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June 13, 2022 8 min read
If you want to build big and well-proportioned pecs, that can put out some serious power, then you need to put some emphasis on the lower chest (the area of the muscle that sweeps from under the armpit to underneath the nipple).
If you neglect the lower chest (really any part of the chest), you won’t have that large, strong, and full look that bodybuilders and powerlifters have made famous.
Your upper body strength can also suffer because of this.
To focus on the lower chest area, the decline barbell bench press is a necessity because its angle of decline targets the lower chest fibers and trains them adequately promoting both strength and hypertrophy gains.
What happens though if your gym doesn’t have the conventional decline barbell bench press setup? Or maybe you’re looking to try something new and add to your repertoire of exercises to pick from?
What’s so great about the fitness industry is that there are plenty of people out there creating and perfecting exercises that achieve similar results like you would get from traditional decline bench press equipment.
So even if you were to incorporate just one or two of them in your training program, that will take your lower chest development to the next level and build muscle.
Unfortunately, you can’t isolate what part of the chest you’re working on. The reasoning is that every chest exercise will hit every part of the chest.
People tend to confuse the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor as being the upper and lower chest. When in fact the pectoralis major is the big fan-shaped muscle that makes up the majority of your chest musculature.
So when we talk about the upper chest and lower chest, we’re talking about the upper and lower part of the pectoralis major.
The pectoralis minor on the other hand is just a small muscle that lies underneath the pectoralis major.
This means that an incline bench press exercise will still hit your lower chest, and decline exercises still hit your upper chest. Technically even if you only did one type of pressing exercise for the rest of your life, you can still build your entire chest.
Various decline pressing, push-ups, fly exercises, and dips do target the lower portion of the chest a bit more than incline movements do.
While various incline pressing/fly exercises target the upper portion a bit more than decline movements do.
Flat exercises fall somewhere in the middle and hit a good bit of everything, but do tend to put more strain on your shoulders.
The decline bench press primarily targets the lower part of the pectoralis major muscles.
To a lesser extent, it also works the upper pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and triceps.
The biceps muscles on the front of your upper arms work as stabilizers during the movement.
If this is your first-time decline bench pressing, we would recommend starting by using a weight that is light enough that you can control for 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Perfect proper form before you start adding more weight. You can use a barbell, a pair of dumbbells, or kettlebells to perform this exercise. Make sure to have a spotter when doing a decline bench press.
If you don't have a decline bench press setup, you can also use a flat bench and place plates under one side to elevate it. Make sure to hang your feet off the side that is elevated.
How to Do the Decline Bench Press:
You don’t have to be on a decline bench to achieve the ideal slightly downward angle of movement.
This is a great alternative exercise and when you use a double cable machine stack so you can sit in an upright position to get the same result.
You can also use resistance bands if the cable stack is unavailable.
How to Do Seated Decline Cable Press:
Chest dips are one of the best bodyweight exercises to target your pectoral muscles, shoulders, and triceps.
This bodyweight movement allows you to put more emphasis on your lower chest area whenever you lean your torso forward.
As you get stronger and can do your bodyweight easily for reps, you can start adding chains, weighted vests, or dip belts to increase the resistance. In the opposite direction if you’re struggling to do your body weight we recommend using a dip machine or doing them off of a bench.
How to Do Chest Dips:
The decline dumbbell fly is a chest fly variation performed on a slight decline, which targets the lower chest muscles slightly more than the traditional flat and incline variations.
Just like the decline bench press, this great exercise helps to decrease the strain on the anterior shoulders when compared to the flat or incline version.
Since the triceps and the shoulders are less involved in this variation, this helps to focus on the lower chest even more.
We recommend doing this exercise with light weights to start and slowly building it up as you get comfortable with the form. You can use a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells to perform this exercise. Make sure to have a spotter when doing decline dumbbell flyes.How to Do the Decline Dumbbell Fly:
In a decline floor bench press, you will use your own body to create the 30-degree decline.
This angle places your upper body on a downward slope, which activates the lower pectoral muscles as you push weights away from your body. This variation is great for your shoulders since you’re unable to get the full range of motion because of the floor.
How to Do the Decline Floor Press:
This great exercise is incredibly beneficial for your chest because the pattern of a chest pullover resembles an arc. This arc motion allows your lower pecs to stretch and contract effectively.
Apart from hitting your lower pecs, this exercise mainly targets your pecs, serratus anterior, and lats.
While also working the delts, upper abs, triceps, and biceps slightly. While it isn’t the perfect substitute for a decline bench press, they do contribute greatly towards the overall size, strength, and shape of your chest. Another way that can help you to build more muscle is by trying the Ultimate Mass Stack.How to Do the Dumbbell Chest Pullover:
If you want to build big and well-proportioned pecs, that can put out some serious power, then you need to start putting some emphasis on the lower chest.
With the five alternatives to the decline barbell bench press, you should be more prepared to build a strong and sculpted chest.
Implementing these exercises with other movements that emphasize every part of the chest can help lead to a more balanced upper body.
Train your chest in a way that allows you to emphasize both upper and middle parts as well. This will ensure that you build muscle, overall strength, and size development of your chest.