Building the inner chest can be one of the trickiest parts of training your upper body. This area of the muscle group requires more specific movements but if you know what you’re doing, you can build a set of sculptured pecs.
In this article, we’ll break down how the chest work and the factors that go into building the muscles up in this area. Then, we’ll leave you with some inner chest exercises and a sample workout you can do today. Let’s get started!
How The Chest Works
The chest is made up of a group of fan-shaped muscles from the center of your chest to your shoulder and humerus bone. Two major muscles make up the chest: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.
The “pec” major is the largest and most superficial of the two chest muscles. It originates at the sternum and attaches to the clavicle and humerus bone. The pec major is reasonable for arm flexion or bringing the arms in front of the body.
The “pec” minor lies under the pec major. It originates at the clavicle and connects to the upper ribs. The pec minor is mainly responsible for stabilizing and assisting in the rotation of the shoulder blade.
These two muscles are the main bulk of the chest. There’s also the serratus anterior, which are fingerlike muscles that assist in pulling the shoulder blade forward. They also raise the arm over the head. When it comes to training the chest, you will be using all of these muscles and trying to focus your attention on maximizing your work.
Factors for Training the Chest
Several factors need to be considered when trying to sculpt the chest to get the best results. Some of the most important factors include:
The 10 Best Inner Chest Exercises
There are dozens of exercises that target the inner chest and, on top of that, there are dozens of variations of each exercise. However, these are the ten best inner chest exercises you’ll want to add to your workout split.
10. Bench Press
The bench press is an exercise typically performed with a barbell while lying on your back on a bench. Most of the work is in the chest and shoulders.
Benefits of the Bench Press
The bench press can be one of the best ways to challenge the chest muscles. You can progressively overload the majority of the chest muscles to add volume to the chest muscles as well as pure strength! The barbell typically allows for a greater weight over dumbbells. Therefore, the bench press is also one of the best exercises for losing chest fat.
How to Do the Bench Press
- Begin by laying on your back underneath the bar with your back flat on the bench, core braced, and feet flat on the ground.
- Grab onto the bar so your hands are about shoulder-width apart.
- Then push the bar off of the rack and bring it centered over your chest.
- Then breathe in and lower the bar to your chest
- Then exhale as you press the bar away from your body returning the bar back to the rack.
Benching is best with a spotter. If it’s too heavy or you get tired, the spotter can help save you from serious injury.
If you’re looking to build chest muscles, chest press is a great alternative. However, the main differences between the chest press and bench press are you can add more weight when doing bench press and you can trail till failure safely with the chest press.
9. High-to-Low Cable Flys
This cable chest exercise is a great variation to the cable fly machine. However, high-to-low cable flys focus most of the work on the lower chest area.
Benefits of High-to-Low Cable Flys
The high-to-low-cable fly will yield similar benefits to the cable fly but add more challenge to the shoulders and inner chest because there will be constant tension. This will help sculpt your chest!
How to do High-to-Low Cable Flys
- Begin by adjusting the handles towards the top of the tower, grabbing onto the handles, and having an offset stance
- Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, squeeze your inner chest and bring your hands down towards your belly button
- Then slowly return your hands back to the start maintaining the tension through the chest
8. Single-Arm Cable Press-Around
The single-arm cable press around shouldn’t be confused with the single-arm cable fly. This exercise will keep constant tension in the chest and extend the range of motion.
Benefits of Single-Arm Cable Press-Around
The benefits of the single-arm cable press around will be a great addition to your workout to isolate one side of your chest at a time and target the lower inner chest. This exercise will also help improve your bench press since it’s a similar movement.
How to do the Single-Arm Cable Press-Around
- Begin by facing away from the tower holding onto one handle with your elbow elevated bent and your hand in front of your chest
- Keeping your feet wide apart press your arm across your body extending your elbow
- Return back to the start by slowly bending your elbow allowing your hand to come toward the shoulder
7. Dumbbell Fly
The dumbbell fly is an excellent exercise that keeps tension in your chest and stretches the pecs throughout the entire exercise. This exercise is essential for sculpting the inner chest!
Benefits of Dumbbell Flys
The dumbbell fly will target the inner chest and gravity will work hard against you in this exercise. The exercise yields more challenges and bigger results!
How to Do Dumbbell Flys
- Begin by sitting on a bench with your dumbbells on your knees
- Then lay back and push the dumbbells up with your knees at the same to assist the dumbbells over your shoulders.
- Letting your palms face each other and keeping a slight bend in the elbows lower the weights slowly parallel with your chest to your side till your elbow are slightly lower than the bench
- Then keeping tension into the chest bring arms together back in front of the chest keeping elbows slightly bent
6. Hex Press
This exercise is originally intended to be performed with hexagonal dumbbells so you can press them together for extra tension.
Benefits of the Hex Press
On top of working your inner chest, the hex press will target your stabilizer muscles too! Be sure to use an incline bench for maximum inner chest use!
How to do the Hex Press
- Start with your incline bench set to around 30 degrees laying on your back
- Bring the dumbbells up above your chest pressing them together
- Then lower the dumbbells flaring your elbows out to the side till they reach your chest
- Return the dumbbells over the head by continuing to press them together until the arms are extended over the chest
Be sure to keep dumbbells pressing against each other throughout the entire range of motion for maximum benefit!
5. Dumbbell Bench Press
The dumbbell bench press has crossover benefits from the barbell bench press, but it will challenge every fiber of your chest. This allows each arm to be challenged individually.
Benefits of the Dumbbell Bench Press
The dumbbell bench press has similar benefits to the barbell bench press. The main difference is you will be focusing on smaller muscle groups within the shoulder and chest since you don’t have as much stability when using dumbbells.
How to do Dumbbell Bench Press
- Begin by sitting on a bench with your dumbbells on your knees
- Then lay back and push the dumbbells up with your knees to assist the dumbbells over your shoulders.
- Then lower the dumbbells toward your chest till your elbows are at least parallel to the ground
- Then press the dumbbell back to the start
Be sure to grab a friend as a spotter if you feel uncomfortable.
4. Squeeze Press
The squeeze press is like the hex press, but the exercise is performed on a flat bench. This is a great exercise to start your chest workout because of the squeeze you get at the beginning!
How to do the Squeeze Press
- Start by laying flat on your back and bringing the dumbbells over your chest with your arms extended and pressing the dumbbells together
- Then lower the dumbbells to the chest by flaring the elbows out, maintaining pressure as you lower them down
- Return the dumbbells over your chest by extending the elbows and maintaining pressure on each dumbbell
3. Single Arm Cable Fly
Single-arm cable flys are great for isolating one side of the chest at a time. When doing this movement, focus on your weakness. The movement requires a little more practice to be able to isolate the right muscles.
Benefits of the Single-Arm Cable Fly
The single-arm cable fly will isolate and target the chest, but it will also challenge the inner chest muscles, allowing you to strengthen the weaker areas of your pecs.
How to do The Single Arm Cable Fly
This exercise can be performed from a cable machine standing, bent over, or on a flat bench. This is how to do a single-arm cable fly while sitting on a bench:
- Make sure you set up your bench next to the cable tower
- Lay on your back and grab a hold of one handle with your palm up and elbow slightly bent
- Keeping your elbow bent bring your arm towards your chest until your hand is over your chest
- Keeping the elbow bent slowly lower your arm back out to your side
2. Plate Squeeze Press
A plate squeeze press is a great exercise to finish off your chest workout. The amount of tension you have to keep in your chest to keep the plates pressed together gives one last push to your muscles.
How to do the Plate Squeeze Press
- Begin in a tall kneeling position pressing a pair of weight plates together at your chest level, keeping it light, maybe 10 lbs but not much more
- Then extend your arms out in front of your body until your elbows are straight
- Keep pressing the elbows together and return the elbows to the chest
The key to this movement is pressing the plates together and moving slowly!
1. Bear Plank Chest Press
Bear plank chest presses will flip you upside down and take away all the stability of the bench. You’ll need your entire core and legs to stabilize you through the entire movement.
Benefits of the Bear Plank Chest Press
This exercise is a great way to challenge your entire body and add a lot more demand to that core and total body.
How to do the Bear Plank Chest Press
- Start in a bear crawl position with knees off the ground and holding onto the cable handles
- Begin by lifting one arm towards your chest while pressing the other hand into the ground and stabilizing your torso
- Return your hand to the ground by pressing and lifting the other hand towards the chest and repeat
- Being sure to choose the appropriate weight so you can maintain a stable torso
Tips for Training the Inner Chest
You can practice as many of the exercises listed above. However, to get the most out of each exercise, you’ll want to follow these tips. Otherwise, you might not get the maximum results from each movement.
Find Your Line of Pull
Finding the right angles when performing these exercises to target the inner chest is important. Each muscle of the chest has different orientations and directions it inserts and attaches to.
When you can find the right “line of pull” for each exercise, it will crush your inner chest workout and gain those much-desired results!
Use Isolated Movements
When training your chest, isolated movements will yield the biggest bang for your buck! Targeting just the right muscles and not wasting time or energy on other muscles will help you see results in your inner chest and keep you motivated!
Make Sure You Feel the Exercise
It’s extremely important to make sure you are feeling the exercise as intended where you want to build that muscle. Just like when you found your “line of pull”, you should feel that area targeted when performing each exercise. If you don’t, adjust your body angle, hand position, or stance to get the most feel out of each exercise.
Know That Results Take Time
Here’s the biggest takeaway! You’re not going to see results overnight! Dedicate yourself to a consistent workout schedule and stick to it for at least 6 weeks. This is the bare minimum before you’ll see any significant changes in your workouts. Trust the process, stay focused and in time you will see the results you have been working for!
Sample Inner Chest Workout
Next time you’re at the gym, try out this sample inner chest workout using the exercises highlighted above.
Be sure to start with a good 5 -10 minute warmup getting the blood pumping in the body before your workout. You can add in any additional exercises above to build out your workout.
- Barbell Bench press – 3 sets 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Fly 3 sets 8-10 reps
- Hex Press – 3 sets 8-10 reps
- High Low Cable Flys – 3 sets 8-10 reps
- Plate Squeeze Press – 5 sets 10-12 reps or until failure
Use this example workout as a template to build your best workout. You’ll get your chest sculpted and see some serious results if you do so! You can also take some of these exercises and combine them with our TRX chest and shoulder workout.
Solan, M. (2019, February 17). The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/rise-push-ups-classic-exercise-can-motivate-get-stronger-2019021810165
ACE-sponsored research: Top 3 most effective chest exercises. ACE Fitness. (n.d.). https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2884/ace-sponsored-research-top-3-most-effective-chest-exercises/