One of the main goals of every man who goes to the gym is to build chest muscles.

Although every chest exercise trains the lower pecs, we often find it way more difficult to emphasize the lower pecs compared to the upper pecs.

That's why I analyzed numerous exercises to discover the ones that target those muscle group fibers primarily. The following 10 are the movements that have proven to be the most effective.

Even though we often talk about the upper, middle, and lower pecs, it is actually a single large superficial muscle located in the upper body.

Unlike the deltoids, which are three separate muscles, the pectoralis major is composed of only one set of muscle fibers.

The pectoralis minor is the lower portion located under the pec major and has great anatomical importance because it stabilizes the scapula. But visually, only the pectoralis major matters.

Anatomy Of The Chest Muscles

Then the question arises of how it is possible to target lower pecs when it is not two muscles. However, research has shown that regional hypertrophy is possible.[1]

In order to better explain it to you, it is necessary to talk about the origin and insertion points of a muscle.

The pectoralis major is a large, triangular or fan-shaped muscle; hence it has multiple insertion points. This is exactly the reason why you can target different parts of the same muscle.

Also, muscle fibers run in somewhat different directions, which also has an impact.

The middle and lower pecs (sternal head) belong to the sternocostal part of the muscle, while the upper pecs belong to the clavicular part because the insertion point is on the collarbone (clavicle) and the humerus (upper arm bone) too.

Therefore the angle at which you bring your arm forward determines which part of the pectoral muscle will be more engaged, but the whole muscle will always be involved in the movement.

The origin of the pectoralis minor is located on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ribs while it inserts into the coracoid process of the scapula.[2]

10 Best Lower Chest Exercises To Power Up Your Pecs

So how do you workout your lower chest?

To help you out here are the best lower chest exercises that'll allow you to increase the strength and size of the lower pecs. Add several of them to your workout routine for a barrel-like chest.

1. Bar Dips

Man Doing Bar Dips

This chest exercise is extremely popular because of its effectiveness and because you can do it almost anywhere. It's one of the best calisthenics exercises around.

Have you ever heard someone referring to the bar dip as "the squat of the entire upper body?"

This is quite true since there aren't many, upper body exercises that can involve so many muscle groups. During the dip you'll be using your chest, triceps, delts, lats, and even your core to keep you stabilized. 

It's suitable for most ability levels as it has multiple regressions and progressions. Advanced gym-goers often decide to add weight with a dip belt and thus make bar dips even more difficult.

I compiled a list of even more dip bar exercises here!

Target: Triceps brachii, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, forearms, lower back, core

Benefits:

  • Uses a wide range of motion. 
  • Uses your body weight. 
  • Develops a thick chest. 

How To Do It:

  1. Stand between the bars or in front of it, depending on the type of bar, and hold it firmly with both hands.
  2. Begin by extending your arms.
  3. Bend your elbows and begin to slowly descend your body to include the negatives in the movement.
  4. When you have reached your maximum in terms of the range of motion and strength, push back to the starting position.

Tips From A Trainer!

Weak wrists and core often prevent people from doing this exercise. If you are one of them, start with static holds, band-assisted dips, and negative dips until you can do parallel bar dips properly.

2. Chest Dips

Man Doing Weighted Chest Dips

This is a variation of the classic triceps dip exercise. When you lean your chest forward, you will shift the focus from the triceps to the pectorals. 

When you perform the chest dip exercise, your shoulders will go past your elbows, thus putting your pecs under greater tension, which stimulates more muscle growth. 

However, your shoulders can sometimes be aggravated during chest dips, so if you've had a recent injury or just want to keep them safe, I'd suggest being careful with this movement.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, triceps brachii, anterior deltoids, forearms, core

Benefits:

  • Uses a large range of motion.
  • Places more emphasis on your chest. 
  • Uses your body weight.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand in front of a dip machine and hold the handles firmly using both hands.
  2. Straighten your arms and lean slightly forward.
  3. Keep your elbows slightly bent to avoid elbow strain and slowly lower your body. The whole movement should be controlled.
  4. At the bottom of the movement, push back up to the starting position and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Struggling with this movement? Use an assisted dip machine or resistance band to help you perform the exercise. 

3. Bench Press Or Decline Bench Press

Man Doing Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press is a popular compound exercise which targets your lower chest workout.

It is a compound movement that activates some of the biggest upper body muscles, such as the chest, triceps, and deltoids. The chest press is one of my favourite exercises for building strength and increasing muscle mass. I often use it with my personal training clients.

You can use a barbell or dumbbells for the bench press.

Using a barbell during bench press allows you to push more weight while dumbbells often feel heavier as they work each arm individually. Dumbbells are often safer because you can drop them next to you in case of mid-rep failure.

Some people feel dizzy doing a decline dumbbell bench press (or any other decline bench press alternative variation). This is due to your head being below the rest of your body.

If this is the case with you, try to change the decline angle or skip decline bench press and replace it with another lower chest exercise from this list like chest dips or cable crossover.

If you don't have these issues, then I believe you should definitely include it in your routine.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, triceps brachii, anterior deltoids

benefits:

  • Targets your lower pecs. 
  • You can lift more weight compared to traditional bench press. 
  • Uses a wide range of motion. 

How To Do It:

  1. Put weights on a barbell or place dumbbells close to you.
  2. Lie down on the flat/slight decline bench.
  3. Grip a barbell slightly wider than shoulder width or place dumbbells at that width.
  4. Slowly lower the weight to your sternum (breastbone).
  5. Pause in the bottom position for a moment.
  6. Press the weight back up.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you want to use less shoulders, you can try floor press. OR, you can try different bench press grips such as hammer grip (also known as neutral grip).

4. Cable Crossover

Woman Doing Cable Crossover

The cable crossover is often called the cable chest fly, so I could have mentioned it as a variation or alternative of the chest fly movement.

However, the cable crossover is a brilliant lower chest exercise that I couldn't leave off this list. 

There are several reasons why this exercise is one of the best lower chest exercises. The first reason is the angle at which you target the lower chest region.

Another reason is the huge range of motion that your muscles have to work through. Which will stimulate your lower chest to grow. The only downside to this movement is that you'll need access to a cable machine.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, latissimus dorsi, anterior deltoids, biceps brachii

benefits:

  • Uses a large range of motion. 
  • Can be adapted to specifically target the lower pecs. 
  • Trains each arm separately. 

How To Do It:

  1. Set the cable machine pulleys at the highest level.
  2. Stand in-between with one foot in front of the other and take both handles.
  3. Lean your torso forward, the same as for the chest dip. Maintain your spine straight and a slight bend of the elbows.
  4. Keep the core tight.
  5. Pull both handles down and across your body.
  6. At the end of the movement, squeeze the lower chest muscles.
  7. Slowly return to the starting position without extending the elbows.

Tips From A Trainer!

Don't lift too heavy during this movement. You should focus on slow and controlled reps over the amount of weight you can lift. 

5. Dumbbell Pullover

Man Doing Dumbbell Pullover on a Bench

The dumbbell pullover is a challenging exercise for all abilities of gym-goers because it also targets some less active muscles such as the serratus anterior and teres major. 

Working on those muscles will give your lower pec muscle fibers a more defined look and increased strength, which will translate into an improved bench press and will assist you during other exercises.

The dumbbell pullover has become one of my favorite chest building exercises to add to my upper body days. 

However, it can cause some joint pain in some gym-goers. If you feel shoulder pain while performing the dumbbell pullover, reduce the weight or try a dumbbell pullover alternative workout.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, teres major, triceps brachii, deltoids

benefits:

  • Stretches your chest muscle fibers. 
  • Uses a large range of movement. 
  • Suitable for all ability levels. 

How To Do It:

  1. Lie on your back on a bench or lie on the edge of the bench depending on what you find more comfortable.
  2. Slightly bend your elbows and hold one dumbbell with both hands.
  3. Place the dumbbell over your chest.
  4. Extend the arms back and let the weight reach behind the head.
  5. When you've stretched your lower pecs and lats to the limit, pull the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Tips From A Trainer!

The resistance band may help beginners and those with shoulder pain to progress with this exercise before moving on to the dumbbell pullover. 

6. Chest Flys

Man Doing Dumbbell Chest Flys

Chest flys are a fantastic chest exercise that you can perform on a flat, incline, or decline bench using cables, dumbbells, or machines. This makes flys one of the most versatile exercises for the pectoralis muscles.

Decline dumbbell fly or cable fly is especially beneficial for the lower pecs. I've found it to emphasize your lower muscle fibers while working them through a wide range of motion. 

When you're in the decline fly position, shoulders and upper pecs are significantly less involved. 

Of course, lower pecs can't be totally isolated since it is compound movement and because of the characteristics of the pectoralis major, which I will explain in depth later.

During the chest fly, you don't need to use a lot of weight, which makes this movement great for all abilities.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, anterior deltoids, biceps brachii, serratus anterior

benefits:

  • Stretches your chest through a large range of motion. 
  • Suitable for most abilities. 

How To Do It:

  1. Lie down on the bench.
  2. Take dumbbells or handles.
  3. Push the weight above your chest, with your palms facing each other, and a slight bend of the elbows is recommended.
  4. Drive your arms slowly outward.
  5. Aim for width, not depth.
  6. As you get to the bottom of the fly, pause for a moment, and then push the weight back to the starting position.

Tips From A Trainer!

Avoid touching the dumbbells or handles at the top of the movement to keep the muscles under tension throughout the full ROM. 

7. Underhand Front Raise

Man Doing Underhand Front Raise

You need to have a pair of dumbbells for this lower pectoral exercise.

Unlike the standing underhand front raise, where the focus is on the anterior deltoids, the focus shifts to the upper chest when you sit down. This is because of the angle of the bench which changes the target area. 

I've found this movement simple to perform this exercise, making it suitable for beginners.

On the flip side, it's difficult to lift heavy weights during the movement, so always strive for lighter weight, more reps, and proper execution.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, anterior deltoids, biceps brachii

benefits:

  • Suitable for beginners. 
  • Doesn't require a lot of weight. 

How To Do It:

  1. Set the incline bench at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees.
  2. Place dumbbells on both sides.
  3. Sit down, grab the dumbbells and place them on your knees.
  4. Lift the weights up front until you reach the level of your middle chest.
  5. Then, return the dumbbells to the level of your thighs.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you want to place constant tension on your muscles, use a cable machine instead of dumbbells.  

Related Article - Different Types Of Dumbbells

8. Plate Pinch Press

Man in Blue Shirt Doing Plate Pinch Press

A plate pinch press or a plate squeeze press specifically targets the inner chest. 

The goal of this exercise is not to improve overall strength but to build the inner and lower chest through increased time under tension.

Since you have to squeeze the weight continuously, the contraction of the pecs lasts through the entire range of motion.

I've found that you get the best results by performing the plate pinch press to failure. This stimulates the muscles to the max. And, it's possible to reach failure even with a lighter weight.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, anterior deltoids, triceps brachii

benefits:

  • Suitable for all ability levels. 
  • Doesn't require a lot of weight. 
  • Uses time under tension.

How To Do It:

  1. Lay on a flat or incline bench.
  2. Grab the plate between your hands and hold it firmly.
  3. Perform the bench press movement but don’t forget to squeeze the plate throughout the repetition and thus maintain constant tension.
  4. Add a negative phase too.

Tips From A Trainer!

I've performed this exercise in the past with resistance bands. Rather than holding two plates together, I've held two resistance bands together by attaching them to a fixed point on either side of my body. This creates one of the best chest pumps I've felt.  

9. Machine Triceps Pushdown

Man Doing Machine Triceps Pushdown

Triceps are the primary muscles in this exercise as the name suggests.

However, you'll be surprised how much the pecs are actually involved in this movement. I've even found you can place more emphasis on the chest by leaning forward during the exercise. 

The machine tricep dip uses a large range of motion which fully stretches your chest, triceps, and delts. 

Additionally, by strengthening the triceps and upper arms as well as the lower chest it allows you to progress on the bench press and other exercises where the pecs are the primary muscles.

Target: Triceps brachii, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, latissimus dorsi, trapezius

benefits:

  • Uses a large range of motion. 
  • Suitable for most abilities. 
  • Doesn't require a spotter.

How To Do It:

  1. Set the appropriate weight.
  2. Sit and grab the handles.
  3. Keep elbows slightly bent.
  4. Push the weight down.
  5. Make sure your elbows don't go outward.
  6. Control the weight as it returns to the starting position.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you notice your back bends during the exercise and feel fatigued in your back muscles, you should reduce the weight. 

10. Incline & Decline Push-Ups

Woman Doing Decline Push-Ups

In my opinion, you just can't go wrong with the push-up. This all-time classic can be a useful part of an entire warm-up routine, gym or callisthenics based workout.

I especially like to do push-ups during a vacation to stay in shape if I don't have access to the gym.

For lower pecs, incline and decline push-ups are more valuable than basic ones. However, for maximum efficiency, do them to failure and think about going through the entire range of motion.

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, triceps brachii, anterior shoulders, latissimus dorsi, biceps brachii, core

benefits:

  • Uses your body weight. 
  • You can do them anywhere. 

How To Do It:

  1. Depending on whether you are doing decline or incline push-ups, put your hands or toes/knees on the bench or box in push-up position.
  2. Whether you will place your hands shoulder width, closer or wider depends on your strength and which muscles you want to primarily target.
  3. Keep the spine straight and shoulder blades retracted toward’s your body’s midline.
  4. Slowly lower yourself until your chest is close to the floor/box/bench.
  5. Explosively return to the starting position.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you want to make the movement more difficult, place a weighted plate on your back or wear a weighted vest for incline and decline variations because it is more comfortable. You could even use a resistance band around your shoulders. 

Benefits Of Training Your Lower Chest

Well-rounded, defined chest muscles are certainly not the only benefit of training your lower chest. Aesthetics is only one less important part of the puzzle.

Improved Posture

Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis are some of the most common abnormalities of the spine.

When treating these problems, the focus is usually on the back muscles, glutes, and hamstrings, while the chest muscles are often overlooked.

Since these are very large muscles, their weakness or stiffness can also cause improper posture or muscle imbalance.

On the other hand, when you train the pectoral muscles, you achieve a better posture of the spine and the position of the shoulders.

Better Breathing

Chest muscles, attached to your ribs, and intercostal muscles, that lie between your ribs, play a key role in breathing.

Strong muscles in that region enable deep breathing and thereby increase lung capacity.

Improved Athletic Performance

Your athletic performance will benefit you in different ways.

Deeper breathing, which we talked about in the previous paragraph, is crucial for performance because your heart, brain, and the rest of the body will get a significantly higher amount of oxygen during maximum efforts.

That's not all. Strong pecs affect the weights you can lift during a workout, and as you get stronger, your performance improves.

Man Doing Cable Machine Flys

Lower Chest Workout Plan

If you're looking to develop your lower chest, the workouts below will help. Each is tailored to suit all abilities, so whether you're a gym newbie or advanced lifter, there's something for you. 

I recommend performing these workouts roughly twice a week with adequate recovery time (48hrs minimum) between workouts.

Beginner Workout:

This beginner workout will get your lower chest popping. I recommend taking around 60 seconds between sets, but if you need more then don't worry too much. The key with this workout is to learn the movements so that you can progress further down the line. 

Bar Dips (use a resistance band to assist you if needed)

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 5-8 (or as many as you can do, but do not push to failure)

Decline Bench Press (with light weights)

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-12

Cable Crossover (light resistance)

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 12-15

Dumbbell Pullover (with light weights)

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 12-15

Decline Push-Ups (you can put your feet on a step or low bench)

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 8-10

Intermediate Workout:

Now you've mastered the basics, the intermediate workout will take things up a level. The sets and reps will be slightly larger. However, I've adjusted the rest period to allow you to recover your strength as I expect you to be lifting a little heavier from now on. 

Recommended rest period 60-90 seconds.

Chest Dips

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 8-12

Decline Bench Press

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 8-12

Chest Flys

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-12

Dumbbell Pullover

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15

Decline Push-Ups

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15

Advanced Workout:

During this advanced workout, you should be aiming to perform more sets per exercise and to have a moderate rest period between each set. I recommend a rest period of 60-90 seconds to allow you to recover fully. 

The better your recovery, the more weight you'll be able to lift during your sets. 

Chest Dips (you can add weight using a dip belt if it becomes too easy)

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10-15

Decline Bench Press (increase weight)

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 6-12

Cable Crossover (increase resistance)

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10-12

Dumbbell Pullover (increase weight)

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10-12

Decline Push-Ups (you can wear a weighted vest for added resistance)

  • Sets: 4* 
  • Reps: 15-20
    *on the 4th set, perform AMRAP - (As Many Reps As Possible)

Common Lower Chest Questions

How long does it take to build the lower chest muscles?

Building lower chest muscles depends on several factors such as frequency and volume of workouts, nutrition, recovery routine, and genetics.

How many exercises should I do for my lower chest?

To develop your lower chest, you should do two to three exercises for three to four sets, using 8-15 reps. 

How many times should I work out my chest a week?

You should work your chest no more than twice per week. 

How do I know if my chest is growing?

If you want to know if your chest is growing, you can measure the chest before you start training and then compare results every few weeks.

Why is my lower chest not growing?

Your lower chest isn't growing as it may need more time to get big. So while you might not notice muscle growth with the naked eye, your lower chest muscles will be growing slightly every day.

How do you warm up your chest before exercising?

Active stretching, push-ups, and a few basic chest exercises including barbell bench press using light weights should be part of your warm-up routine on chest day.

Conclusion

Persistence is the key to building lower pectoral muscles with our list of the best lower chest exercises.

Unlike some other muscles that will noticeably grow after a few weeks, lower pecs require more time and effort.

If you want your lower chest to grow, read through the list above and add some of them to your chest routine. You won't regret it. 

References: 

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34743671/
  2. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/pectoralis-minor-muscle
Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.