The first exercise that you’ll hear most people recommend for your lower chest is the decline bench press.
But even though this is a great exercise to mix into your workouts to focus specifically on those lower fibers, there’s a better alternative.
On the decline press, you will most likely have a shorter range of motion. You’ll also take tension away from the upper portion of your chest and you’ll shift some of that tension over to your triceps and your lats.
Plus, you now know that the middle and lower part of your chest is actually part of the same muscle head.
Therefore, it may come as no surprise that one of the best exercises to target the lower chest is the flat bench press.
The flat bench press is such a great exercise that some studies even show that it’s all you need to build a bigger chest.
And simply working on increasing the weight that you lift on the bench press over time is enough to build up your entire chest, including the lower chest.
To set up the flat bench press, lay down on a bench with your eyes directly under the bar.
Before beginning, you’ll want to retract your shoulder blades and pack them tight together.
You can grab the barbell at a closer or wider grip but a good place to start is about thumbs distance from where the knurling starts.
From there, lift the barbell, bring it over your chest and lower down aiming for your nipple line. Meanwhile, keep your elbows somewhere between a 45-75 degree angle from your body.
Make sure not to flare the elbows too far out. Also, make sure your feet are planted into the ground and that you’re driving through your legs as you press. This will allow you to lift more weight.
Another thing you’ll want to do is to maintain an arch in your back. Just make sure that your hips don’t rise up off the bench as this can lead to a lower back injury.
After lowering the barbell, press back up and repeat for reps.
I recommend saving the decline bench press as a secondary exercise for later in your workout. With this one, you would follow very similar cues.
Your feet, however, would be off the floor and you would now also be aiming a little lower under your nipple line when bringing the barbell down.
This is an isolation movement. Normally I prefer using dumbbells and barbells over machines. But by using the pec deck fly you’re able to really isolate your chest uniquely.
Unlike regular flies with dumbbells, your biceps and forearms won’t be involved as much in the movement. That’s because your arms will be bent and you’ll be able to apply pressure directly through your elbows.
This may be why a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise showed that chest activation on the pec deck fly machine was very close to the flat bench press itself.
Adjust the seat to the right height so that your upper arms are about parallel with the floor when you grab the handles.
Sit straight up, with your shoulder blades pulled back together. Arch your back to target more of those lower chest muscle fibers.
Bring both arms inward toward the center of your body. Then bring them back out until you feel a nice stretch in your chest.
From there you would just repeat for reps.
Another excellent compound exercise that’ll help you target your lower chest is the dip. You want to do these on parallel bars.
Start by hopping up and locking your elbows out.
Lower yourself down while purposely leaning forward to help target the chest better. You can lower down until your upper arm is parallel with the ground or a little lower than parallel.
Don’t go too low as this can be dangerous for your shoulders.
From there, just press back up while imagining that you’re squeezing the parallel bars together for maximum chest activation. Then repeat for reps.
By getting stronger at this exercise and strapping more weight to yourself over time you’ll improve your triceps and bench press strength.
You’ll also accelerate your progress towards the development of nicer lower pecs.
#5 Bent forward high cable crossover
For this cable exercise, start by attaching the d-handle and setting both pulleys up high, above your shoulders.
Take a step forward with both handles in your hands. Either have both feet shoulder-width apart side by side, or one foot in front of the other for balance.
Lean slightly forward, then bring both cables down and together towards the midline of your body while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
The cables should meet under your chest. You can go back to the starting position after they meet, or you can alternate-cross one cable over the other on each rep for an even more intense contraction.
Then repeat for reps.
Don’t go back further than about even with your chest on each rep to keep your shoulders healthy.
#6 Decline cable chest press
This is another great exercise you can do with the cables to hit the lower part of your chest.
When performing chest presses with cables, you’ll feel a different type of tension on your chest than when using dumbbells/barbells.
This is because the angle of the resistance is a little wider so it’ll feel almost as if you’re doing a fly combined with a press.
Even when you straighten out your arms and lift the cables all the way up, you’ll still feel your chest working just to hold those cables close together.
Position the pulleys low on the cable cross and remember the cues for the bench press.
This includes packing your shoulder blades tight together and aiming to bring the cables slightly under your nipple line during each rep.
Press the cables up and together over the line of the lower part of your sternum, where your upper abs begin.
You can also squeeze at the top of every rep to get a better contraction for your chest.
Now let’s move on to two great exercises that you can do with dumbbells starting with regular dumbbell presses.
These can be done at a flat or decline angle to target the lower chest. However, with the decline angle, you will most likely need a partner to help you get the dumbbells up onto your lap.
Also, you may not be able to lift as much weight as you can with the flat dumbbell press. That’s because you won’t be able to drive with your feet.
With the flat dumbbell press, you can start by lifting both dumbbells over your knees. Sit down, and then lay back while bringing the dumbbells up over your chest.
Again, keep your shoulder blades back together against the bench. Maintain an arch in your back and keep your hips from rising off the bench.
Also, keep that 45-75 degree angle for your elbows as you lower and press the weight over your nipple line.
The second great dumbbell exercise is, of course, the dumbbell fly. We’re going to perform this one on a decline angle.
Many people avoid dumbbell flies because they’re afraid of injuring their shoulders.
But if dumbbell flies don’t bother your shoulders, it really shouldn’t be a problem as long as you’re not lowering the dumbbells too far down.
Again, when you lower the dumbbells you don’t want to lower them any further down than about parallel with your chest before returning back up.
If you really want to be safe, another alternative is to perform them on the floor. Here the floor will act almost as a spotter preventing your elbows from coming down too low.
Whether you do these on a decline or on the floor, just like with the cable cross, keep a slight bend in your elbows when you lower the dumbbells down and outward to your sides.
Do not lock your elbows out as this will take pressure off your chest and put a lot of unwanted tension on the elbow joint.
#9 Incline push-up (TRX or burnouts)
With regular incline push-ups, it’s going to be hard for a lot of you to get enough of a challenge with your bodyweight alone.
And it’s pretty hard to add weight to this exercise unless you have a weighted vest.
So, my recommendation is to either perform it on a TRX suspension trainer, to make it more challenging, or save this one for burnouts at the very end of your workout.
You can also superset it by performing another weighted chest exercise immediately beforehand then, without a break, go for as many reps as possible before hitting failure.
The setup for this one is pretty straightforward.
Get into a push-up position with your upper body elevated higher than your lower body. To do that you can place your hands on a bench or a platform.
If you’re using a TRX, just lower the straps to about knee level or a little lower before beginning.
Make sure to keep your tailbone, your heels, and the back of your head in a relatively straight line. Don’t allow your hips to drop down and don’t raise them into a downward dog position.
Simply lower yourself down without flaring your elbows out.
Then press back up and repeat for reps.
So those are the 9 exercises you can use to help develop your lower chest outline.
To set this up as a workout I recommend starting with either flat bench or flat dumbbell press, since you’ll be fresh and it’s so important to get stronger at those two exercises to build up your chest.
Then you can move on to some of the other exercises we went over. Here’s an example.
You can select four or five of these other exercises, and save the rest for your second chest workout during the week.
Performing two weekly chest workouts instead of one is another thing that I recommend, because it’s been shown in studies to help accelerate progress.
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