When you’re looking to create a strong, balanced body, the chest is a great place to start. But it’s a common misconception that the pectoralis major, or pecs, is just one part. Turns out, there are three different sections: upper, mid and lower — and getting the defined pecs of your dreams means working the muscle from top to bottom.
The lower chest may be more difficult to target than the other sections, but it can be done. For this, we turned to the fitness experts to uncover everything there is to know about a lower chest workout. Get ready to smoke this often-overlooked muscle.
How do I build my lower chest?
If you want lower chest results that are on a steep incline, you’ll have to focus on declining during your workouts. According to Joe Johnson, Qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer and Online Weight Loss Coach, this means choosing exercises where your head is closer to the ground than your feet.
“By focusing on and manipulating the angle you can help work the isolation of your lower chest separate from your middle and upper chest muscles,” adds Callie Gullickson, an Alo Moves Instructor.
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Matt Zapata, Program Director at LIT Method, says that the opposite is true for the upper chest: “You would start low and finish high.”
Once you’ve got the angle down, you can turn your attention to the other components of building muscle: repetition and consistency. “The principles for building the lower chest are the same as for any other muscle: Train close to failure 2-4 times per week, aiming for 10-20 sets per week, depending on your training experience,” explains Johnson. He adds that the more training you have under your belt, the more volume you likely need for growth.
What exercises work lower chest?
When you think about exercises that work the lower chest, push-ups and bench presses likely come to mind. But there are additional exercises you might not be thinking of, like a dip (not the artichoke kind, unfortunately).
“You have a slight lean forward from the vertical position,” explains Zapata. “So that when you press all the way up, you're putting the focus in your lower chest.”
If you have access to gym equipment, Ashley Rademacher, WITS personal trainer, CrossFit Level 1, USA Weightlifting Coach and Founder of Swift, recommends incorporating a barbell decline press or cable crossovers into your routine. “This decline set up keeps pressure on the lower chest and helps to target these muscles much more effectively,” she tells Lively.
Upright cable pulley flies, decline dumbbell flies and dumbbell presses with palms facing inwards and dumbbells touching— these are all lesser-known exercises that Johnson recommends for working the lower chest.
If you’re looking for a good lower chest workout, Tim Liu, Online Fitness Coach and CSCS, recommends starting with this:
- Decline DB Bench Press 4x8 (10 reps)
- Dips - 4x10 (15 reps)
- High-Low Cable Fly - 3x12 (15 reps)
What push-ups work out the lower chest?
With so many variations of push-ups to choose from, it can be hard knowing which version to pair with what workout. But in the case of “what push-ups work out the lower chest?” all the fitness experts unanimously agree: incline push-ups are your ticket to Defined Pec City.
For beginners, Gullickson recommends starting with a larger incline to help execute the push-up with correct form. “Intermediate or advanced can try push-ups with hands elevated about four inches from the floor.”
Performing the exercise correctly means that you will need some sort of chair nearby. (If you don’t have a chair, Johnson says that you can use an ottoman. Basically, you want your hands on an elevated platform).
“Space out your feet, press your toes into the ground and start with your elbows bent just above the chair,” explains Rex Freiberger, CEO of Discuss Diets. “Slowly push up until your arms are straight, but don't lock your elbows. Then, use your chest and arms to lower yourself back down and repeat.”
While a standard push-up will also work the lower chest, it won’t be as targeted as its inclined cousin. Remember: “The steeper the angle, the more focus there will be on the lower chest,” says Johnson.
Vital note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.