The pectoralis, or chest, muscle group in a man's body has two distinct sections: the upper, or pectoralis major, and lower, pectoralis minor muscles. Generally, most men train the upper section, giving little regard to fully developing the lower. While each section can be trained at the same time, by performing general exercises that target the chest, manipulating certain exercises allows him to shift more of the focus of the exercise to the pectoralis minor, or lower chest muscle.
Decline Bench Press With Free Weights
The standard bench press, on a flat bench, is an exercise that targets the man's chest muscle group as a whole. However, by using a decline bench rather than a flat bench, he can shift more of the exercise emphasis to the lower part of the chest. The exercise is still performed using dumbbells or a barbell and the basic movements and safety points of the exercise are the same. The key difference is the position of the body, as your head is now lower than your legs. It may take some time getting used to the feeling of performing the decline bench press and lighter weights should be used until you are comfortable with the exercise, for your safety. Your arms should still move perpendicular to the floor while lowering the weight to your chest, and your back and buttocks should maintain contact with the bench throughout the entire exercise. Decline bench press machines - plate loaded or selectorized - are also available at most gyms.
Decline Butterflys with Dumbbells
Performing chest flys, or the butterfly exercise, on a flat bench is another exercise men can use to target the chest as a whole. Performing this exercise on a decline bench is another way of manipulating a common chest exercise to target the pectoralis minor. Your arms will start with a slight bend at the elbow and be positioned perpendicular to the ground. The angle from your body, however should be around 45 degrees rather than 90 degrees as it is during a standard fly. When lowering the resistance being held in your hands toward the floor, your arms will move in a downward arc toward the floor and should stop once parallel to the floor. Care should be taken to give yourself time to adjust to the different body position this exercise uses. In addition, the use of a spotter is a must for this and any exercise using a decline bench.
Bodyweight Dips on a Chin/Dip Machine
Using a chin/dip bench is a great way to target the lower pectoral muscles in a man's chest muscle group. Generally, body weight is the resistance being worked against when using this exercise. The starting position of the chest dip has your arms fully extended, or perpendicular to the floor, supporting your body weight by holding the bench handles, with your feet hanging above the floor. Lengthen the chest muscle by lowering your upper body toward the floor by bending at the elbows to a point that your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Do not lower your body further, as this can place undue stress on the shoulders. Leaning forward slightly during the exercise will put more of an emphasis on the chest and less on the arms (triceps). Do not let your feet touch or hit the floor. At this point, your chest muscle will be fully stretched. Return to the starting position by extending your elbows back to full extension. This movement will fully contract the chest muscle, with emphasis on the lower pectoral area. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions over two to three sets.
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2000
- "Personal Trainer Manual"; American Council on Exercise; 1997