Almost everyone who wants to build a strong upper body does some form of chest exercise. But most of these are flat exercises such as a flat bench press. To have a fully developed chest you need to do decline for the lower chest and incline for the upper chest.
We’ll be covering the lower chest for this article. For a guy who wants an aesthetically looking chest, the lower chest is a crucial muscle to work. Look at any male fitness model with their shirt off and you see how well-developed their lower chest is.
What are all the chest muscles, and their importance?
Your chest has four different muscle groups; the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, and subclavius. The pectoralis major is what most people would consider the chest muscle. When you see a fit male with a developed chest what you see is the pectoralis major.
Pectoralis minor is a smaller muscle underneath the pectoralis major. The serratus anterior is along the side of the chest below the pectoralis minor, and the subclavius is located in your clavicular area. Your chest muscles' main functions are to push your arms away from your body and rotate your arms towards you.
Lower Chest Exercises for Mass
Decline barbell bench press
On a decline bench do a bench press. There are 3 versions of a standard bench press the flat, incline, and decline. The decline works on your lower chest. You’re able to lift more on the decline because you have less range of motion. Focus on squeezing the bar to activate the lower pectorals even more. The main advantage of a barbell versus a dumbbell is you can lift more because you can balance it better.
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Do some flys on a decline bench to target the lower chest muscle but also your mid-chest. It’s important to always set up properly on a bench especially when you’re in a decline. Feel the stretch of your chest as you lower the dumbbell.
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Many people do dips to work their triceps but by changing the angle of your body you can target your chest. On a dip bar instead of having your body vertical, you’re going to lean your body slightly forward so there’s an angle. The more you move forward the more stress goes from your triceps onto your chest muscles.
Decline twisting dumbbell press
With a decline twisting dumbbell press, you’re combining a chest press and a chest fly. The only difference in movement from a chest press is at the top you’re ending it with a fly getting the dumbbells together. Using the dumbbells also forces you to stabilize the weight and you can’t cheat with your stronger arm, unlike a barbell.
Decline Smith Machine Press Negative
On a smith machine with 1 hand lower the bar down to your chest for a 3-second count. Then with both arms lift it back up to the rack position. Repeat with the other arm. Variable rep speed training is important to change it up. Fast reps are for strength and power, slow reps are to build more muscle.
Lower Chest Exercises for Definition
At the cable machine put 1 of the cables at the top. Grab the handle and have it around your armpit. Your end position is past the midline of your body. Try to get your elbow to touch your sternum. At the top position rotate your body slightly which will help to get your elbow to drive closer to the sternum.
Kneeling X press
Place the cables at the top. Step forward and slightly angle your body forward. Move the cables as if you’re doing a chest press. The difference is you’re going to cross the cables over making the X.
Decline Cable Dip
Use a decline bench at a cable machine. As you’re pushing the hands are following the angle of your body. You can even add a rotation of your hands at the bottom to add more activation. Decline cable dips are a great way to gain mass if you’re unable to do weighted dips.
On the pec deck (also known as the chest fly machine) place your hands so they’re level or even just below your lower chest. This will target more of your lower pectorals.
Decline Plate push
Grab a plate at the lower chest level and focus on squeezing the plate throughout the exercise. Push the plate down and as you’re still squeezing the plate also start to squeeze your elbows together. The squeezing is what will result in the defined pecs you're looking for. As you bring the plate back you can release the elbows but keep squeezing the plate.
Calisthenics Exercises for Lower Chest
A lower chest workout does not have to be with equipment alone. If you are traveling, or simply don't have equipment, you can still use your bodyweight to focus on the lower chest muscles.
Decline Push Ups
You can do this with a table, bed, or anything sturdy enough to hold your bodyweight. Place your hands on the table slightly wider than shoulder-width and do a regular push up. Because you’re forced to lean over, your body is in a decline position targeting your lower chest. The difficulty is based on how high the object is. The higher the object the easier it is.
Decline Twisting Push Up
If a traditional decline push up is too easy you can make it harder by adding a twist at the top. As you push up you’re going to rotate your body away. This will add more contraction and more of a load as you focus on the 1 side more at the top. You can make it even harder using push up bars.
Decline object push
This is like the decline plate push but you can use any object for this. A book, bag, folded piece of clothing. Anything you can think of that won’t break when you squeeze it. Even though the object might barely weigh anything you’re still able to activate the chest. This movement is more about flexing and activating your chest muscles.
Planche Push Ups
These push ups have your hands placed down to your rib cage area. Your body is angled like a decline push up. If they’re too hard you can always start with doing them on your knees and work your way up.
Modified Hindu push up
In a Hindu push up you’re going from a downward dog position into a cobra position. To focus more on the lower chest you’re only doing the middle ⅓ of the Hindu push up. So you’re not going all the way to a downward dog or cobra position. Also, keep your elbows away from your body so you take some of the load off your triceps and to your chest.
Example Lower Chest Workout Routine
There’s no need to work the lower chest more than once a week if you already have a designated chest day. Ideally, you should incorporate some lower chest exercises in your chest day already. But if you want to add an extra day to make sure you hit your lower chest more here’s a sample workout routine you can do.
Read Also: Dumbbell chest exercises without a bench
The key to making the most of a lower chest workout day is you need to focus on flexing the appropriate muscle to get the most out of the workout. You probably went fairly heavy on your normal chest day so if you’re going to add this you should go a lot lighter and focus on the muscle contraction. For each exercise feel the stretch of the chest on the negative and flex the chest as you do the positive. If you have trouble doing your final rep then the weight is too heavy. Try to do as perfect form as possible.
Try this workout routine for 3-8 weeks. The more advanced you are the quicker your body will adapt so you can change it out to a different routine. Beginners need more time to get good at the exercise and these are fairly basic exercises you can do.
Decline Bench Press - 3 sets 8-12 reps
Decline Flys - 3 sets 8-12 reps
Dips - 3 sets 8-12 reps
Decline Plate Push 3 sets 8-12 reps
Planche Push Ups 3 sets 8-12 reps
Now go develop that lower chest
Now you know how to develop your lower chest muscles more. Whether you have access to equipment or not you can find a way to activate the lower chest. Always remember when targeting your lower chest to always focus on the stretch and contraction.