If you’re trying to build mass, create definition, or just strengthen your chest you need to include lower chest workouts into your chest day routine to make sure you’re training the entire area.
In this article we’re going to discuss the best lower chest exercises and break them down into machine, free weight and bodyweight categories so that if your at the gym, home or find yourself with no equipment at all, you can still put a proper workout together.
We’ll also learn the best tricks to target the lower chest and receive an intense workout every time.
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The Anatomy Of Your Chest Muscles
The pectoralis major is made up of two parts
- Clavicular, which is the upper chest muscle.
- Sternal, lower chest muscle.
The area we’re looking to hit is in the sternal part of the chest where you will find the abdominal head of the pectoralis, this is found within the lower most part of the pecs angled from bottom to top moving in the direction of your humerus.
Training your lower chest will make your upper body look more aesthetic and complete, a lot of people put all their attention into the upper chest and wonder why they don’t look as big or defined.
This is because when you train the lower chest muscle you make your chest more rounded, defined and stronger creating a more visually appealing look.
The Importance Of A Well Trained Chest.
All of your upper body muscles are interconnected and help support each other during everyday wear and tear, especially if you’re performing intense workouts 3, 4, 5 times a week.
Your chest muscles are paramount when performing upper body workouts like push ups, dips and all overhead movements such as presses and chin ups.
They also play an important role in your posture, back development and shoulder movement.
How Do You Target The Bottom Of Your Chest?
It’s all about the angle…
If you do an incline bench you’ll stimulate the upper chest, using a flat bench or decline bench you will now target the lower chest muscles.
It’s opposite for a push up though, an incline push up will use the lower chest while a decline push up will use the upper chest.
The angle that your body is in while doing certain exercises will have all the say in which muscles you will be working.
The amount of weight you use on a incline bench press may be more than what you will use on a decline bench press, be careful and learn what works best for you without getting hurt.
The Best Exercises To Target The Lower Chest
I’m going to break this section down into 3 groups…
- Free Weight exercises.
- Machine or cable exercises.
- Bodyweight exercises.
I am in no way saying that you need to pick a group and only do those types of exercises, in fact that would be the last thing I would want you to do.
I’m doing it this way for convenience…
Lets say your traveling and don’t have access to weights or a gym, now you can utilise the bodyweight exercises.
Or you have a home gym that has free weights and no machines, now you’ll know which moves to use for free weights.
If you go to the gym you can incorporate all of the exercises together to find out what works best for you with all the options available.
Free Weight Exercises For The Lower Chest
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
1. Lock your legs in and lay down on the decline bench while holding a dumbbell on top of your thighs. Make sure that the palms of your hands are facing each other.
2. Now move the dumbbells in front of you always keeping them at shoulder width.
3. Your starting position will be with your wrists rotated so that they are facing away from you, make sure that you are still at shoulder width.
4. Bring the dumbbells down at a controlled speed slowly to your side, your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor throughout the entire movement. If you feel like you don’t have control of the weights the entire time you need to lighten your load.
5. Using your chest muscles push the dumbbells up, once you feel your muscles contracted at the top lock your arms out and hold it for a second or two and then start to slowly come down. (It should take you at least twice as long to bring the weights down than when you push the weights up.
Dumbbell Pull Over
Using a bench, lie down on your back perpendicular to the bench while laying a dumbbell in your lap, make sure that your head isn’t hanging over. It should be stabilized enough that you don’t feel any strain on your neck.
1. Flex your hips slightly and grasp your lone dumbbell from the side with both hands under the inner plate of the dumbbell
2. Raise the dumbbell over your chest making sure to keep your elbows slightly bent.
3. Now lower the dumbbell over and beyond your head until your upper arms are in line with your torso.
4. Pull the dumbbell back up and over your chest and repeat.
5. Make sure to keep your hips from raising during the exercise and the amount of range you are able to achieve is going to depend on your shoulder flexibility, don’t over do it and hurt yourself.
Decline Barbell Bench Press
1. Secure your legs at the end of the bench and lay down.
2. With a medium width grip you want to maintain a 90 degree angle in the middle of the exercise between the forearms and the upper arms, lift the bar from the rack and lift it straight over you while keeping your arms locked. Your arms should stay perpendicular to the floor. This is your starting position.
3. Come down at a slow controlled rate until the bar touches your chest, do not bounce the bar off of your chest you should always have 100% control of the weight.
4. After pausing for a second or two, bring the bar back to the starting position lock your arms and squeeze your chest while your muscles are in the contracted state, hold for a second and then start coming down again at a slow controlled rate. Again, you should take at least twice as long coming down as going up.
5. repeat until you have completed your sets, if you are new to this exercise use a spotter or be very careful about the amount of weight you try to lift at first.
6. Also be leary of how far forward the bar moves, you want the bar to touch the lower chest and not anywhere else.
Decline Dumbbell Flyes
1. lock your legs in and lie down holding a dumbbell in each hand placing them on top of your thighs, make sure the palms of your hands are facing each other.
2. Bring the dumbbells in front of you keeping them at shoulder width, your arms should be perpendicular to the floor and fully extended, while keeping the palms of your hands facing each other. This is your starting position.
3. While keeping a slight bend to your elbows, lower your arms out to the side in a wide arc until you feel your chest muscles stretch. Making sure you keep your elbows bent is important because this will prevent you from putting stress on the biceps tendon.
4. Using the same exact arc as going down, bring the dumbbells up to the starting position. Hold for a second or two as your chest muscles are contracted and repeat until your reps are done.
Decline Dumbbell Press With A Rotation.
1. Lock your legs in and lie down on your bench holding a dumbbell in each hand resting them on top of your thighs.
2. Bring the dumbbells up over your chest, making sure to have your palms facing away from you.
3. In a controlled manner bring the weights down to your armpits and slowly rotate your elbows in to your sides.
4. slowly push the weight back up while swinging your elbows out until you end up in the starting position again.
5. hold for a second or two while your chest muscles are contracted and repeat. It should take twice as long to bring the weights down as it does to push them up.
Cable Or Machine Exercises For The Lower Chest.
Seated Machine Flyes
1.Select your resistance, sit on the machines seat and adjust it so that your feet are completely flat on the floor.
2. Grab the handles of the machine making sure that your hands are level with your shoulders, keeping a slight bend in your elbows bring your hands together.
3. When you feel your chest muscles contract hold the exercise for a second or two then slowly release back to the starting position.
1. Select your resistance, position the pulleys above your head and grab each pulley with your hands.
2. Step forward while slightly bending your torso, pull your arms together in front of you. This is your starting position.
3. Keeping your elbows slightly bent to prevent hurting your biceps tendon, move your arms straight out to the side in an arc until you feel tension in your chest. Always keep your arms and torso stationary all the movement should be done at your shoulder joints.
4. Using the same arc as before return back to the starting position, make sure to hold the position for a second before repeating until your reps are done.
Cable Lower Chest Raise
1. Set up at a low pulley cable machine, stand in front of the machine with one foot forward and one back, grab both handles with each hand while keeping your hands by your side.
2. Slowly raise the handles up in front of your body ending about chest high and squeeze your chest.
3. Hold for a second or two while contracting your chest muscles, then slowly lower the handles back to the starting position.
4. Make sure the lowering motion takes twice as long as the raising motion.
Chest Fly Pulses
1. Stand in front of the cable machine with one foot forward and one back and grab the handles with each hand.
2. With your elbows slightly bent bring your arms in front of your body until they almost touch.
3. When your arms are almost touching hold the movement there contract your chest muscles and alternate opening and closing your arms isolating the chest muscles while you do this.
4. Slowly open your arms to the starting position and rest, do 4 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Bodyweight Exercises to Build Your Lower Chest
1. Find a dip station or any parallel bars that are stable, even the edge of a table will work. Hold your body at arms length with your arms locked out above the bar or table.
2. Slowly lower yourself while angling your torso forward and bending your elbows slightly until you feel it in your chest.
3. Once you feel your chest tighten, push yourself back up and hold at the top as you contract your chest muscles.
Incline Push Ups
1. Find a sturdy elevated platform, a plyo box or a bench will do just fine.
2. Place your hands on the side or edge of platform keeping your elbows slightly farther than shoulder width
3. Start off with your arms locked out pushing your body up, keep your body straight and your back flat, now lower yourself to the platform by bending your arms.
4. Slowly push yourself back up and pause at the top as you contract your chest muscles.
Walking Push Ups
1. Get into a standard push up position making sure your body is straight and your back flat.
2. Do a push up, then move your right hand to the side a few inches followed by your left and do another push up.
3. Now move both hands back to the original spot and execute another push up.
4. This time your going to move your left hand a few inches to the left followed by your right hand and do another push up.
5. You just did 4 push ups that equal 1 rep.
Tips To Help You Train Your Lower Chest
In this section I just want to go over some tips to either help you isolate the lower chest or ways to increase the intensity of your workout.
1. Use a larger % of free weights than machines
Machines are more user friendly and a lot of people are intimidated by free weights but you will receive a much more intense workout using free weights.
It is much easier to isolate a single muscle with weights rather than machines and for those of you that have time restraints, a harder more intense workout means you can get more out if it in less time.
2. Execute a lower chest exercise into the beginning of your workout
The 2 most important rules when it comes to building muscle is progression and intensity, you’re most intense when your not tired so if you perform a certain exercise early in your fitness routine when your strength. energy and focus is at its highest.
3. Incorporate more exercises into your routine for one certain muscle
If you’re trying to target a particular muscle that your having a hard time developing than try adding another exercise move for this muscle group later on in your workout.
Try using different angles or mixing up free weights with bodyweight exercises and machines.
Different variations will help you hit different muscle fibers causing a better overall development.
4. Train certain muscles after a rest day
If you’re trying to isolate or pay more attention to a single muscle group doing it after a rest day will ensure that your body’s glycogen storage will be full ( in layman’s terms you’ll have more energy). To perform a more intense workout.
It will also help that your shoulders and triceps will be rested due to the fact that most chest exercises are multi joint exercises.
If you do train your chest in the middle of the week try not to exercise shoulders or arms the day before.
Another way to make sure your chest is doing more of the work is to keep your elbows from getting to close to your torso, this will take less stress off of your triceps allowing you to isolate the chest more.
5. Don’t half ass your tricep training
As you know your triceps play a big role in your chest workouts, if your triceps are weak they will become a weak point in your chest training and prevent you from pushing your chest muscles to concentric failure.
As I stated above just make sure you train your triceps a couple days before your chest.
6. Leave your ego at the door
To many guys are so worried about the amount of weight their lifting to stroke their ego they don’t realize it will actually hurt your gains.
If the weight is to heavy you’re going to have to use your arms and shoulders more, this causes your chest day to turn into arm day.
Be patient use correct form and technique and your numbers will go up.
Everyone knows how important developing your chest muscles are, for the vast majority of us the bench press was probably the first move we ever did.
Yet I see time and time again people unhappy with the shape of their chest and it mostly due to them ignoring the lower chest’
It’s an easy muscle to target you just have to fit it into your fitness routine and make sure to use proper form.