I hear a lot of guys talk about targeting their “inner pecs” or targeting their “outer pecs” in reference to the pectoralis major. The fact is, there is no such thing as inner and outer pecs. In fact, the pectoralis major is just one muscle. The only reason we say, “pectorals” plural, is because you have two pectoralis major muscles, and you also have a pectoralis minor; however, for the purpose of this article, we won’t go into the minor. A better way to think about your pecs is as being divided into upper and lower pecs, because there are two points on your body where the pectorals attach themselves: the collar bone and the sternum.
Why Do People Say “Inner” and “Outer” Pecs?
Some people have a space in between their pecs along the sternum, where there is no muscle. They think that if they can somehow work their “inner pecs,” they can fill that gap; so, naturally they assume they have “outer pecs,” as well. Unfortunately, it is genetics that determine if you have that space there or not. No amount of lifting is going to fill that gap.
Upper and Lower Pecs
The part of the pectorals that attach to your collar bone are the upper part of your pecs. The part of the pectorals that attach to your sternum are the lower pecs. Again, the same muscle, just different segments.
Any exercise that works your chest in an incline motion, like incline bench press or incline dumbbell press, is going to work your upper pecs. So, shoulder presses, inclines chest flys, etc… these are all good exercises for building the upper pecs.
Any exercise that works your chest in a decline motion is going to target the very lowest portion of your pecs. This includes exercises, such decline bench press, decline flys, chest dips, etc… Your lower pecs are significantly larger than your upper pecs, so if you want to add mass, these are the best exercises for doing that. Here is a great list of lower chest exercises.
Any exercise that works your chest in a neutral motion – arms aligned with the shoulders – is also going to work your lower pecs. So, tradition pushups, bench press, and chest flys are going to hit that portion of your lower pecs right below the upper pecs.
Don’t Sweat It
Unless you’re an experienced bodybuilder who has been lifting for years, concentrating on your upper or lower pecs is going to make very little difference. The best approach is to have a well-rounded chest workout that hits the muscle from all angles.