The decline pushup is a simple exercise that targets the muscles in your chest region. It is versatile and can be varied to activate additional muscles in the region or specifically isolate your upper pectorals. Decline pushups require no special equipment because the resistance is provided solely by your body weight and gravity. The benefits of decline pushups belie the exercise's simplicity.
Decline pushups are a relatively simple exercise. According to Exercise Prescription, to perform a decline pushup, kneel on the floor with an elevation -- such as a weight bench or Swiss ball -- behind you. Place your hands on the floor, spreading them slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. Lift your feet up onto the elevation. Keep your back straight, in a plank position, as you raise your body off the ground until your arms are extended. Hold for two beats, then lower your body without arching your back and repeat.
All you need to perform a decline pushup is your body and something on which to place your feet. Decline pushups require no special equipment and can be performed anywhere. You can use items as mundane as a doorstep, footstool or even a park bench as an elevation. Decline pushups can help replace chest flies if you travel on vacation or business and don't have time to find a set of weights.
Perform variations of the decline pushup to increase or decrease resistance or target different muscles. In general, decline pushups target your upper pecs, or the clavicular head of the pectoralis major. Lower the elevation to activate the lower pecs. Increase the elevation to isolate your upper pecs even more, as they perform more of the work. Use stairs instead of a chair or bench to increase or decrease intensity. ABC Bodybuilding suggests putting weights on your back to build mass. A 2007 "Men's Health" article notes a variation known as the decline Spider-Man pushup. In the variation, bring a knee to touch an elbow once your arms reach a 90-degree angle. This variation has the added benefit of increasing mobility in the hips and shoulders as well as stepping up the challenge of the exercise.
Decline pushups helps you strengthen and add bulk to the upper pecs, which enhances the appearance of your chest. A 2002 "Men's Fitness" article notes that all forms of pushups, including decline pushups, help to increase blood flow to the upper body. The additional blood flow to the region helps to reduce muscular soreness after your workout substantially.