Have you ever noticed that however hard you train, your inner chest is lagging behind?
Some trainers say it comes down to your genetics, but actually, if you choose the right exercises and stay dedicated, you can develop a well-defined inner pec.
In this guide, we'll introduce the best inner chest exercises to help you isolate your inner pectoral muscles and build a great looking upper chest.
Table of Contents
- 11 Best Exercises For The Inner Chest (Try These Today)
- Anatomy Of The Inner Chest - How It Works?
- How Important Are Inner Chest Workouts For Upper Body Gains?
- Common Inner Chest Workout Questions
11 Best Exercises For The Inner Chest (Try These Today)
1. Bench Press
The bench press is the ultimate exercise for all round chest development.
It’s one of the fundamental compound exercises for hypertrophy and helps to engage the head on the inner pecs to make your whole pectoral seem more well-rounded.
This is the best inner chest exercise for people of all abilities, and if you don't have a bar, you can always use dumbbells or other free weights.
Read Also - Dumbbell Vs Barbell Bench Press
How To Guide:
- 1Lie with your back on a flat bench and a bar above you.
- 2Reach up and grip the bar with your hands just more than shoulder-width apart.
- 3Unrack the bar and slowly lower it until it’s just above your chest.
- 4Press upwards and contract your chest to push it up to starting position.
- 5Pause, and repeat for 8-12 reps.
Training Tips: Using a heavy weight is best for muscle development, but this lift requires a spotter, so there's no risk of the bar falling on you.
Keep your elbows tucked in to the side of your body to focus the exercise on your lower chest and inner pecs.
2. Cable Fly
Cable machines are great for building muscle around your inner chest.
They can be more effective than body weight and free weight exercises because the cables provide constant tension throughout the exercise.
This challenges your body more and leads to greater development.
The full range of motion from cable flys makes them useful for beginners who are getting used to the movement, but not everyone will have a cable machine at home.
See Related - Best Cable Chest Exercises For Mass
How To Guide:
- 1Set the cable handles to around shoulder height and stand straight, pointing away from the machine.
- 2Hold a handle in each hand, and step forward so your arms are pulled back.
- 3Keep a slight bend in your elbows and press your arms in towards each other.
- 4Engage your chest area as they meet in the middle, and tense your pec major.
- 5Slowly return to starting position, keeping tension throughout the movement.
- 6Repeat for 8-12 reps.
Training Tips: Really focus on contracting your inner pecs during the movement to improve your mind-muscle connection.
3. Dumbbell Fly
Dumbbell flys are one of the simplest inner chest exercises with a fairly basic movement.
The chest press movement is similar to a regular bench press or dumbbell bench press, but the controlled sideways movement is much better for engaging the inner chest.
This can lead to greater muscle gain across your entire pectorals.
Flys are a great addition to a beginner inner chest workout and can help you carve out a solid chest.
How To Guide:
- 1Lie down flat on an adjustable bench in the dumbbell bench press position.
- 2Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a hammer grip.
- 3Lift your arms straight above your chest until fully extended.
- 4Bring your arms out to your sides in a controlled arc until they’re level with your chest.
- 5Pause and return to starting position.
- 6Repeat for 8-12 reps.
Training Tips: Keep your arms with a slight bend at the elbows throughout the movement, and avoid locking your elbows.
Once you become more comfortable with the movement, you can incorporate a slight twist into your arms to give you a broader range of movement. This will help to engage your inner chest and force that part of the muscle to do the work.
If you want to make this more challenging, you can use a medicine ball instead of a bench.
4. Close Grip Bench Press
Incorporating a close or narrow grip into your bench press is a good way to grow strong inner pecs. I always recommend changing up your bench press grip.
The focus on your chest moves from the outer to the inner muscle fibers and causes a forceful contraction of your triceps to stimulate greater hypertrophy in your arms.
This is a useful exercise for beginners and should minimize any stress on your shoulders so you can focus on your tricep and chest development.
If you haven't built up much strength in your triceps, check out our guide on the best close grip bench press alterantives.
How To Guide:
- 1Lie on a flat bench under a bar and grip the bar with your hands about 6 inches apart from each other in the middle of your chest.
- 2Unrack the bar and slowly lower it to your chest until it's just a few inches away from your center chest.
- 3Press the bar upwards until your arms are fully extended.
- 4Repeat for 8-12 reps.
Training Tips: This exercise is more challenging than a standard bench press and will give you a good pump on your triceps.
Just remember to use a lower weight, typically 25-35% less than your normal bench press weight.
5. Plate Press
If you have a small home gym with limited equipment, you may be at a loss as to how to build inner chest muscles.
Well, the plate press is an effective inner chest workout that needs practically no equipment, just a single weight plate, so anyone can perform it at home.
This workout is sometimes called a Svend press, but they are both the same exercises performed with either a plate or a dumbbell.
How To Guide:
- 1Start by standing tall with a weight plate squeezed between your hands.
- 2Hold the weight just in front of your chest, and then extend your arms out completely.
- 3Keep your arms straight and slowly return them back to your chest.
- 4Repeat for 10-12 reps or as many as you can manage.
Training Tips: Try to use as heavy of a weight as possible for the plate press, but if you don't have a challenging weight, you can just implement higher reps in your routine.
6. Cable Fly (high to low)
This variation on a standard cable fly adds in some vertical movement to change the muscle groups being engaged.
It still engages the inner portion of your pecs but also targets the lower and mid-chest effectively. This makes it a good inner chest exercise for developing a massive chest.
High to low cable flys are fairly easy to perform and are suitable for people of all abilities.
You can do this chest exercise without a bench, but you will need a cable machine. Jump over to our guide on the best home cable crossover machines.
How To Guide:
- 1Set the cable handles to the top height.
- 2Stand in the middle of the towers and take a half step forward for balance.
- 3Hold a handle in each hand around shoulder height and with a slight bend in your elbow.
- 4Use your chest to push your arms forward and down until your hands meet.
- 5Pause, and then return to the start position, engaging your shoulder blades on the way back.
- 6Repeat for 10-14 reps.
Training Tips: Always perform exercises like this with one foot in front of the other.
This keeps you stable and prevents any internal rotation, which takes the strain away from your pecs and moves it to other muscles.
7. Hammer Squeeze Press
The hammer squeeze press (sometimes called hex press) is an alternative version of a dumbbell bench press that absolutely kills your inner chest.
It adds extra tension to your upper chest and triceps, which increases hypertrophy and stimulates greater muscle gain.
It can also help to improve your mind-muscle connection because you really feel the press movement.
This exercise is better suited for an advanced inner chest workout because it requires more control of the dumbbell. Beginners can try it, but you’ll need to use a light weight.
How To Guide:
- 1Lie back on a flat bench and hold a pair of dumbbells in a hammer grip.
- 2Press them close to your chest and hold them steady just above you.
- 3Press upwards until your arms are totally extended (but don’t lock your elbows).
- 4Pause and squeeze your inner pecs, and then return to starting position.
- 5Repeat for 8-10 reps.
Training Tips: This is one of the more challenging inner chest exercises, so you may need to use a lower weight at first.
Try to keep the dumbbells touching throughout the movement to really target the inner part of your pecs.
You can make it more challenging by holding a ball in between the dumbbells throughout the exercise.
8. Hybrid Fly-Press Combo
The hybrid fly press combo mixed the motion of bench presses and flys together.
By moving the weights up and across, you engage your chest fully and forces your inner pecs to stabilize the load. This helps to build your functional strength and gives you a great pump.
This is one of the best middle chest workout options for those with a bit of experience, but it’s maybe not for complete beginners because of the unique form involved.
How To Guide:
- 1Lie flat on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- 2Raise the dumbbells in a fly motion, but twist into a press as you reach the top.
- 3Lower the dumbbells slowly back down in reverse.
- 4Repeat for 8-10 reps.
Training Tips: Keep the weights straight throughout the movement, and don't let them drop as you move your arms outward, or you may not engage your chest fully.
9. Dumbbell Pullover
Dumbbell pullovers are one of the most functional exercises you can perform in the gym.
They can help you build strong shoulders and a strong back, and they exercise inner chest muscles to help stabilize the weight throughout the movement.
Pullovers are one of the best dumbbell inner chest exercises to help sculpt a well-defined chest, but they’re probably too challenging to include in a beginner’s routine.
Also Check Out - Best Dumbbell Pullover Alternatives
How To Guide:
- 1Lie on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in both hands using a hammer grip.
- 2Raise the dumbbell, so it passes up and over your head in an arc, but keep it in line with your body.
- 3Pause when your arms are fully extended over your head.
- 4Pause, and then return to starting position.
- 5Repeat for 6-10 reps.
Training Tips: Try to focus on using your chest to move the weight and keep your upper body straight. This will avoid putting too much strain on your shoulder joints.
If you find that you’re struggling to keep the weight balanced, then lean forward slightly and try raising your hips off the bench.
10. Diamond Push-Up
Diamond push-ups primarily target your triceps, but they also engage all the small muscles across your rib cage.
They are the best push-up variation for developing your pec strength and can help you to really define your chest.
Inner chest push-up exercises are particularly effective because they make use of your body's full range of motion. The mechanics of the exercise are challenging at first, so beginners may struggle.
However, persistence is key with this bodyweight exercise, and if you keep going, you will be able to master it.
Read Also - Diamond Push Up Benefits
How To Guide:
- 1Start on all fours in the push-up position.
- 2Move your hands together, so they meet and form a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers touching.
- 3Keep your back in a straight line, and slowly lower yourself towards the floor.
- 4Stop just before your chest touches the floor, and then return to starting position.
- 5Repeat for 10-14 reps, or keep going until failure.
Training Tips: Try to keep your back straight and your elbows in during the push-up movement.
This will focus the effort on your chest and triceps rather than your shoulders and maximize your inner chest engagement.
11. Single Arm Cable Fly (Lying Down)
This unilateral exercise allows you to target one side of your body and pecs at a time.
The single arm movement helps you to isolate your inner pec one side at a time and can help you focus on any weakness on one side.
It also allows you to practice the full range of motion and improve your flexibility.
This exercise is perfect for advanced lifters looking to load up more weight and isolate one side of their body with a really tough lift.
It’s also useful for anyone carrying an injury on one side.
How To Guide:
- 1Set your pulley to the lowest setting and position a bench underneath.
- 2Lie down on the bench with one hand holding the cable machine handle and pulled away from you.
- 3Feel the stretch in your pecs, and pull the cable inward, so your arm is straight up over your chest.
- 4Pause, and then slowly return to the start position.
- 5Repeat for 10-14 reps.
Training Tips: This exercise can be done from a standing, sitting, or lying down position, so you can choose whatever is comfortable.
By lying down, you'll take your lower body out of the equation and really focus the effort on your chest.
If you don't have a cable machine, you can use resistance bands to mirror the pulling motion.
Anatomy Of The Inner Chest - How It Works?
Your inner chest muscles are basically just your pectoralis major. These are the big chest muscles across your upper body that make up the majority of your pecs.
You also have your pectoralis minor, but this doesn’t really reach your inner chest and won’t influence your inner pecs.
Your pectoralis major is made up of two muscle heads; the clavicular head and the sternocostal head.
These muscle heads work together in most compound movements, but your inner chest is primarily the sternocostal head of the pectoralis major.
There are 4 key movements that these inner pec muscles help to support:
Fly and press chest movements will use all of these movements and help you build a massive chest.
By building a defined inner and lower chest, you won't just help to improve how you look; you'll also be improving your functional movements.
How Important Are Inner Chest Workouts For Upper Body Gains?
Inner chest training is often neglected, but it should form an important part of your chest workout for a few key reasons:
More Complete Pectoral Muscles
The number one reason to use the best inner chest exercises when you train is to give it a more complete look.
A regular inner pec hit will leave you looking more imposing and stronger, helping you with overall muscle gain in your upper chest region.
Related Article - Best Lower Chest Workouts
The inner pec muscles are important for a range of arm and upper body movements.
By isolating the inner pec with a varied chest routine, you can make sure you're training some of the smaller muscle fibers, which improve your overall balance and strength.
It also helps to support your arms and shoulders, which can help you during other workouts.
Improved balance and strength mean you’ll get better performance, and it’s one of the key reasons athletes incorporate these exercises into their chest workout.
It improves your functional strength and makes lateral, vertical, and rotational movements easier.
This increased flexibility improves your posture and back strength, too, making it easier to use your muscle mass to a more significant effect.
Common Inner Chest Workout Questions
Why is there a gap between my pectoral muscles?
This gap between your pecs can be caused by genetics, but it may be because you haven't developed your inner chest properly. Performing more compound exercises and targeted inner chest isolation exercises can help you to build well-rounded pectorals.
How long does it take to get big inner chest pecs?
It generally takes 10-12 weeks of dedicated workouts where you perform the same exercises daily with weights or machines. It can take longer to train inner pecs, but it can be influenced by your genetics.
How many reps should I do for chest workout?
For a weighted inner chest exercise, you should aim for 10-12 reps, and once you can do more than 14, you should increase the weight. For bodyweight exercises, you should aim for 12-16 reps and just keep increasing as your strength improves.
Should you train your chest & triceps together?
Chest and triceps are good to train together because they are generally both engaged in compound chest exercises. However, it’s still a good idea to train your triceps, upper, lower, and middle chest separately with isolation exercises to stimulate more even muscle growth.
Having a well-developed chest makes you look great but also helps to stabilize your entire body.
A key part of chest development is inner chest muscle activation, and it's important that you train this area as much as you train your outer pecs.
By using a few of these exercises, you can develop the best inner pec hit routine around to maximize your gains and improve your functional strength.
Hopefully, this guide has given you everything you need, and you feel ready to start increasing your chest size today.
Last Updated on January 17, 2023