Home Exercises for the Lower Pecs

The pectoralis or pec muscles are your largest chest muscles, responsible for swinging your upper arm bone (the humerus) in toward your body. Chest presses and push ups are classic exercises that focus on developing the chest muscles; if you modify these exercises to bring your arms a bit lower than the midline of your chest, you’ll be focusing most of the strain of lifting on the lower part of your pectoral muscles. According to the clinic, 12 challenging repetitions of any of these exercises should be sufficient for most exercisers.

Decline Press

This exercises focuses most of the strain of lifting a weight on your lower pecs. Imagine the force of gravity as a line straight down from the barbell or dumbbells: Where this line hits is the part of the chest muscle you’re focusing on.

Position yourself on a bench that’s adjusted at a decline of up to 30 degrees; this exercise can be done at a decline of as much as 45 degrees, but it’s relatively rare to have a bench that declines to this angle available at home.

Perform a chest press with dumbbells or barbells, keeping the weight centered over your lower chest muscles. Start with the weight in the “up” position, then slowly bend your elbows as you lower the weight toward your lower chest. Keep your elbows tucked in slightly, at a 45-degree angle, and don’t let them go any lower than your shoulders. Control the motion throughout, moving through a slow count of two on the way down, pausing briefly, then moving through another slow count of two on the way back up.

Bench Push Ups

Resting your hands on an elevated bench while doing push ups helps focus the strain on your lower pecs; the principle is the same as doing a decline chest press, but instead of pushing weights up against gravity you’re pushing your body up against gravity. Focus on keeping your body straight in a plank position throughout the motion–don’t let yourself sag down or pike up at the hips–and, if you’re able to do more than 20 push ups this way, consider putting on a weight vest or putting on a heavy backpack to make the exercise more challenging without relinquishing the focus on your lower pecs.


The latissimus dorsi (back) muscles are the major movers for this exercise, but the pectoral muscles engage as the weight moves overhead and, if you exaggerate the end of the range of motion you’ll get a good workout in your lower pecs.

Lay face up on a bench with a single dumbbell grasped securely in both hands, or a barbell in a shoulder-width grip, palms facing toward your feet. Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your body as you extend the weight above your head, elbows slightly bent. The weight may be lower than your head because of this bend, but at no point should your elbows go any lower than shoulder height.

Imagine that your arms are fixed in place–don’t bend or flex the elbows from their current position–and rotate your arms at the shoulder to bring the weight up, over your face in an arc, and then across your chest until it’s centered above your lower pecs. Focus on maintaining a small, controlled motion. Slowly return the dumbbell to the starting position.

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributes regularly to various online publications. Print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.