While all chest exercise train the lower pec, there are some movements that place more emphasis on the lower pec muscle fibers. It can be important to train the lower chest specifically to address any underdevelopment issues.
The 9 best lower pec exercises are:
- Parallel Bar Dips
- Decline Barbell Bench Press
- Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
- Decline Dumbbell Flye
- Incline Push Up (Feet on Floor)
- Cable Flye (High to Low)
- Jackhammer Pushdown
- Dumbbell Pullover
- Decline Dumbbell Floor Press
Whether you have access to a decline bench, cables, or just bodyweight movements, we’ll show you how to do lower pec focused exercises and how to start training them.
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What is Considered as the Lower Pecs?
The lower pecs are the section of the chest muscles that meets the upper abdomen. Form a visual perspective, the lower pec often gains definition with dedicated lower pec training, and gives more shape to the lower pec.
Training bench press and chest exercises at any angle will hit the lower pecs, however there are some movements and variations that emphasize the lower pecs to a higher degree than flat or incline bench pressing alternatives.
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1. Parallel Bar Dip
To do a parallel bar dip, you want to first secure a dip bar on a squat rack, or find the dip stand in the gym. If you are a beginner, opt to do these on the dip bars, rather than rings so that you can focus on adding intensity and loading rather than being limited by instability of the rings.
Place the hands on the bars, and fully extend your elbows so that you are holding yourself off the ground.
Slightly lean the chest forward, and bend at the elbows, and lower yourself downwards until your triceps are about parallel to the floor. You could go deeper into the dip, just make sure you keep your shoulders back and feel the stretch on the lower pecs only.
After a brief pause at the bottom of the dip, push through the bars and extend the elbows at the top, making sure to keep your torso slightly leaned forward.
- The dips are a great way to add muscle mass and strength to the triceps and lower pecs. They can be done with bodyweight, or added weight belts.
- The dip trains the pec fibers at a different angle than most other chest pressing exercises, making it a great addition to most bench pressing routines.
- The dip can be challenging on the shoulders for some individuals, and can create shoulder discomfort. If this is happening to you, first make sure your form is correct. You can also play with how low you are doing dips.
- Some lifters may not be strong enough to perform dips in high enough volumes (with good form). If this is the case, use dips as a strength movement, and use other variations for higher rep training.
Allow yourself to lean slightly forward during the dip, while keeping your hips back. This will take pressure off the shoulders.
2. Decline Barbell Bench Press
Find a decline barbell bench press station, and lie down on the bench, making sure to secure your legs so that you don’t slide down the decline bench.
Unrack the barbell as you would a flat or incline barbell bench press, and lower the bar to the middle of the chest or sternum.
Go slow on the way down, as this increases the range of motion of the movement and can place a little more pressure and stress on the shoulder in some individuals.
Press the barbell up to the start position, and repeat for reps.
- This is a great exercise to develop the lower pecs, as the angle and increased range of motion places a huge stretch on the lower pec muscle fibers
- Most people can lift more weight in the decline bench press, which may be helpful to stimulate more muscle growth and help push through training plateaus with other bench press variants.
- The decline bench can produce some shoulder stress and discomfort for some individuals as the range of motion is greater. Be sure to train the eccentric slowly and to not bounce the weight of the body.
- It can be difficult for some people to get in and out of the decline bench press, so just be sure to take your time getting up, as you may get lightheaded if you are doing strenuous pressing with the head lowered.
Train this first in the session, as you will be able to move heavy loads and stimulate tons of muscle mass. Just be sure to be warmed up first since the range of motion and loading can be more demanding than flat or incline bench press variations.
3. Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
Set a decline bench up and grab a pair of dumbbells. While seated, secure your feet under the foot holds, and set a pair of dumbbells on the top of the thighs.
As you lay back, bring the dumbbells with you and rack them by the chest.
Press the weights upwards, and start your work set.
When doing these, make sure to bring them down to the chest, or slightly lower, getting a big stretch on the lower pec. Your hands should be in line with the lower pec or sternum, not the shoulder joint.
- The dumbbell decline bench press can address unilateral muscle weaknesses and increase single sides pressing strength and hypertrophy
- The dumbbells allow you to get an even deeper stretch on the lower pec than the barbell, which could be a great addition to an already great lower pec movement.
- The dumbbells allow for a little more customization of the angles your shoulders are put in as the lifter can adjust the weights as needed, unlike the barbell. This could be helpful for those who have shoulder discomfort when doing decline barbell bench press
- The dumbbells can be challenging to get set up properly by yourself, as you need to first secure yourself on a decline bench, then lay backwards with often heavy loads. If you do not have a spotter and are not experienced with heavy dumbbell press, you may find it challenging to get set up properly.
Training this with moderate to light weights, heavy dumbbell pressing on a decline bench can be challenging to get set up on. This is a perfect compliment to a heavy bench press variation.
4. Decline Dumbbell Flye
Get set up similar to the decline dumbbell bench press, just grab a lighter pair of dumbbells.
When you lie back with the weights, push them up above your chest, with the palms facing each other. You can have a slight bend in the elbows as well.
Perform a decline dumbbell flye by pulling the arms outwards, taking the weights wider, rather than deeper toward the ground. The wider the flye, the bigger the stretch on the lower pec.
Your sternum should be up, and your shoulder blades should be retracted.
As you get to the bottom of the flye, pause, then reach your hands back upwards, in a wide arcing motion.
- This is a great way to isolate the lower pecs and take the shoulders and tricep out of the pressing movement.
- You do not need to use a ton of weight with this exercise, as it is a single joint movement and also covers a huge range of motion.
- This can be a challenging exercise for some lifters, as it requires good flye technique and a highly focused approach to chest isolation.
- The decline flye has a huge range of motion, nad can be uncomfortable on the shoulders of some lifters.
Don’t touch the dumbbells together at the top of the flye, but rather keep them 3-6 inches apart. This will keep the chest muscles in constant tension. Conversely, if you choose to take the hands together at the top of the flye, actively press the dumbbells together to get a strong and maximal contraction at the top of the fly.
5. Incline Push Up (Feet on Floor)
To do the incline push up, place your hands on an elevated surface, with the feet together on the floor. The hands can be done something that is 3-12 inches off the ground. Any higher than that and the movement will be less challenging, and will slowly turn into the same angles as a dip.
Lower the sternum to the box, bench, or step, and make sure that your lower chest is the aiming point, not the upper chest. The elbows can be slightly flared out.
You should feel a stretch on the lower chest.
Push yourself upwards, keeping your body over the box, bench, or step, and repeat for reps.
- A great way to train the lower chest and upper body as a whole, for any level.
- This can be regressed and progressed by changing the incline of the push up
- This exercise doesn’t offer a ton of loading potential, so for stronger lifters it may need to be done in high volumes, or paired with heavy pressing like bench press or dips.
This is a great way to train the lower chest to complete failure. Try performing these on a staircase, starting at the lower step to failure. Then, move the hands up another step and go to failure, and repeat until you cannot do any more.
6. Cable Flye (High to Low)
Set the cable pulleys at the higher point. Grab the handles, and walk out a few steps to lift the weight stack.
Hold the hands up at head height, with the elbow slightly pointed upwards, as if you were going in for a huge bear hug.
Perform a cable flye on a downward angle, making sure not to collapse your chest or shoulders forwards as your hands come down to roughly stomach or waist level.
Get a good muscle contraction at the bottom, then reach your hands open and upwards slowly to keep tension of the lower pec, and repeat for reps.
- The cable flye can be done to isolate the lower pec muscle fibers (as well as the chest). It keeps constant tension on the muscle, unlike the dumbbell, potentially making it a superior choice.
- The cable flye can be challenging for some lifters who struggle to keep their body upright and not let their shoulders get involved too much. Nonetheless, this is a standard con for any flye movement, so with the right coaching most lifters should not have any issues.
You can vary the height of the flye to the individual. Generally speaking, set the cable height to head level to start.
7. Jackhammer Pushdown
To perform this exercise, you will set yourself up like a tricep pushdown, with a straight bar attachment.
With the bar touching your sternum, allow the elbows to flare outwards, and slightly lean forward.
You will essentially perform a really bad tricep pushdown, meaning that you will involve your chest as well. This should kinda feel like a downward push, with your entire upper body (well, your chest and triceps).
Pause at the bottom of the pushdown, and then bring the bar back to the sternum level, making sure to stay leaned forward while keeping the shoulders back.
- This is a good way to isolate the lower pecs. You can perform a deep stretch and full contraction, making it a great alternative to a flye.
- This shouldn’t be done with super heavy loads, but rather with control and moderate loading. Save the heavy loads for compound pressing.
Perform this with moderate to lighter loads, and focus on full ranges of motion and aggressive muscle contractions at the bottom.
8. Dumbbell Pullover
To perform the dumbbell pullover, lie on your back on a bench. Your head and shoulders should be towards the very top of the bench.
Hold one dumbbell with both hands over the chest, with the elbows slightly bent.
Extend the arms back, reaching the weight behind the head, keeping the elbows slightly bent. You should feel the stretch on the lats, as well as the lower pecs.
When you get to a point where you cannot stretch the lats and lower pecs any further, pull the weight back upwards in an arcing motion, back to the starting position.
- The dumbbell pullover can target the lower pec as well as the serratus, which can help give the lower pecs more definition.
- The pullover can also help improve lat strength and have some carry over to improving bench press technique
- This can be challenging for some lifters to do correctly, and can sometimes result in shoulder pain. If this is the case, play around with the depth to which you lower the weight, and make sure you are keeping your shoulders back.
You don’t need to train this heavy. Think about increasing the range of motion, and getting a huge stretch on the lats, serratus, and lower pecs.
9. Decline Dumbbell Floor Press
The decline dumbbell floor press is essentially a floor press with the hips raised. This is done by sitting on the floor, and placing a pair of dumbbells, one in each hand, on the thighs.
Lay back, and bring the dumbbells with you and push them upwards, extending them above your body. With the arms straight, perform a hip raise to create a slight “decline bench press” angle.
Perform floor presses with the hips up, lowering under control as you would any normal press.
- This is a decline bench press variation that you can do without a bench. By performing the floor press with the hips up, you slightly increase the range of motion.
- This requires hip strength and awareness to make sure you are using you hips to hold the decline position, rather than the lower back. Less skulled lifters may find this challenging, and may also be more susceptible to lower back injury if they are not first taught how to properly perform a glute bridge.
This can be a great exercise to train with heavier or moderate loads, so don’t be afraid to go heavy!
If you want to focus more on your upper chest, try these 6 upper chest exercises.
2 Sample Lower Pec Workouts
Here are two sample lower pec workouts you can do to develop the lower chest.
The first workout is done with barbells, cables, and dumbbells.
The second workout includes only bodyweight exercises, and can be done anywhere and without any equipment.
Lower Pec Workout #1
- Decline Barbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps, with a 3 sec lowering phase and 1 second pause on the chest
- Cable Flye (High to Low): 4 sets of 12-15 reps, supersetted with dips (below)
- Seated Overhead Triceps Extension: 4 sets of 8-12 reps, supersetted with cable flyers (above)
- Jackhammer Pushdown: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Lower Pec Workout #2 2 (Bodyweight Only)
- Dips: 5 sets of 8-12 reps. If you do not have access to a dip bar, you can do this on any stable surface, preferably a corner (such as the corner of the kitchen counter)
- Incline Push Up: 5 sets to failure (hands on lowest step of stairs). Once you reach failure, more your hands up one or two steps, and perform another set to failure (drop set)
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About The Author
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.