The humbling pushup exercise ranks among the best body conditioning exercises. It will hardly miss in most full-body workout plans. Although most of us have a hate-love relationship with this exercise, we cannot deny it is an appropriate chest activation workout. There are different pushup variations that you can perform to target the upper and lower chest muscles. If you are looking to work on your lower chest, stick around as we will explore pushups for the lower chest.
If you want to pack a serious punch in your lower chest, then try doing pushups for the lower chest. They actively engage these muscles and give them a good workout. However, you might not see any fruits if you disregard the correct form. Form is the foundation of muscle activation in your lower chest using these pushup exercises. So, without further ado, let us get started on these moves.
The Best Pushups For Lower Chest
When doing a pushup, you get to activate so many different muscles. They could be those in your arms, shoulders, upper back, chest, or triceps. It means that you need to understand what each pushup variation works to help attain your fitness goal.
I suppose you are here because you want variations that specifically target your lower chest muscles. If so, you are in the right place. But before we delve into these moves, let me remind you of some key pointers that will come in handy. They are as follows:
Seeking Professional Help
You need to check in with your doctor and trainer first before starting any of the listed exercises in this read. Whether you have done these exercises before or not, you need first to get a professional’s go-ahead.
Consultation is mandatory if you have health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease (4). It is also vital if you experience pain or discomfort when exercising in various body parts such as your back, neck, or chest (4).
Mastering The Basics
Just because pushups are a staple in most exercise programs doesn’t mean most people are familiar with them. You will find most people struggling to master the correct technique of this exercise. For example, you may struggle with the back, arms, or neck positioning during movement.
Go back to the drawing board and learn how to do a basic push up before trying any of these variations. They are more challenging than the regular pushup and have a higher risk of injuries. However, consistently doing the standard pushup will help pave the way to these more complex moves.
It would be best if you remembered that exercise and diet go hand-in-hand. You will only get to build muscle tone and strength in your lower chest by exercising and eating right. You will need an excellent muscle-building diet filled with macronutrients and micronutrients to help attain this goal (5).
According to Medical News Today, macronutrients refer to proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates (5). Proteins help your body function properly and include foods like grains, beans, meat, dairy products, and nuts.
Carbohydrates provide your body’s primary energy source and include foods like barley, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. The fats you consume should account for 20 to 30% of your daily calorie intake (5). You will get healthy fats from food sources like avocados, seeds, nuts, ghee, butter, or omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (5).
Micronutrients, on the other hand, refer to minerals and nutrients. They are found in various fruits and vegetables. You can also attain them from supplements. However, you need to first talk to your doctor to verify if the supplements you want are safe for consumption.
As mentioned earlier, you will only reap your desired results if you pay attention to the correct form. Unfortunately, it is pretty easy to mess up the form of any pushup variation. Here are some easy tips to help you avoid making this dire mistake:
- Let your chest be the first to graze the floor when lowering towards the ground (2). Most people tend to always touch the ground first using their hips, legs or thighs. If this happens to you, it means that you are doing it wrong and must work on correcting this.
- Breathe in as you lower your body and exhale when lifting it. Avoid falling into the trap of holding your breath when doing a pushup of any kind.
- Work with a trainer. You do not have to learn these pushup variations by yourself. You make it simpler and more manageable by seeking the help of a trainer.
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With that in mind, let us look at the best pushup exercises to incorporate to activate your lower chest. They are as follows:
The Incline Pushup
One of the very best pushups for the lower chest that fitness gurus recommend is the incline pushup. As the name suggests, you will be expected to incline a certain angle to complete this move. The inclination is what helps target the lower chest muscles.
Equipment: To help with the incline, you will need a sturdy object. It could be a step platform, a bench, a desk, or a jump box (1).
- Start by lying face down with your hands firmly pressed on the desk, bench, or your sturdy object. Make sure that your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width distance and that your palms are facing down. Similarly, position your feet at a hip-width distance and let your toes be firmly pressed on the ground.
- Keep your back and spine straight and face down towards the floor.
- Start to lower your body towards the ground slowly. You can try to drop as much as you can, but do not rest on the desk. Experts advise you to aim at bringing your chest at least 4 to 8 inches away from the bench.
- Hold this position for two seconds.
- Push through your arms to return to the starting position. Remember to maintain a slow bend in your elbows when lifting your body.
Reps: 8 to 12
Target: Individuals can do incline pushups for lower chest at any fitness level. However, they must all have to learn the correct steps and have some basic knowledge of performing the standard pushup.
Caution: Body form is vital, which is why you are advised to keep your trunk and head in a stable neutral position. You can do this by contracting your back and abdominal muscles. Remember to avoid fully locking out the elbows or hyperextending your lower back (1).
Challenge: The following movement is suitable for a beginner who is just trying out the incline pushup variation. You can always make several adjustments if you want to make this move more challenging. For example, you can try placing your hands on two parallel surfaces like parallel bars separated by a hole in-between. The move will require you to lower your upper body even further, giving your lower chest a thorough workout.
The One Clap Pushup
Another type of pushup for the lower chest is the one clap move. It is more of a plyometric push up and does give a person a thorough workout. The exercise is also effective for increasing muscle strength, power, and body awareness (7). However, it is far more challenging and may take a toll on you if you do not have adequate upper body strength. So, talk to your trainer before trying out this move.
- Begin in the high plank position. This position means that you are on your fours. Your hands should be slightly wider than the shoulder-width distance. Your legs should be fully stretched behind, and you should be resting on your toes. Keep your back straight and face down.
- Breathe in and start to lower your body towards the floor. As you do this, try to engage your core and abdominal muscles. Make sure that your elbows are bending to help lower your chest. Keep in mind that you should not lie on the floor but instead rest a few inches above the ground.
- Hold this stance for a second or two.
- Exhale and straighten your arms to help lift your body. Make sure the movement is smooth and controlled to help avoid any injury.
- Upon lifting your body off the floor, lift your hands off the floor and clap once. You might stumble a couple of times, especially if it is your first time doing this. You can involve a trainer to help you master how to incorporate the clap without disrupting the exercise form.
- After the clap, land softly using your hands and repeat to perform another rep. Your elbows do not necessarily have to be straight after the land. You can maintain a soft bend in the elbows.
Reps: 5 to 10
Sets: 3 to 5
Caution: This exercise is challenging even for fitness coaches who have done it for years. Do not push yourself to master the technique overnight. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect, and continue training. Additionally, remember also to rest and hydrate in-between sets.
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The Wide Pushup
Wide pushups for the lower chest are also excellent exercises to help activate your lower chest muscles. The widened positioning of your hands helps put more focus on the lower chest muscles (3). It also helps target your shoulders and back muscles.
- Start by assuming a high plank position. Keep your spine and back straight in a neutral position.
- Extend your hands out further to the sides, more than your shoulder-width distance. The distance should be twice the arm positioning distance in the regular pushup (6).
- Breathe in and lower your chest towards the ground. Remember that your chest should be the first to glaze the floor and not your hips or thighs. Similarly, remember to engage your core and glutes throughout this movement.
- Hold this position for some seconds.
- Exhale and straighten your arms to help lift your body towards the ceiling. The idea is not to rush through this move and get it over and done. The goal is to reap its benefits. Maintain a slow pace as it will help you stay focused on your form and eventually reward you.
Reps: 8 to 2
Sets: 1 or 2
The Bottom Line
Pushups are practical exercises to help tone your chest. If you are targeting your lower chest, consider adding pushups for lower chest in your exercise regime. They specifically target your lower chest area. These pushup exercises include the clap pushup, wide, and incline pushup. As always, you are advised only to make changes to your workout plan upon consultation with a fitness trainer.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Chest Exercises to Help Tone and More (2005, webmd.com)
- Doing the Perfect Push-Up (2009, webmd.com)
- Effect of the push-up exercise at different palmar width on muscle activities (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Exercise: When to check with your doctor first (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- How long does it take to build muscle? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What happens if you do pushups every day? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Which muscles do pushups work? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)