What Type of Push Up Works the Lower Chest?

Target your lower chest with pushups.
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Body-weight exercises such as the pushup can help improve strength and muscle tone without the need for expensive gym memberships or any equipment. Pushups increase upper-body strength and work the chest muscles. Varying the angle at which pushups are performed emphasizes different parts of the chest including the lower chest.

Anatomy of the Pectorals

The chest muscles, also known as the pectorals or pecs, consist of the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major attaches to the upper part of the humerus or upper-arm bone and originates on the sternum or breast bone. The pectoralis minor is situated beneath the pectoralis major. It attaches to the anterior clavicle and originates on the anterior surface of the third to fifth ribs. The pectoralis major is made up of the upper chest and the lower chest.

The Basic Pushup

Lie face down on an exercise mat resting your weight on your straight arms and toes. Keep your body straight, palms flat on the floor and hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body toward the floor by bending your elbows. Stop before your body touches the floor then push back up to your starting position. Keep your body straight throughout the movement. This movement targets the entirety of the chest muscles including the lower chest. Other muscles engaged include the front deltoids or shoulders and the triceps. The core muscles of the abdominals and lower back are engaged to keep your body straight as you perform the movement. Do knee pushups if you are unable to do full pushups; keep both knees on the floor as you perform the exercise.

Incline Pushups

The incline pushup, with your arms and upper body higher than your legs, puts a greater emphasis on your lower chest. Stand in front of a narrow doorway. Place each hand, slightly below shoulder-height, on the vertical sections of the door frame. Keep your arms straight and walk your legs backward until you are standing on your toes with your body angled forward. Keeping your body straight and weight balanced on your hands and toes, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the door frame. Your head should poke between the door frame. Stop when you feel a full stretch in the chest muscles, then push up until your arms are straight. Alternatively, perform incline pushups with your hands on a bench, chair, step or any suitable elevated surface.

Increasing Intensity

Increase the intensity of your pushups for a more advanced lower-chest workout. Wear a weighted vest as you do your pushups, or do supersets. A superset is when you do two different exercises back to back with no rest in between. For example, do a set of 15 to 20 basic pushups, followed by an immediate set of 15 to 20 incline pushups. Alternatively, do incline pushups by placing your hands on a stability ball. Due to the instability of the ball, your muscles are induced to work harder. For an even more intense lower-chest workout, do a set of weighted pushups, followed by a set of incline pushups, then a set of stability ball pushups. This is called a tri-set.

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