What Do Decline Push Ups Work

What Do Decline Push Ups Work

If you’re into fitness and working out, you might have asked yourself, “What do decline push ups work?”

As a popular push up variation, many people seem to use this movement to strengthen the upper body, and the chest more specifically.

The question is, what results can we expect from it? More importantly, how can we fit this movement into our workouts and adjust the difficulty?

Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know.

What Do Decline Push Ups Work?

Thanks to the body’s position during a decline push up, the exercise primarily trains the upper chest. And doing this on a consistent basis is key to an overall balanced look for your pecs.

Also, this movement is more challenging than the standard variation because you have to support a greater percentage of your body weight because of the elevated position. This allows for greater mechanical tension on the chest, as well as the triceps and shoulders.

Muscles Worked


  • Upper Chest (near the clavicle)


  • Lower Chest
  • Shoulders (Front Deltoid Mostly)
  • Triceps

NOTE: The more vertical your decline becomes (feet higher and higher), the less your chest works and the more your shoulders work.

What’s excellent about decline push ups is that you can do them almost anywhere – at home, in the gym, in the park, and in every other location where you can elevate your feet.

Where Do Decline Push Ups Fit Into a Workout?

Now that we’ve gone over “What do decline push ups work,” you’re probably wondering:

“Well, where do I fit this exercise into my workouts?”

As we alluded to above, the decline push up is a rather challenging variation of the classic exercise. Being a tough version, you should do it first in your push up workouts.

Muscles Worked With Decline Push Ups

For example, here’s how it would look:

  • Decline push ups – 3 sets
  • Classic push ups – 3 sets
  • Close-stance push ups – 3 sets
  • Knee push ups – 3 sets

Click for a complete push up workout.

Decline Push Up Modifications

Besides being an incredibly effective movement, decline push ups are quite versatile because you can do them in several unique ways. For example:

1) Narrow-stance decline push ups

To make the decline push up more tricep-dominant, you can use a narrower stance. With it, your hands are placed closer together, which puts your triceps in a more advantageous position to do the work.

2) Wide-stance decline push ups

On the other hand, if you want to increase the emphasis on your chest and front deltoids, spacing your hands apart is a great way to reduce your triceps’ involvement.

3) Reverse-stance decline push ups

Though the push up is well-known as a chest exercise, we can make it more bicep-dominant. To increase bicep activity, rotate your wrists and forearms to the point where your fingers point back.

This version can be a bit more difficult on your wrists, so it’s essential to practice proper technique.

How to Adjust The Difficulty Of The Push Up

The decline push up is about having your feet elevated from the floor. To further modify the difficulty of the exercise, you can vary the height. The higher your feet are, the more challenging the push up is.

For example, you can start with a minimal decline and slowly work your way up until your feet are on a chair or even a desk.

If you find even a minimal decline to be too difficult, it’s best to start with classic push ups and progress from there.

Safety Considerations Before Doing Push Ups

Preparing for a decline push up will be similar to most other upper body exercises. The most important thing you need to do is warm up well. Spending some time warming up your shoulders is also beneficial. (1)

You can look for a good dynamic stretching pre-workout routine that lays it out step-by-step.

Aside from that, it’s essential to stay safe as you do the exercise. Make sure that the table, bench, or chair you’re elevating your feet on is solid. Also, make sure that your hands are planted firmly on the floor.

Click for more bodyweight exercise.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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  1. Contributors, W. M. D. E. (n.d.). Warm-up exercises: Do they improve performance and reduce injuries? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-warmup-exercises

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