Inner Chest Workout: Build Your Chest with These 11 Exercises

inner chest workout

If you want a more defined and chiseled chest, then you’ll need to know which exercises target your inner chest muscles, how to perform them properly, and how to incorporate them into your training plan to encourage muscle growth.

The 11 best inner chest exercises you can do to build a more muscular and defined chest:

  • Deficit Push Up
  • Dip
  • Machine Assisted Dip
  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Decline Barbell Bench Press
  • Smith Machine Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Squeeze Press
  • Cable Crossover Fly
  • Dumbbell Fly
  • Svend Press

I’ll explain how to do these exercises properly and how to combine them to create a workout program that helps you build a bigger chest with inner chest definition.

If you want to build your chest muscles, let Fitbod help. On average, a new Fitbod user who trains three times a week for about 45 minutes will see a 34% strength increase after three months. Try Fitbod for free.

What Is Your Inner Chest?

what is your inner chest

The inner chest is the area between the left and right sides of the pec muscles, where the chest muscles come together and attach to the sternum. The space between the large chest muscles is referred to as the “inner chest.”

The muscles that make up the inner chest are the chest muscles themselves; however, to target the inner chest, you need to understand which pec muscles contribute to the visual separation of the chest, as well as how to better carve out the inner chest.

Below are two of the main muscles of the chest that you need to pay attention to when training your inner chest.

Pec Major

The pec major is the largest of the two muscles of the chest and overlays across the entire chest. This muscle has various angles at which it can be trained, which is why most programs include pressing from an incline, flat, and decline angle.

When addressing the inner chest, you want to prioritize pressing from a flat and decline angle.

Pec Minor

The pec minor lies underneath the pec major and assists the pec major in pressing movements. You do not need to do anything special to target the pec minor (as it is trained during all presses). 

Exercises like decline presses and dips work the pec minor already, and since we are already going to be doing those in an inner chest program, there is no need to add more pec minor training.

Need a workout program? Try Fitbod for Free.

Benefits Of Training Your Inner Chest

Training your chest increases your overall pressing performance, improves triceps strength, and increases general upper body strength. However, the benefits listed below are specific to training the inner chest.

Bigger Chest

Most lifters who lack inner chest development also lack overall chest development, so by adding in more inner chest-focused exercises, you will also increase the total amount of work your chest does every week, which will help build more muscle.

Better Definition Between Pecs

Lacking definition between the pecs is often an issue of lack of muscle growth. However, some lifters have good chest development yet lack good separation between the chest muscles. 

By training the inner chest with the workouts, exercises, and tips below, you will get better definition of the inner chest and start to create a better shape around the lower chest (where your pecs meet your torso).

11 Inner Chest Exercises

Below is a list of 11 of the best exercises you can do to build your inner chest.

Note: Most of these exercises can be found within the Fitbod app. You don’t need to incorporate all 11 into your training program. Pick 3-5  exercises and rotate them through your program over the long term (swap them out every 8-12  weeks). If using Fitbod, you can select the muscle groups you want to work on (i.e., chest), and the program will build itself accordingly. 

1. Deficit Push Up

The deficit push-up trains the chest in a larger range of motion than the regular push-up, helping to carve out the inner chest and lower pecs. 

Before you do this, make sure that you can pull your shoulder blades together (retract) without letting the shoulders round forward as you go deeper into the push-up. Ideally, you would be able to do deficit push-ups with your hands 2-3” above the floor (on blocks or plates).

How To Do It

  • Place two small blocks or plates (2-3” thick) shoulder width apart, and then place your hands on them.
  • Position your shoulders so that they are stacked directly above your wrists, with your arms fully extended.
  • Your feet should be together, and your legs straight, with your core braced (do this by pulling the belly button into the body and flattening the lower back).
  • Lower yourself down to the floor, bending at the elbows and stretching the chest.
  • Touch your chest to the floor, then push yourself back up.

Pro Tip

Try keeping your hands shoulder-width apart because the wider you have your hands, the less emphasis you will place on the inner chest.

2. Dip

Dips help develop the lower pec muscle and contribute to inner chest development. You can train the inner chest more effectively with dips when you are in an upright position rather than leaning forward.

If you are leaning forward in the dip, you are shifting more emphasis to your triceps, whereas staying more upright and dipping downwards places more emphasis on the lower and inner chest.

How To Do It

  • Place your hands on the ends of a dip bar, ensuring that they are shoulder-width apart.
  • With your arms straight and supporting your body at the top of the dip, squeeze your legs together and bend the knees.
  • Initiate the dip by bending your elbows and lowering yourself as deep as you can go without letting the shoulders hunch forward.
  • Feel a big stretch in the bottom of the chest, and then push yourself back up to straight arms and repeat.

Pro Tip

If you are having any shoulder discomfort, try thinking about keeping your elbows slightly away from your body (30 degrees from the body). If your elbows are tucked too aggressively into your sides, it can cause discomfort.

3. Machine Assisted Dip

Machine-assisted dips are the machine version of the dip, which are an easier form of dips because you can offset your weight so that you don’t have to lift your entire bodyweight. This exercise is perfect for those who can’t do bodyweight dips without compromising their technique.

I like to use machines when I am doing higher rep dips, especially later in my workout when my chest and shoulders are already tired.

How To Do It

  • Place your hands on the ends of machine-assisted dip handles.
  • Bend your feet or knees and place them on the pad below you. The more weight you have on the weight stack, the easier the dip will be.
  • Lower yourself downwards by bending the elbows and slightly leaning your torso forward 30 degrees.
  • Pause for 1-2 seconds at the bottom of the movement (try to get your thumbs to touch the front of your shoulders)
  • Feel a big stretch in the bottom of the chest, and then push yourself upwards and repeat.

Pro Tip

I like having lifters place a small yoga block between their bent knees to help them maintain tension in the core (to not have their body moving around). With the block between the thighs or knees, push inwards with your legs, and you will feel the inner thighs and core muscles contract.

4. Barbell Flat Bench Press

The barbell flat bench press is an iconic chest-building movement. All good inner chest workout programs still need to include a movement that develops the entire chest to help you grow larger muscles.

If you do not have enough chest development, then all your inner chest work may not pay off as much as you’re hoping. For this reason, it’s important to include mass-building chest exercises like the bench press along with exercises that isolate your inner chest.

How To Do It

  • Lie down on a flat bench, with a barbell resting in the squat rack. The barbell should be above your eyes.
  • With a slightly wider-than-shoulder grip (2-3 inches outside the shoulders), grab the barbell and wrap your thumbs around it to make a fist.
  • With your back flat against the bench (slight to minimal arch in the lower back), unrack the barbell so that it is above your shoulders as your arms are extended.
  • Bend the elbows and lower the bar to the bottom of your chest (not your abs, but the bottom of the chest). Your elbows should be 45-70 degrees flared out from your body (not tucked into the body, and not totally flared out).
  • Do not bounce the weight off your body, but rather settle the weight on the chest, then press up and back to the original starting position.

Pro Tip

The more you arch your lower back, the shorter the distance the barbell has to travel. Seeing that we want to target the chest and inner chest, we want to try to increase the range of motion as much as we can. To do this, make sure you are not arching your back like you would in a powerlifting-style bench press.

5. Barbell Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press is used to target the lower pecs and is done by performing a bench press with the chest lower than the feet using a decline bench.

By changing the angle to a decline, you shift more emphasis to the lower pecs. When the lower pecs are well-developed, they help the inner chest look more defined.

How To Do It

  • Lie down on a decline bench with your feet secured under the foot pad.
  • With a slightly wider-than-shoulder grip (2-3 inches outside the shoulders), grab the barbell and wrap your thumbs around it to make a fist.
  • With your back flat against the bench (try to minimize your back arch), unrack the barbell so that it is above your shoulders as your arms are extended.
  • Bend the elbows and lower the bar to the bottom of your chest, with your elbows flared outwards 45-70 degrees flared from your body.
  • Touch the chest softly, then press upwards.

Pro Tip

The decline bench allows you to train heavier than you normally would with a flat bench, which can be both good and bad for growth. Be smart and control the weight, as a lack of muscle control minimizes the potential for growth and could lead to injury.

6. Smith Machine Bench Press

The Smith machine bench press is a machine version of the barbell bench press that offers you a great way to isolate the chest muscle with heavier loads while minimizing the body’s ability to shift that stress to other muscle groups (shoulders and triceps).

Unlike the barbell bench press, the Smith machine ensures that the bar path of the movement is exactly what is needed to keep the tension on the chest and does not allow you to change your technique when you start to struggle to shift to other muscle groups.

This is a great exercise for beginners learning how to bench, as well as more advanced lifters who want to isolate the chest.

How To Do It

  • Place a bench in the smith machine so that the bar is directly over your chest when you’re lying down on your back.
  • With your back flat on the bench, grab the bar with a slightly wider shoulder width (2-3” outside the shoulders). 
  • Lift the bar up off the hooks to allow the bar to move freely.
  • Pull the bar down towards your chest, and then press upwards and repeat.

Pro Tip

You will need to do a few practice reps to make sure that your bench is set up correctly so that when you lower the bar, the bar touches the base of your chest (sternum). 

7. Dumbbell Bench Press

The dumbbell bench press enables you to train the chest in a larger range of motion than the barbell or Smith machine bench presses, as you can lower the weights a few more inches past the body, resulting in more stretch and tension in the inner chest.

When using dumbbells, you can also rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing each other as you press upward. This may help you feel more tension in your inner chest, depending on what feels comfortable for your wrists and shoulders. 

How To Do It

  • Lie down with your chest on a flat bench, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
  • With the dumbbells extended above your shoulders and your elbows fully extended, lower the weight to the sides of your chest.
  • Allow the elbows to bend as you keep the wrists above the elbows (from the aerial view).
  • Lower the weight as low as you can without shoulder discomfort or having the shoulders round upwards off the bench, then press the dumbbells up and back and repeat.

Pro Tip

Lowering the dumbbells as low as you can, without compromising your shoulder position, can help you place more tension and stretch on the chest and improve growth. 

If the dumbbells are ending up on top of your chest as you bring them down, then you’ll need to change your wrist or elbow position to allow them to travel beside your body.

8. Dumbbell Squeeze Press

The dumbbell squeeze press is similar to the dumbbell bench press, however, you will squeeze the weights together throughout the full movement. By pressing the weights as you squeeze them together (inwards towards one another), you can place more emphasis on the inner chest muscles.

This can be a tricky exercise, so it’s best executed with lighter weights and higher reps to “burn the inner chest out” rather than as a strength movement.

How To Do It

  • Lie on your back with dumbbells in each hand.
  • With the dumbbells resting together on your chest, press the dumbbells together by applying inwards pressure on them, and then extend your arms upwards to press the dumbbells above your chest/shoulders.
  • Focus on squeezing the dumbbells together at all times.
  • Lower the weights slowly to the chest, pressing the dumbbells together, and repeat.

Pro Tip

You could make this exercise potentially better by allowing the dumbbells to pull apart as you approach the chest, which allows you to lower the weights past your chest rather than stop on it. 

This can increase the range of motion and help you get a bigger stretch on the chest at the bottom. As you clear the chest on the way up, press the dumbbells together again and continue the squeeze press as described above.

9. Cable Crossover Fly

The cable crossover fly targets the entire chest but also emphasizes the inner chest at both ends of the movement. When your hands are wide, the inner chest muscles are being stretched (along with the entire chest), which is key for inner chest development. This is why a full range of motion in any chest fly variation is beneficial.

Unlike other fly actions, the cable crossover fly allows you to cross your arms over one another as you finish the movement, adding an additional 2-3” of movement that provides a better muscle contraction, especially for the inner chest muscles.

How To Do It

  • Place the cable pulleys just above head height
  • Grab the handles, and take a staggered stance with your arms extended laterally (out to the sides) at shoulder height with your palm facing forward.
  • Align yourself between the pulleys, and then breathe into your core to add stability so that you can keep your torso and spine in a neutral position.
  • With the arms extended, create a wide arcing motion with your arms to perform the fly, and bring the handles together at the bottom of the movement in line with your ribcage.
  • Cross one hand on top of the other to get a few more inches of movement to better contract the inner chest. Just be sure to alternate which hand goes over the other every rep.

Pro Tip

When doing the fly, you should have a slight lean forward with your torso to better engage your chest muscles and to maintain balance, but be careful not to lean too forward, as many lifters do this to make the movement easier.

Related Article: 16 Best Cable Chest Exercises (With Sample Workout)

10. Dumbell Fly

The dumbbell fly allows you to train the chest muscles in a wide range of motion in a very isolated manner. Unlike presses, the fly removes the triceps and shoulders from the exercise to help you place all the tension and stress on the chest.

Some lifters struggle to feel their chest working when performing dumbbell flys, so I recommend starting with a lighter weight and thinking about reaching your hands out wide with minimal elbow bend as if you’re stretching your chest in a doorway. This will help ensure you keep your shoulders out of the movement.

How To Do It

  • Lie down on a bench with dumbbells in your hands above your shoulders and the elbows fully extended.
  • With the palms facing one another, pull the weights outwards with slightly bent elbows in an arcing motion. 
  • The wider your arms go, the more tension you will place on your chest.
  • Lower the weights down so that they are in line with your torso, or maybe lower, depending on how well you can keep your shoulders from lifting off the bench.
  • Use your chest to lift the weights back up in the same arcing motion until they are 6-8” apart at the top, then repeat.

Pro Tip

I find that bringing the weights together at the top can help some lifters get a good contraction (similar to a squeeze press), whereas other lifters may get shoulder pain and loss of tension in the chest. Play around with what feels best. Just make sure that you are not losing tension at the top.

11. Svend Press

The Svend press is an isolation exercise for the pecs, specifically the inner chest. When performing the Svend press, you want to focus on developing as much tension as you can by squeezing the plates together. 

The weight of the plates is not very important, as you are generating a lot of tension simply by pushing your hands together as you press the plates inwards. If the plates are too heavy, you will feel it more in the shoulders than the chest.

How To Do It

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding two light barbell-style plates.
  • With the weights between your palms, press them together and position them in the middle of your chest.
  • Continue to press the plates together as you extend your arms out in front of you at chest height.
  • Remain in an upright position as you extend your arms away from you, as well as when you pull the plates back to your chest.

Pro Tip

This exercise is not one that you should be trying to use heavier and heavier weights on, but rather one that you are using the weights to just give you something to squeeze together. You can do this with a yoga block as well. The emphasis should be on you creating tension and flexing your chest, not lifting heavy weights.

7 Considerations For Building Your Inner Chest

Now that you know what exercises to include, we can dive into the factors you need to consider to design a workout that builds your inner chest and allows you to progress your training every week.

If you want to eliminate all the guesswork from your training, then let the Fitbod app help you. With the Fitbod app, you can easily design a workout program custom to your goals and gym setup. The Fitbod app will then progress your workouts every week based on your weekly performance to ensure you are progressing towards your goals.

Exercise Selection

When training the inner chest, you will want to choose exercises that allow you to train in various ranges of motion, such as flies and dumbbell presses, where you can place a loaded stretch on the chest (from the sternum to the shoulder). 

You should also include lower pec exercises like dips and decline presses to target the lower chest muscle fibers, which will be the first ones to help develop the inner chest.

Typically, you will train one heavy chest press exercise (like a barbell bench press or Smith machine press), one lower chest exercise (dip, decline press), and one chest isolation exercise (fly). 


You will want to train the chest twice per week, with each workout delivering 9-15 total work sets per day, spread out across three chest exercises. 

As mentioned, this will typically include a heavy chest press exercise, a lower chest exercise, and one chest isolation exercise. 

Each exercise should be performed for 3-5 total sets.


You will want to train the chest with both moderate (8-15) and high (12-20) rep ranges. 

When doing barbell and machine presses, you can train in the 8-15 rep range to push heavier loads and overload the muscle fibers. 

With isolation exercises, like flies, aim for a 12-20 rep range to increase the overall amount of work the chest has to do but also keep the muscle under tension longer to drive more muscle growth.


When training the chest, you want to use as much weight as you can while still staying within the rep range you are training. 

Training too lightly will mean you will need to do a lot of reps, which can cause you to build more endurance rather than strength or mass.

Training too heavy will mean the chest gets stronger, but may not get enough volume to produce significant muscle growth. It could also increase the risk of injury.

Let the rep scheme guide your load selection. 

If you’re able to do more reps than planned with a particular weight, choose a heavier weight; if you’re doing fewer reps than planned with a particular weight, choose a lighter weight.

Exercise Order

Always start your workouts with the exercises that require the heaviest loads; this will ensure that you train the chest at higher intensities when it’s fresh, and save lighter exercises for when you’re more fatigued.

Doing lighter-load exercises first can limit your ability to use heavier loads to overload the chest and potentially reduce muscle growth.

Some lifters do train higher rep exercises before moderate ones to improve their mind-muscle connection; however, this is best reserved for more advanced lifters. 

Training Frequency

Train the inner chest twice per week, as this will provide your chest with new training stress every 3-4 days, depending on your workout split. You will want to make sure you allow your chest two days of recovery between workouts to repair and grow.

Some lifters may be able to train chests every 2-3 days and get a third workout in at the end of the week. However, this will depend on how hard you train and how sore you are.

If you are training hard and are not getting sore or are not seeing growth, you could try training your chest three days a week for 6-8 weeks and see if you have more muscle growth by increasing your training frequency.

Grip/Hand Positioning

For some movements, you may want to try turning your palms towards one another as you do them, as this may help you train the inner chest more. 

This can be helpful when doing dumbbell presses, dumbbell flyes, and cable flies. Try this out on some of the isolation exercises or higher rep movements and see how it feels.

Sample Inner Chest Workouts

sample inner chest workouts

Below are two sample workouts you can do to develop the inner chest. You can do one of these workouts twice per week, or you can do them both, once per week. 

Note: Although this exact workout cannot be found in the Fitbod app, all the movements below can. You should use this sample routine as an outline to construct your workouts based on the above information.

Inner Chest Workout 1

The first workout is geared toward building a bigger, stronger chest while also targeting the inner chest. The rep ranges are low-to-moderate to allow you to focus on building some strength as well as muscle mass. 

  • Barbell Decline Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps, resting 2 minutes between sets
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 10-12 reps, resting 90 seconds between sets
  • Cable Crossover Fly: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, superset with dips
    • Dip (assisted or regular): 4 sets of 10-12 reps, resting 90 seconds between sets

Inner Chest Workout 2

The second workout is made to build muscle but also help improve definition. The rep ranges are moderate-to-high to drive muscle fatigue to the inner chest.

  • Smith Machine Decline Bench Press: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, resting 90 seconds between sets
  • Machine Assisted Dip: 4 sets of 15-20 reps, resting 90 seconds between sets
  • Dumbbell Flye: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, superset with squeeze press
    • Dumbbell Squeeze Press: 4 sets to muscle failure with the same weight as fly, resting 90 seconds between sets

Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try Fitbod for free.


10 TIPS to Build
Muscle Fast


By providing your email address, you agree to receive marketing messaging from Fitbod. Opt out at any time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Inner Chest Not Growing?

Lack of targeted training may be one reason your inner chest is not growing, especially if you are not training the lower pec regularly with dips, decline presses, or push-ups. Using too small of a range of motion when using dumbbells, cables, or machine chest exercises can also limit inner chest growth.

How Do You Workout Your Inner Chest?

The inner pecs can be trained by targeting the lower pecs as well as the entire chest. You need to first train the chest in a fuller range of motion, which may mean going lower than you are with your current exercises. You will then want to add dips, flies, and decline presses in the full range of motion.

About The Author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.