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Lower Chest and Decline Bench

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  • Lower Chest and Decline Bench

    I've heard some conflicting opinions on the value of working the so-called "lower chest" for hypertrophy and aesthetics. I put it in quotes because while some sources will state that working the lower half of the chest with exercises like decline bench is necessary for getting a fuller, more well-rounded chest, there are others who will say that the "lower chest" isn't even its own thing, and that there is no mechanical way to specifically increase the size of that part of the pectorals separately from the rest of the muscle group.

    Which side is more correct? How nuanced is the topic if neither is correct? And if it's true that working the lower chest isn't a "real" thing, what value, if any, would the decline bench have for aesthetics, strength, or hypertrophy over any other bench variations?

    This isn't something part of my current programming, it's just something that I've always been confused about and wager you guys with your medical backgrounds would be ideal to chime in on it since there's definitely a huge matter of muscle anatomy confusion in this topic.

  • #2
    The topic, like most things involving humans, can get very complicated.

    A few points:
    • Many muscles have multiple functions and, depending on their orientation, may be have specific parts of the muscle that contribute to certain movements (or parts thereof).
    • To the extent that this can be leveraged for significant differences in hypertrophy is not well supported, especially as there are significant inter individual differences in anatomy and training response, among others.
    • It's hard to predict long-term training responses (hypertrophy in this case) with short-term surrogate markers like EMG studies
    In any case, I think it's a reasonable strategy to train the major muscle groups through large ranges of motion at different angles to maximize hypertrophy. Hope this helps.

    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
    ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///


    • #3
      Thanks for the quick response, as always! It does indeed seem like there is some grey space to this topic, from the sounds of it.

      So if I'm understanding correctly: There is not currently much compelling evidence in the literature to suggest that this sort of training definitely has a significant benefit across the board, but because the nature of muscles are so complex, and because there can be such a varied difference between muscle anatomy from person to person, it could be beneficial on an individual level? That would certainly correlate with what I've seen on an anecdotal level of some people swearing by it, with others saying they've never seen it do anything for them that flat benching doesn't already do.


      • #4
        Yes, some people will respond differently to different exercises. That's human nature.
        Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
        ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///