Lower chest dumbbell exercises

Adding chest exercises to your strength training is as important as hitting your back. While all chest exercises train the lower pecs, some movements and equipment place more emphasis on the lower pec muscle fibers.

You can target your lower chest by switching from the barbell to dumbbells and change the angle you press or perform a fly.

woman on a decline bench doing decline dumbbell chest press

The lower chest is made up of the Pectoralis minor, a small but equally important muscle the Pectoralis major. Many traditional chest movements, like the bench press or machine press, target the upper and mid-chest area but do not do enough to develop the lower muscles. 

How to train lower chest

If you want to target your lower chest, training with a dumbbell could be better than a barbell because it allows for a greater range of motion.

Training the lower chest requires you to change the angle of your press to emphasize the lower part of your chest. You can do this by performing exercises on a decline bench.

Depending on the angle at which you bring your arm forward, different muscle fibers of the pectoral muscles will work more or less.

  • Incline pressing will target the upper chest muscles fibers (the clavicular head).
  • Decline pressing will target the lower chest muscles fibers (the sternal head).
  • Flat pressing, like bench pressing, will target the whole pec muscle pretty evenly (the sternal and the clavicular part).

Benefits of training lower chest

Improved posture

A strong lower chest can help improve your posture and alignment by pulling the shoulders back and preventing rounding of the upper back. Your pecs also assist in stabilizing your shoulder joint.

Improved breathing

When you strengthen and lengthen your chest muscles, you expand and contract your ribcage, which in turn, supports deeper breathing.

Improved athletic performance

When your pecs become stronger, you can find yourself better in various sports. For example, you will be able to throw a ball faster, pass a ball and tackle others easier.

Improved chest strength

Training with dumbbells can help you improve any muscle imbalances between your pecs and the anterior (front) and posterior (back) sides. Dumbbells allow you to perform unilateral exercises (one arm at a time).

Improved physique

Chest training can help create a well-defined chest, enhancing the overall appearance of your muscles.

Lower chest dumbbell exercises

To work your lower chest, there is only one motion – downwards against the chest. Research shows lower chest muscles get the greatest activation when doing chest exercises on a decline.

Decline dumbbell bench press

lower chest dumbbells exercises decline press
lower chest dumbbells exercises decline dpress
  • Pick your weights and place them on your thighs as you sit on the decline bench
  • Lay down on the bench, twist the dumbbells and place them on your chest
  • Press the dumbbells up in a vertical movement extending your arms
  • Slowly return to your chest (the start position)
  • Repeat

This exercise targets your chest, rear delts, side chest and tricep muscles.

Variation: Decline bench press

Dumbbell pullover

lower chest dumbbells exercises db pullover
lower chest dumbbells exercises db pullover
  • Lie on a bench with your upper back resting on the surface and your feet on the ground.
  • Hold a single dumbbell with both hands and extend it over your head.
  • Lower the weight behind your head as far as possible, keeping your elbows slightly bent, and then raise it back up to the starting position.

This exercise targets your chest, back and tricep muscles with a greater emphasis on the lower chest muscles.

Decline dumbbell chest fly

lower chest dumbbells exercises decline fly

With a declining dumbbell fly, you should use lighter dumbbells than you would use with a dumbbell press. lighter weights

  • Pick your weights and place them on your thighs as you sit on the decline bench.
  • Lie back on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Start with your arms extended above your chest, palms facing each other. Lower the weights in a wide arc to the sides of your body, keeping a slight bend in your elbows, and then raise them back up to the starting position.
  • Slowly take back the arms to the original position.

This exercise targets the lower portion of your chest muscles.

Tip: Don’t touch the dumbbells together at the top of the fly, but rather keep them 3-6 inches apart. This will keep the chest muscles in constant tension.

Close grip bench press

The decline dumbbell close grip bench press not only hammers your lower chest but your inner chest, too

  • Lie on your decline bench with your head lowermost. Press your dumbbells up and hold them over your chest. Press the dumbbells together. Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
  • Maintaining inward pressure on the dumbbells, bend your arms and lower the weights to your chest.
  • Push the dumbbells back up and repeat.

This exercise targets the chest muscles, triceps and shoulders.

Cable crossovers

lower chest dumbbells exercises crossover
  • Stand in the middle of a cable machine and place the pulleys high above your head.
  • Put one step forward and pull your arms together
  • Now, downwards until your hands almost touch
  • Slowly let the pulley bring back your arms to the starting position while keeping tension in the cables.

This exercise targets the chest muscles (Pectoralis major and pec minor), shoulders, triceps and other muscles in the upper body.

Incline push ups (Feet on floor)

The push-up emphasizes your lower chest because of the pressing angle.

  • Place your hands on an elevated surface, with the feet together on the floor. T
  • Your hands can be slightly off the ground on a step or a bench.
  • Lower the sternum to the 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.

FAQs about dumbbell chest training

Any lower chest move that you can do with a barbell can be done with dumbbells.

Research shows lower chest muscles get the greatest activation when it is doing chest exercises on a decline.

Dumbbells are a popular choice for training chest muscles to allow for versatility, accessibility, convenience and work on muscle imbalances.

You could perform a dumbbell chest workout 2-3 times per week, with at least one day of rest in between each session.

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