We consider the decay problem for the generalized improved (or regularized) Boussinesq model with power type nonlinearity, a modification of the originally ill-posed shallow water waves model derived by Boussinesq. This equation has been extensively studied in the literature, describing plenty of interesting behavior, such as global existence in the space $$H^1\times H^2$$, existence of super luminal solitons, and lack of a standard stability method to describe perturbations of solitons. The associated decay problem has been studied by Liu, and more recently by Cho–Ozawa, showing scattering in weighted spaces provided the power of the nonlinearity *p* is sufficiently large. In this paper we remove that condition on the power *p* and prove decay to zero in terms of the energy space norm $$L^2\times H^1$$, for any $$p>1$$, in two almost complementary regimes: (1) outside the light cone for all small, bounded in time $$H^1\times H^2$$ solutions, and (2) decay on compact sets of arbitrarily large bounded in time $$H^1\times H^2$$ solutions. The proof consists in finding two new virial type estimates, one for the exterior cone problem based in the energy of the solution, and a more subtle virial identity for the interior cone problem, based in a modification of the momentum.