The technique of performing a bench press on a bench upside down

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What are the features and benefits of this exercise for the pectoral muscles? How to do it right, the nuances of technology.

It is believed that the press of dumbbells or barbells lying head down is an ineffective exercise that can not be included in the training process. In fact, this is a fallacy. This type of bench press is simply necessary for a quality study of the muscles of the chest. What is the reason for this, we will discuss in our article.

Experienced athletes who often visit the gym pay attention to the low popularity of the incline bench. And this even though near the horizontal “sunbed” in the gym a whole line is being built. First of all, this is caused by the inconvenience of the first option, because the dumbbell press (barbell) has to be done in an unusual position – lying head down. The main advantages of the exercise are hidden here.

It is no secret that our pectoral muscle is formed from two elements – the lower and the upper. The first is called the clavicular head, and the second – sternal. Both muscle parts do the work of pulling the arm to the midline. When doing a bench press at a slight angle (lying head down), the sternal (lower) head is loaded to a greater extent. The optimal angle is an angle of 20-45 degrees. Also, when performing the exercise, another muscle group is connected to the work – deltas (front part) and triceps. If you work with a bar with a narrow grip, then the only triceps will be loaded. The task of such a bench press is a side job of the lower part of the chest, giving it greater “sharpness”, and a high-quality seal.

Main advantages

Performing a dumbbell bench press (barbell), lying upside down, you can get the following advantages:

  • growth of power indicators in the usual bench press;
  • a tightening of the bottom of the neckline, it is “pushing out”, lifting of the lower part of the pectoral muscles (very good for the female);
  • effective fight against stagnation in the standard (horizontal) press, when for a long time the weight remains in one place;
  • a load of auxiliary and lower pectoral muscles;
  • optimal load distribution and its shifting to the necessary part of the muscle group – the pectoralis major muscle;
  • the decrease in load from the bottom of the back;
  • reduced shoulder load, as well as reduced risk of injury.

This list is enough not to leave such an effective bench press behind the “side” of the training process.

execution technique

How to do the exercise?

To obtain the expected effect, the exercise should be performed correctly, in compliance with the basic technique. The algorithm for working with a barbell (lifting dumbbells) lying upside down is as follows:

  • go to the bench and set the desired back position. Then prepare the bar and lay under it, firmly securing your legs under the fixing rollers. Grasp the bar at shoulder width and start lifting weights. Place the bar at the level of the lower pectoral muscles and make sure that your hands are strictly perpendicular to the floor;
  • inhale and lower the load down. After touching the neck to the lower chest, exhale and lift the barbell;
  • do the bench press as many times as planned by the workout (usually 10-12 reps is enough).

The nuances of doing exercises

Knowledge of technology is not everything. You should consider some secrets of a dumbbell bench press (barbell), lying upside down. There are several of them:

  • in the highest position, compress the pectoral muscles and fix them in this position for a couple of seconds;
  • with a lack of experience, use a partner who, in case of which, will hedge. If this is not possible, then do the exercise on Smith’s bench. Remember that insurance in this exercise is a guarantee of safety because losing balance is a couple of trifles;
  • try to avoid “swinging” the bar when lowering or lifting it. Watch its movement – it should occur only in the horizontal plane.  Besides, in no case should you push the bar forward;
  • work in such a way that the projectile drops twice slower than it rises;
  • in no case do not “beat off” the barbell from the chest when reaching the bottom point;
  • use the full range, that is, the hands should bend and unbend completely without springing, as mentioned above;
  • rebuild the bar and the sunbed so that the bar drops to the lower part of the chest;
  • Look at your elbows all the time – during the exercise they should be directed in different directions;
  • inhale as deep as possible after passing the vulture of the heaviest range. This will allow at least a little reduction in pressure, increasing due to an unusual position;
  • in the presence of hypertension, it is better to refuse this exercise.
dumbbell bench press

What are the options, and which is better?

The lower bench press can be performed in several variations:

  • when using dumbbells;
  • on Smith’s simulator;
  • with a barbell.

The question arises which of the existing bench presses is still more effective for muscles. Studies have shown that performing exercises with the head pointing downward is an opportunity to more efficiently pump the pectoral muscles (when compared with the upper position). But not everything is clear here. If it is necessary to “trim” the pectoral zone, then the best option is the lower bench, if the clavicle is the upper one.

Another study showed that when performing the “lower exercise”, the pectoral muscles take on the maximum load. As a rule, it is twice as much as the weight that the pectoral muscles bear on with a standard horizontal bench press.

execution process

But that is not all. In 2010, scientists were able to prove that the lower or upper bench press equally affect the upper pectoral muscle. So the statement that for pumping the upper pectoral muscle, it is necessary to use only the “upper” bench press is not correct.

Besides, when tilting the body, an athlete can take more weight than with a standard bench press (somewhere around 15-20%). This is due to three different reasons:

  • firstly, working at an angle downwards connects a greater number of pectoral muscles, which allows you to develop a lot more effort;
  • secondly, the body is in a special position, which transfers the emphasis from the triceps and deltoid muscles to the chest and back muscles. All this allows you to put a lot more effort;
  • the amplitude becomes smaller than with the horizontal press.

Based on the foregoing, we can conclude that the press of dumbbells (barbells) in the lower position can be called a more effective exercise.

execution stages


In this article, we examined in detail the advantages of the lower bench press, when the athlete’s head is below the level of the legs. But, despite the effectiveness of this exercise, you should not give up breast pumping in standard ways (classic or upper bench press). Just add this exercise to your training program and you will see the result.

Peter Roberts

6 thoughts on “The technique of performing a bench press on a bench upside down

    1. It is a weightlifting exercise in which a person lies on his back on a bench and with both hands ready to push a barbell or fixed weight upward from chest level to arm’s length and then lowers it back to chest level. It is done in sets on repetition.

    1. It helps build muscles of the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Bench pressing is mainly for the upper body and not for the abdominal part, it strengthens upper body muscles. You can only contract your abs to keep your torso stable on the bench.

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