simple as “lift heavy weights and you will get huge” if that were the case: we’d have a lot more Arnolds walking around, now wouldn’t we?

A very simple and true fact is: there are only two true muscles of the chest, the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. Neither, repeat neither are attributed to the lower swoop that most bodybuilders strive through. In fact: the pectoralis minor can’t even be SEEN let alone trained independently of the pectoralis major! The minor is deep (below) the pectoralis major, and is no consequence of this particular article, so I shall focus on the “show me” muscle: the pec. major.

The pec major is one large muscle, that originates in the sternal part of the clavical ( right in front of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder), and inserts in the lower part of the sternum and mixes in the cartilages of the lower true ribs ( just on top of the chest stretching up towards the midline of the collar bone). As we all know: a muscle either contracts or it doesn’t. So there’s really no scientific evidence to prove that any particular movement of the press effects more areas than others. So, why the variation of decline, flat, and incline? The very simple answer is: the muscles need to be worked in different ways to allow growth, and if you were to do just flat, or just incline, your body will adapt and no longer grow…sad but true. That swoop people go on about? That is simply mass. You get more mass, you get more swoop. Work those flats and inclines!

In fact: scientists have found that a wider grip on the INCLINE press has been known to stimulate about 20% more muscle fibers in the chest, than flat. And another little tidbit, those same scientists have proven that decline works only 5% of your chest! The rest of the workload falls on your triceps, and your shoulders. And THIS is where we get to the heart of the matter.

Anyone who knows anatomy knows that the only thing holding your shoulder joint in place is a series of small ligaments, but mostly consists of the anterior and posterior lamina, which fuses together around the base of the shoulder above the bicep.
Ligaments form on the ends of muscles to attach muscles to the bone. Without ligaments, your bones would simply not move, because nothing is attaching muscle to bone.

That being said, once one does a decline press, you are torque-ing your shoulder in such a way to put undue strain on those particular ligaments. If you consider the decline press: the only thing supporting your shoulders at this point is the very rear part of your deltoid, and being a muscle and not a bone, is subject to tearing isn’t it? But let’s not be optimistic: what is most likely to happen doing a decline press is the complete tearing away of the lamina ligaments from the shoulder, resulting in a massive tear, costly surgery, and plenty of pain. And for what? A 5% muscle fiber recruitment? So please friends, when wanting to work your chest, go as far away from that goofy bench as possible, and if you don’t believe me, read up on the subject, you’ll find the truth is much scarier than the fiction.


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