Starting Position: Lie on your back on a decline bench at an angle between 20 - 40 degrees, with your head angled down and feet fixed to prevent sliding. Position your body so that the barbell is in line with your chin. Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your palms facing forward and your thumbs wrapped around the barbell. Wrists should be in a neutral position.
Pull the shoulder blades down and back so that they make firm contact with the bench. Your head, shoulders, and butt should make contact with the bench and your and feet should make contact floor throughout the exercise. If working with a spotter, signal the spotter for assistance in moving the bar off the rack. Once the bar is unracked, position the bar over your chin or upper chest with your elbows straight. Keep your wrists in a neutral position.
Downward Phase: Inhale. In a slow and controlled manner, lower the barbell to lightly touch the lower portion of your chest. Do not allow the bar to bounce. The wrists should remain in a neutral position. Performing the exercise with the elbows close to your sides emphasizes more triceps. Performing the exercise with the elbows flared out from the body emphasizes more pectorals.
Upward Phase: Exhale and gently press the bar upward to straighten the elbows taking the bar to the original starting position with the bar positioned over your chin or slightly below. Do not allow the back to arch away from the bench. Maintain all points of contact with the bench and keep your feet firmly on the floor throughout the exercise.
At the end of the set, signal your spotter to assist you in racking the bar and maintain a firm grip until the bar is racked.
Safety is very important in this exercise. A spotter should adopt a split-stance position, standing erect with an alternating grip position (one palm facing upwards and one facing downwards) positioned inside the exerciser's hand position. Keep the hands close to the bar, but not touching the bar unless needed.