5 Chest-Building Benefits Of The Decline Smith Machine Press
Everybody loves a good chest day in the gym! Building an impressive chest is a big goal for many gym-goers.
Bench presses and dumbbells are, and rightly so, a staple in most people’s chest training routine. However, there are many more options available to you if you want to switch up your chest training.
Using a new exercise or piece of equipment is an excellent way to freshen up a boring routine or to simply present your chest muscles with a different stimulus for growth. One exercise that steers clear of the usual flat bench press and dumbbell flies, even though these are great, is the decline smith machine press.
Throughout this article, I want to explain some of the benefits of the decline smith machine press that may spark your interest if you would like to enhance your chest training. Before that, though, you need to know how to do a decline smith machine press properly…
How To Perform A Decline Smith Machine Press
Like many other machine exercises, this one is relatively simple to set up and perform. What you really need to pay attention to is the position of your bench and your shoulders.
Here’s the step-by-step guide:
- Position a decline bench inside of a smith machine or a rack so that the bar is above your lower chest when you are laying on the bench.
- Grip the bar with an overhand grip that is just outside of shoulder width
- . In a controlled fashion, lower the bar until it touches the bottom of your chest.
- Reverse the movement by powerfully extending your arms.
Learn more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6EBzZptHOk
Those are the 4 simple steps to completing the movement but I do have a few tips and things that you should be mindful of when performing this exercise.
The first thing you must do is to keep your shoulder blades retracted (pinched together) throughout the whole movement. What this does is reduces the pressure on your shoulders and maximizes chest recruitment instead.
You should also be sure that there is no pain or discomfort during the exercise. This one really stands for any exercise but some people will not be comfortable in the smith machine due to the fixed bar path.
If you do feel discomfort, you can try adjusting your grip width and see if there is an improvement. If not, you may want to look for an alternative exercise or see a health care professional if the pain persists.
Lastly, set the safety pegs on the smith machine so that you don’t drop the bar on yourself if something goes wrong.
Benefits Of The Decline Smith Machine Press
Now that you know how to do the exercise properly, I want to give you some reasons why you should be doing it.
1. Recruits A Large Number Of Chest Muscle Fibres.
There has been some research that has observed a higher amount of total pectoral muscle recruitment in the declined position. This is compared to an incline bench and flat bench variation.
Of course, you cannot discount the incline and flat version since each will shift the emphasis to a slightly different area of the chest. However, for total recruitment, it seems that the decline bench press might be a winner.
Therefore, in terms of returns in muscle growth on time invested, the decline bench press could present the “best bang for your buck”
2. Able To Use Heavier Weights
This is by no means the be-all and end-all of your training but it is a good idea to put your muscles under high mechanical tension by using heavier exercises at times.
As a result of your leverages, shorter range of motion and overall muscle recruitment, most people will be able to lift more weight on a decline bench than on an incline or flat bench. Don’t expect to be able to go heavier instantly; you will need to get used to the movement and build the motor patterns first.
3. Focus On Your Chest
This benefit comes as a result of using the smith machine. Inside of a smith machine, you do not need to worry about balancing or stabilizing the bar.
This can be an advantage since you are able to put all of your focus into contracting the target muscles: your pectorals. I have mentioned in other articles that this can be an excellent way to continue to stress your chest once your stabilizing muscles have become fatigued.
4. Safe Pressing
As long as you have set the safety pegs up properly, you will not need a spotter and you don’t need to be concerned about failing a rep.
For the most part, I do not recommend taking too many sets to failure. On the other hand, being scared about failing a rep and dropping a bar on yourself can hold you back when it comes to pushing hard.
The relative safety of benching inside a smith machine should remove the fear of failure without the need for asking somebody to spot you.
5. More Versatile Than Other Machines
A big plus for the smith machine over other machines is that it still remains very similar to standard barbell exercises. What this means is that you are still able to switch up your grip widths and bar positions, which you often cannot do with other machines.
A good example of this is that you can simply bring your grip closer in order to put more emphasis on your triceps. Having this kind of option available gives you more versatility and choice within your training.
Closing Thoughts On The Decline Smith Machine Press
The smith machine does get a bad rap in some strength training circles. You may have been one of those that shunned it but I hope, after reading a few of the benefits above, you may be open to giving it a go for yourself.
To be honest, that is all you can do really: just give it a go. By “give it a go”, I mean that you should include it for a period of at least 4 weeks in your training so you have time to see the results. If you do see a difference and you enjoy using it, you can continue to keep it in your workouts.
As a final note, despite its’ benefits, I still do not recommend it as a main exercise if you have the capability of performing a free weight press. I think it is a good exercise to use later on a workout once your stabilizer and supporting muscles have fatigued and are becoming a limiting factor in your chest exercises.
That is just my recommendation. I would love to hear what you think so please feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas in the comments section.