Lower Chest Workout
Lower Chest Workout: Best Exercises
One of your goals, when you hit the gym, is probably well-defined pecs. A built chest gives the appearance of strength, but also stabilizes the shoulders, improves posture, and promotes overall upper-body strength.
The chest is made up of two major muscle groups—the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, sometimes referred to as the hugging muscle. The larger of these two is often referred to as the "pecs" or "chest muscle" as it is the muscle mass you see in the chest area.
The pectoralis major is known as a large superficial muscle. It is a thick, fan-shaped muscle. The pectoralis major is responsible for adduction of the arm and rotating the arm forward. The pectoralis minor is thinner and triangular, found in the lower portion of the chest, and housed under the pec major. It assists with the stabilization of the scapula .
To get well-defined pecs, you need to work both the upper and lower chest (sternal head) muscles. This means doing exercises that work the whole chest and also finding those that individually target each part of the chest. Here, we’ll break down all the upper body exercises you need to build strong lower chest muscles.
Can You Actually Work Your Lower Chest?
Yes, it is possible to work your lower chest, however, there are no exercises specific to isolating the lower chest muscles, like what you think of for a tricep workout, for example. Instead, you'll have to complete moves that target the lower chest in your lower chest exercises.
How do you work your lower chest?
Most chest moves improve size and strength of the two muscles, including your typical decline bench press, chest fly, dumbbell fly and push-up. Completing these moves on an incline or a decline helps to activate the lower chest muscle fibers. Below, we've rounded up the best lower chest exercises to add to your next upper-body day.
The Best Lower Chest Exercises to Add to Your Routine
Why it works: The push-up targets the chest muscles, upper arms, and core. There are many variations of this move you can do to target different muscle groups. While decline push-ups target your upper chest muscles, a push-up on an incline hits your lower chest muscles.
How to do it: Start in a push-up position with your hands on an elevated surface and feet on the ground. With shoulders over wrists, brace your core and bend your elbows to slowly lower. Pause at the bottom, then press up and slowly reverse the movement to return to starting position. Repeat
Decline Dumbbell Fly
Why it works: This fly variation done on a decline bench specifically targets the lower chest.
How to do it: With a bench at a decline angle, secure your feet and lay back. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip with arms straight overhead. Slowly lower dumbbells out to the sides, keeping a slight bend in the elbows to avoid elbow strain. Lower the dumbbells to chest level, pause, then engage the chest to bring dumbbells back to starting position. Repeat.
Note: It should be done with a lower weight than other exercises, so you can complete a high number of reps.
Why it works: The bent-forward cable crossover works to activate upper body muscle group, including the chest, shoulders and back. The move, performed on a cable machine, hits the sternal head (lower pecs).
How to do it: Start standing in front of the cable machine with feet hip width apart and one handle in each hand. Start with hands lower than the shoulders, elbows slightly bent to avoid elbow strain and torso forward. Slowly bring hands together, keeping constant tension with arms fully extended, moving arms downward then inward. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat.
Why it works: This move targets many muscles in your upper body, including your triceps and lower chest to help build strength. By leaning your torso forward, this move will really hit your lower chest muscles.
How to do it: Stand facing the dip bars and grip them. Engage your chest and lean your torso forward. Bend your arms to lower your body until your shoulders are beneath your elbows. Pause, then straighten your arms to return to starting position. Repeat.
Note: This is an advanced move. Beginners can use a resistance band to assist with proper form.
Decline Barbell Bench Press
Why it works: The flat bench press is a great move for activating your pecs, core, triceps, shoulders, and back. And, with a slight adjustment, you can target certain parts of the chest. Add a slight decline, and you're now focusing on your lower pecs. Tweak to an incline and you're hitting upper chest.
How to do it: Set your adjustable bench to either a 15-degree or 30-degree angle. With legs secured and arms parallel to the barbell, place your hands should be roughly wider than shoulder-width apart. To perform the move, squeeze your lower chest together and bring the barbell toward your chest to touch the lower end of your sternum. Press up to return to starting position and repeat.
Note: The decline bench press can be tricky, so start with lighter weights and work your way up as you feel comfortable. Also, be sure to check out our one-rep max bench press calculator!
Why it works: The chest press works your chest, arms, and shoulders. This move is also great for assessing muscle imbalance. (Is it easier to complete the move with one arm or the other? If so, you’ll want to work to build strength on the weaker side.)
How to do it: Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lie on your back on a flat bench with feet planted on the floor. Throughout the move, maintain a neutral spine, with shoulder blades planted firmly on the bench. Hold the dumbbells with a pronated, shoulder-width grip (palms facing forward) and arms extended and level with your eyes. Slowly lower the dumbbells toward your chest level, until dumbbells lightly touch your chest. Exhale and press dumbbells back up to starting position. Repeat.
Final Takeaways: Lower Chest Workout
While defined chest muscles are the goal for many bodybuilders, having a strong chest is key in building strength in the entire upper body—including both stronger upper and lower pecs. Your chest is responsible for adduction of the arm, shoulder stabilization leading to reduced shoulder pain, and can even aid in deeper breathing. When building your pectoral muscles, you'll be doing chest workouts that activate your chest muscle fibers and hit both the upper and lower chest region.
It's also important to include moves such as a dumbbell hip extension in your workouts, as this will strengthen the lower back, hamstrings, and pelvis, thus improving all-around athletic performance, like allowing for a heavier chest press.
And don't forget to follow up your training with proper nutrition and supplementation to aid in muscle growth. Try Transparent Labs POST post-workout recovery supplement for an evidence-based formula that promotes strength and maximizes muscle recovery after your lower chest workouts.