When most guys think ‘chest training’ they immediately think barbell press. They never really divide their chest up into upper and lower chest, but yet, if you truly want to build an impressive chest, lower chest exercises are exactly what’s needed.
While your pectoral muscles will contract altogether with just about any chest focused exercise you do, you can certainly put more emphasis on the upper or lower region, building muscle in a lagging area.
Today we’re all about lower chest exercises. I’m going to show you the best exercises to do to make that lower chest pop so you can see ultimate results. Remember that to effectively work your lower chest, you need three things:
- Mind-Muscle Connection
- Variety of angles
If we add lower chest to this equation, the fourth requirement you’ll want to add in there is that the hands need to be in a downward position, so all of these exercises are going to focus in on that movement pattern.
If any one of these requirements is lagging, consider yourself leaving results on the table. Let’s get started.
Exercise 1: Standing Pushdowns
If there is one exercise I absolutely love for the lower chest, this is it. Do not leave the gym without trying it. Stand in front of an assisted pull-up machine and place the hands on the knee pad shoulder width apart. Now simply press straight down. The upper body should hover over the hands so that the hands are just under the lower chest. This way you’ll get the right angle of activation.
I like doing a mirror rep drop set on this one to fully fatigue the muscle groups and get them feeling it. Press a heavy weight for 10 reps and then drop the weight by about 30%. Then press out another 10 reps to complete the exercise.
Do try and go heavy on this move as the exercise lends for it while maintaining the mind-muscle connection.
Exercise 2: Lying Push-Out Press
The lying push-press is an exercise you may never have seen before being performed but is one that’s great for hitting that lower chest region.
Place a flat bench between two cable pulleys and adjust the pulley’s so they are a bit lower than your waist level. They should be just above the body when lying on that flat bench.
Now get into the bench, reach up and grab the handles and begin to push them directly down towards the hips. You’ll be pressing down and together slightly as you activate the lower chest muscle.
Once in the bottom position, bend the elbows as you bring the hands up and then drive them back down. Note that your palms should stay facing down throughout this entire movement.
While the last exercise should have you going heavy, this one has you lightening the load and focusing on doing a T30 set, meaning going thirty seconds total time under tension and then resting once those 30 seconds are up.
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Exercise 3: Standing X-Press
Staying in that cable machine, move the pulleys to a high position for this lower chest exercise. Grasp them with both hands on either side and take a slight forward lean. Now drive the weight down as you extend the elbows and lower the hands towards the center of the body.
Here again, mind-muscle connection is everything. It’s easy to let your triceps and even your shoulders get involved in this movement. Don’t. You want to focus on squeezing those lower chest muscle fibers, making them do all the work.
A good trick to get more from this exercise is to actually crisscross your hands on each rep, alternating the hand over the top as you do it.
Try another T30 set here as well. You’ll really feel the pump once this one is finished so it’s great for driving blood into the lower chest.
Exercise 4: Iso High To Low Cable Fly
The Iso high to low cable fly is a similar movement as the last only this time, you’re doing just a single arm at a time. The benefit? First, you can ensure you are putting full focus on just that single side, meaning better activation and you can drive the muscle further to fatigue. Second, it’ll also bring on some core benefits as well as your abs contract harder to keep your body stabilized.
With this one, you’ll do the same overall movement pattern only this time, you’re really crossing your arm over your body. Think of tucking the elbow into the belly button as you do this exercise.
Pause at the bottom of the exercise and do a hard squeeze. That will give you ultimate muscle contraction. Do 30 seconds time under tension using a lighter weight so you can really focus on that squeeze and controlling the movement pattern. Switch sides and then repeat for two sets total.
Exercise 5: Incline Push-Ups
This may not be the most innovative exercise you’ve ever heard but if you want to hit your lower chest, it’s a good one to include. Many think that the incline push-up will hit the upper chest, but in reality, it’s actually better for hitting the lower chest.
The secret here is to go to complete failure, so this may mean a set longer than T30. Do what’s needed to get those muscles screaming. Too many guys stop short of full fatigue. They get tired and think that’s good enough but to really get maximum hypertrophy taking place, be sure that you are going to the point where you can do no more.
To get the right height for this exercise, try doing it off the side of a bench. For most guys, this will be just perfect to maximally stimulate those lower chest muscles.
The key thing to remember is that when you move to the top of the push-up position, your forearms should be pointing down from the shoulders. If you don’t achieve that angle in that top position, play around with the incline until you do.
Exercise 6: Weighted Dips
If you want activation in your lower chest, this exercise is top rated. Skip it at your own risk. Chances are you’ve done these before so you don’t need me to tell you much about them. All I can say is get them in. I like starting all my chest workouts with weighted dips as a primer for what’s to come and to ensure that I’m never skipping over them because I’m just too tired to get it done.
I recommend doing 3 sets total of 8-12 reps for weighted dips. You’ll want to go heavy enough on this exercise that you do feel the muscles working hard, but not so heavy that you begin to let the triceps start taking over. This is a common mistake that is made far too often by many guys. While you always will get some tricep activation, remember this is a chest exercise not a tricep one.
Exercise 7: Decline Barbell Bench Press
Finally, to round out your lower chest training you have the decline barbell bench press. This common exercise using the decline bench is a classic standby for most guys when it comes to training the lower chest.
As it is a barbell bench variation, you can lift heavier on this one but don’t let the weight get so heavy that it ruins your mind-muscle connection. You do still want those lower chest muscles driving the weight up with each rep so if it begins to feel more like a full body effort, that’s your sign you’ve gone too far. Back off the weight and you should feel the target muscles better.
Add these seven lower chest exercises to your workout routine, doing at least a couple per session and you will be on the way to maximizing your development. Don’t become just another ‘bench presser’ in the gym. While having a strong chest is impressive, having a truly developed chest where both the upper and lower regions are fully defined is more so.