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Are Decline Push-Ups Harder Than Regular? (Solved!)

There are many different variations of push-ups that can be added to your training program.

Each variation targets the working muscles in a slightly different way and can give you a whole load of different results depending on which one you choose.

One of the simplest and most popular push-up variations is the decline push-up.

You’ve probably seen people doing push-ups with their feet on a bench (or something similar). If you have, then you already know what decline push-ups look like.

This article isn’t just about what decline push-ups look like though, it’s all about whether they’re harder than regular push-ups.

To find out, we look at the reasons why they could be harder, whether they’re suitable for beginners or not, and ways you can make them a bit easier for you too.

Woman doing a decline push-up on some stairs

Are Decline Push-Ups Harder? Why?

Decline push-ups are harder than regular push-ups.

They can actually be quite a lot harder as they’re a very challenging push-up variation.

Some people may think that decline push-ups are easier as their opposite variation, incline push-ups, are easier.

As you elevate your upper body during incline push-ups and your feet during decline push-ups though, this makes a big difference in how challenging each variation is.

There are several reasons why decline push-ups are harder than regular push-ups.

You Have To Lift More Of Your Body Weight

The more you elevate your feet, the more of your body weight you’ll have to lift during decline push-ups.

To give you an idea of how much harder decline push-ups are, it’s worth thinking about the approximate percentage of your total body weight that you’re lifting during regular push-ups and decline push-ups.

During regular push-ups, you will be lifting approximately 65% of your total body weight.

This isn’t completely accurate as you lift slightly more during certain phases of the movement and slightly less during others but, as a general idea, you’ll be lifting around 65% of your body weight during a regular push-up.

When you elevate your feet and do decline push-ups though, the increased downward angle of the exercise makes you lift more of your body weight.

During decline push-ups, you’ll be lifting somewhere between 70% and 75% of your total body weight.

This extra weight being lifted can make decline push-ups much harder than regular push-ups.

(This also explains why push-ups can be harder for heavier people.)

Your Arms And Core Have To Do More Of The Work

Your arms and your core have big roles to play in decline push-ups.

As these muscle groups are usually weaker than your chest and shoulders (which do more of the work in regular push-ups), decline push-ups can be very challenging for the working muscles.

Your arms will need to support more of your body weight in the decline push-up position while your core will need to work harder to keep you balanced and stable.

By moving some of the work from the big strong muscles used in regular push-ups to some of the smaller and usually weaker muscles, decline push-ups can be much harder to do compared to regular push-ups.

How Much Harder Are Decline Push-Ups?

The amount you elevate your feet will be a big factor in how much harder decline push-ups are.

As we’ve already discussed, you’ll be lifting around 65% of your total body weight during regular push-ups.

If you do decline push-ups with your feet elevated by 30 cm, you’ll be lifting around 70% of your total body weight. However, if you elevate your feet by 60 cm, you will be lifting approximately 75% of your total body weight,

Lifting more of your body weight makes the exercise harder.

It will come down to you how much harder you need to make decline push-ups in order to reach your fitness goals.

Are Decline Push-Ups Suitable For Beginners?

A graphic with the words "Don't be afraid of being a beginners"

They can be but they’re usually better suited to more experienced gym-goers.

Before trying to do decline push-ups, it’s important to have mastered regular push-ups first.

By doing so, you should have built up a good foundation of strength in the muscles that’ll be working in decline push-ups, and you’ll have a better understanding of how your body reacts to the movement.

While some beginners will already have a natural foundation of strength that allows them to do decline push-ups, for most beginners, they’ll probably be too challenging to begin with.

How To Make Decline Push-Ups Easier

There are two basic ways to make decline push-ups easier.

The first is to not elevate your feet so high.

By using a lower bench or step to do decline push-ups, the downward angle of your body will be smaller, resulting in less of your body weight having to be lifted during the movement.

The second way of making decline push-ups easier is to strengthen your arms and your core.

As these will be working hard in decline push-ups, the stronger they are, the easier the exercise should be as they’ll be able to handle the extra stress placed upon them more comfortably.

Also, decline push-ups, like normal push-ups, get easier over time.

Are Decline Push-Ups Better Than Regular Push-Ups?

This will ultimately depend on your fitness goals and what you are trying to achieve.

If you’re trying to develop your arms, core, and upper chest as much as possible, then decline push-ups could be considered a better exercise to do than regular push-ups.

Before deciding if one exercise is better than the other though, you’ll need to consider multiple factors such as your fitness goals, your experience in the gym, any current or previous injuries, and other personal preferences that can impact your decision.

Everyone is different so decline push-ups may be better for some people while regular push-ups could be better for others.

How To Do A Decline Push-Up

To do decline push-ups, you’ll need a platform to elevate and rest your feet on. This can be any solid object such as a bench, a step, a wall, or other similar objects.

Start by getting on your hands and knees in front of the object being used to elevate your feet.

Have your hands about shoulder-width apart (you can go a bit wider if you prefer).

Once you’re in this position, extend your legs back and lift your feet up into the elevated position. Be mindful of your body position at this point.

You should be in a straight line (from your shoulders to your toes) and your hips shouldn’t be sagging or arched.

From this position, bend at your elbows to lower your body down toward the ground.

Your goal is to get your chest as close to the floor as possible while maintaining the correct technique throughout the movement.

Once you reach the lowest point of the exercise, push yourself back up into the starting position before repeating for as many reps and sets as you need to.


In summary:

  • Decline push-ups are harder than regular because there’s more resistance.
  • You can make decline push-ups easier by not elevating your feet as high when setting up for the exercise.
  • Decline push-ups are generally not suitable for beginners.

That’s all for this article, but do push ups help lose face fat? Or do push ups increase stamina?

Hope this helped!


How To Do Decline Push-Ups