The chest is comprised of four different muscles, the pectoralis major (the largest), the pectoralis minor (which sits just beneath the pec major), the subclavius (a small muscle of the thoracic wall) and finally, the serratus anterior (a fan shaped muscle to the side). When performing a chest workout it’s important to focus on each of the pectoral muscles to help build a well-developed chest.
Often during chest training, it’s not uncommon for most people to focus on the upper chest, but by limiting exercises to the lower pecs may result in an unbalanced physique. If you are looking to add some muscle mass to your lower chest, then incorporating a variety of dumbbell exercises into your routine is a great way to target this area. In this article we cover a number of different isolation exercises that can help you to build a bigger chest.
Some of the best chest exercises to specifically target the lower chest using just a pair of dumbbells include close grip dumbbell push up, decline bench press, decline chest fly and chest dips with a dumbbell. Using dumbbells will allow for a greater range of motion helping you to build a strong chest.
Continue reading to discover more about some of the best lower chest dumbbell exercises that you can incorporate into your chest day training plan.
What are Lower Chest Dumbbell Exercises?
As mentioned above, most people tend to focus their training efforts on working out the top of the pec major. This is likely because it’s easier to target the muscle fibers of the upper chest. However, by placing focus on the lower portion of the chest and isolating the pec minor with certain specific exercises can make a big difference to the overall aesthetic of the chest. Below, we’ve listed some of the best dumbbell chest exercises.
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
The decline dumbbell press is a variation on the flat dumbbell press with the main difference being the position of the back pad. The decline position (with your head lower than your chest) allows for much better activation of the lower chest muscles.
- You want to start by lying down on a decline bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Brace your core as you lower down the barbell to give you some stability
- Once in position, keep your shoulders back and elbows slightly tucked in
- Press the weight up until your arms are fully extended
- Make sure to keep your elbows in throughout the exercise and drive through your heels.
Decline Dumbbell Fly
The decline dumbbell fly is a very popular chest exercise that not only works the lower pecs but also the anterior deltoid and biceps. Make sure to focus on good form and this will really work the entire chest area.
- Begin by lying back on an decline bench and holding a pair of dumbbells over your chest with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards).
- Slowly begin to lower the dumbbells down and back until your arms are horizontal with the plane of your body.
- Pause for a second or two, and then bring them back up over your chest.
Make sure to keep your arms slightly bent throughout the exercise as this reduces stress to your elbow joints. Also, maintain a slight arch to your lower back as this will help with stability.
The dumbbell pullover is more traditionally favoured as a lat building exercise. However, depending on how your perform the exercise it can be a good option for working the chest muscles.
To perform the exercise
- Start with a lower weight and lie back on a flat bench whilst holding one dumbbell with both hands
- Keep your arms fully extended so that the dumbbell is essentially directly over your face.
- Begin to lower the weight down and behind you, dropping the dumbbell as low as you can manage without putting too much stress on your shoulders or allowing your hips to rise
- Bring the dumbbell back up to the starting position.
Throughout the exercise keep your core and glutes tight and squeeze the chest muscles. A lot of shoulder mobility is required for this exercise so if you do have weaker shoulders it would be a good idea to do some warm up exercises before starting.
The dumbbell row primarily targets the upper back muscles but as it’s a compound movement will also work other muscle groups including the chest, core and triceps.
To perform the dumbbell row exercise
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand and placing your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat and shoulders down.
- Row the dumbbells while your elbows are maintained in a slight bend
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the move
- Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Single Arm Pullover
The single arm pullover is a great exercise for targeting the lower chest muscles and has the added benefit of working the shoulders but requires a lot of stability so start light. This is a great exercise to highlight muscles that are dominant
To perform the exercise
- Start by lying on your back on a flat bench with a dumbbell in one hand
- Extend your arm straight up above your chest with your palm facing away from you and hold the dumbbell directly over your chest
- Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping your elbow close to your ear and allowing your shoulder to rotate slightly as you do so
- Reverse the motion, bringing the dumbbell back to the starting position above your chest
- Repeat for your desired number of reps.
Single Arm Dumbbell Press
With a single arm dumbbell press, you can target your lower chest muscles more effectively than with a traditional bench press.
To do perform exercise
- Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in your right hand
- Put your left hand behind your head or rest it on the bench for support
- Press the dumbbell straight up overhead, keeping your elbow close to your side.
- Lower the weight back down to the starting position
- Repeat for the number of reps.
Once finished, switch hands and repeat.
Single Arm Dumbbell Fly
The single arm dumbbell fly is a great exercise for targeting the lower chest muscles and core.
To perform this exercise select a lightweight dumbbell and lie on a decline bench set to 5 degree downward angle
- Using one dumbbell, hold it in your right hand and place your left hand on your left hip.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell to eye level while keeping your elbow slightly bent and in line with your shoulders
- Lift the dumbbell up until your arm is extended
- Lower the weight back down to the starting position
- Repeat the process.
This exercise will really help to open up the chest muscles which may help loosen up the lower body.
Performing Lower Chest Dumbbell Exercises
When performing any of the lower chest dumbbell exercises, for best results consider following a few standard procedures as listed below.
- Where an exercise requires you to maintain straight arms, always keep a slight be at the elbows to reduce joint stress,
- When using a bench, push through the heels especially when lifting heavier weights.
- Aim to start with a lighter weight and higher reps so you can concentrate on good form.
- Throughout the exercises, brace your core and glutes as this will give you stability helping with form.
- Perform all reps with a slow and controlled movement concentrating on the eccentric portion (lowering the dumbbells) as this is when most muscle fibers are damaged so they can grow back bigger and stronger!
Lower Chest Dumbbell Exercises With No Bench
If you don’t have access to a flat bench or adjustable bench but still want to work your lower chest using a pair of dumbbells here are a few of our favorite lower chest dumbbell exercises that you can do without a bench:
Dumbbell Chest Press
Start by lying on the ground with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing towards the ceiling. Press the weights up above your chest, then slowly lower them back down to the starting position. You’ll find you have a smaller range of motion than if you were to use a bench but keep tension on the chest by squeezing the muscles throughout.
As with the dumbbell chest press, begin by lying on the ground with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other. Keeping your arms straight, raise the weights up until they meet in the middle above your chest, then lower them back down to the starting position. As with many other floor based exercises, you won’t be able to take advantage of full range of motion but you can still work your muscles effectively.
To perform this one, lie down on ground with a dumbbell in one hand and your other hand behind your head for support. Hold the weight overhead and slowly lower it behind your head until your arm is parallel to the ground, then press it back up to the starting position.
What Are The Benefits of Doing Lower Chest Dumbbell Exercises
Develops Muscular Symmetry
If you only focus on working out your upper body, you can end up with an unbalanced physique. By including lower chest exercises in your workout routine, you can achieve better muscular symmetry and avoid any potential injuries that could occur from having muscles that are too weak or too strong in comparison to others.
Stronger lower chest muscles can help to improve your posture by keeping your shoulders pulled back and your spine aligned. This is especially beneficial if you spend a lot of time in a sedentary position such as sitting at a desk and hunched over a computer.
Reduces the Risk of Injury
Working out your lower chest can help to stabilize your shoulder joint and reduce the risk of injuring yourself during other upper body exercises. It can also help to correct any muscle imbalances that may be putting you at risk for injury.
Increases Strength and Power
Including lower chest exercises in your workout routine can help to increase your overall strength and power. This is because the lower chest muscles are some of the largest muscles in the body and by working them out, you can see significant gains in strength and power.
Enhances Athletic Performance
If you participate in any sports that require explosive movements such as basketball or football, then working out your lower chest can help to improve your performance. This is because the lower chest muscles are responsible for generating a lot of the power needed for these types of movements.
Lastly, having a well-developed lower chest can help to boost your confidence. This is because having a strong and muscular physique is often seen as a symbol of strength and masculinity. If you feel good about your appearance, then this can translate into other areas of your life, such as your work or social life.
The lower chest is often a neglected area when it comes to dumbbell exercises for bodybuilding. However, as this article has shown, there are a number of great exercises that can be done with dumbbells to target the lower chest and build strong, defined muscles.
So, if you’re looking to add some new exercises to your routine, you may want to give any of the above a try.