Upper and Lower Pec Exercises for Muscle Mass

by Lee Cork

So, which exercises work the upper pec and which exercises work the lower pec?

Most gurus will tell you to just do a well-rounded chest workout and hit the chest from all directions and let your whole chest get bigger.

So here is a more specific answer.

Here is a diagram of the Upper and Lower Pecs:

upper and lower pec workouts


As you can see, the lower part is much larger than the upper part.

So, if you want mass, the lower is what’s going to give you the mass.

The pecs are just one muscle but they have different attach points.

They both attach to the top of the arm but they either attach to the sternum here or the collarbone here. The ones that attach to the collarbone are the upper pec; the ones that attach to the sternum are the lower pec.  Now, there’s three possible angles you can hit the pecs at.

The first is a neutral position, perpendicular to the body like you’d be doing in a bench-press or a fly.  The next angle is at an incline up like this as you would be doing if you were on an incline bench doing dumbbell flies or incline bench doing dumbbell press.

The last angle is a decline, down.

So, what you would be doing if you were doing decline flies or decline press.  Now, which of the three angles works upper pec and which of the three works lower pec?

Well, let’s start with the muscle that’s attached to the collar bone going down to the arm; the upper pec.  Now, if this muscle were to just spasm and contract, which way would my arm go?  It’s going to go Right. It will do an incline.

Anything that’s doing a lifting in the incline direction is going to work your upper pec.

So, incline dumbbell press wheel, incline flies wheel, or if you’re doing cables with attached to the floor behind you and you’re doing a cable upwards.  That will work your upper pec.

So, now let’s take the lower pec attached to your sternum out here to your arm.

Now, if this muscle spasms, which way is it going to go?  This will also go Right.

So, it goes across the body that way.

A dumbbell fly will work your lower pec.

A bench-press will work your lower pec.

So, now let’s take the part of the pec that’s attached  way down here at the bottom of the sternum and attached up there.

If my arm is out here and this muscle spasms, where’s the arm going to go?  Boom.  Down!

So, when you do this down and across motion, that’s going to work your lower pec also.

So, a decline press or if you have cable attached high behind your head and you’re pulling down, that will also do that part.

So, in summary, the two angles that work your lower pec are the neutral like you would in a fly or bench-press and the decline work the lower pec.

What works the upper pec is anything that pushes up like that or flies up like that.  Now that you know which exercises work upper pec and which work lower pec, I want you to forget it all.

The reason is it would be a mistake for anyone that’s been lifting less than 5 years seriously to focus on any one particular angle.

You need to be doing a well-rounded chest workout that includes incline direction, neutral direction, and decline direction; all of them.

So, don’t focus on upper, don’t focus on lower, just hit your chest from all possible angles as hard as you can and you’ll get big pec’s!

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