No matter how many push-ups and bench presses you do, you might feel that the inner part of your chest is not as well-developed as you’d like it to be.
If this is the case, don’t despair. There are lots of exercises you can do to grow this area. Read on to learn about eight of the best inner chest exercises you can add to your workouts for better results.
1. Cable Crossover
Before we get into some of the more unique exercises on this list, let’s start with some basic exercises for the inner chest that you should work on mastering. One such exercise is the cable crossover.
Cable crossovers do a great job of keeping tension on the inner chest muscles as you move through a full range of motion. To get the most out of them, make sure you’re following these cues:
- Start by standing in front of the cable crossover machine, leaning forward, so your torso is bent slightly
- Hold a cable handle in each hand and bring them together toward the center of your chest
- Open the arms in an arc until you begin to feel a stretch in your chest (keep the arms locked with a slight bend in the elbow)
- Aim to keep the movement as smooth as possible as you move your arms
- Hold this stretched position for a moment, then slowly return to the center
- As you return to center, squeeze your muscles to place an extra emphasis on the inner chest
If you don’t have access to a cable crossover machine, you can also mimic this exercise using resistance bands. Loop the band around a sturdy surface or use a doorjamb tool to anchor the band in the door frame, then perform the exercise as you would with a cable machine (video demonstration).
2. Dumbbell Flyes
If you’re interested in doing inner chest exercises with dumbbells, another staple movement to add to your routine is the dumbbell fly.
Dumbbell flyes are very popular and are great for correcting any muscle imbalances you might experience in other chest workouts. If you have one side of your chest that is weaker than the other, using dumbbells can help you to fix this issue and build a more balanced (in terms of both strength and aesthetics) physique.
To do dumbbell flyes correctly, keep these tips in mind:
- Choose a set of light-medium dumbbells (start lighter if you’re new to this exercise)
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie flat on a bench
- Bring the hands together over the chest while keeping them parallel to the floor
- Slowly open your arms and lower the dumbbells in an arcing motion while keeping the arms locked (but let there be a slight bend in your elbows)
- Stop when you start to feel a stretch in your chest
- Keep the arms locked as you bring them back together, so the dumbbells meet above your chest
- Squeeze the chest muscles together before lowering the dumbbells
3. Single-Arm Chest Fly
Another way to combat muscle imbalances while also figuring out how to work the inner chest is to do single-arm chest flyes. A single-arm chest fly with a cable or resistance band places a lot of emphasis on the upper-inner chest. It also helps you increase your range of motion and maximize muscle contractions.
The setup for this exercise is similar to the setup for a two-arm cable crossover. The big difference is that you’re only holding a pulley in one hand instead of both. Once you’re in the proper position, follow these cues:
- Extend the arm in an arcing motion, keeping the elbow locked with a slight bend
- Extend it until you feel a stretch in your chest
- From here, bring the hand holding the pulley toward the middle of the chest as you keep the torso straight
- Squeeze your chest muscles together when you reach the center of the chest
- Hold this position for a second, then return to the starting position
To ensure the chest muscles are working, try placing your opposite hand on the chest. This is a form of biofeedback that helps you feel whether or not the chest’s inner fibers are contracting.
4. Dumbbell Flyes with Resistance Band
To up the ante on your dumbbell flyes, add a resistance band. When you add resistance bands to certain exercises, including middle chest exercises, you can increase the total amount of tension placed on your muscles.
Bands are most resistant in the position where you’re strongest. They help you keep tension on the inner chest at the top of the exercise, a position in which you might not normally feel much.
Set up for this exercise similar to the way you would for regular dumbbell flyes. To add the band, loop it underneath your bench (or underneath your torso if you prefer) and hold one end in each hand along with the dumbbells.
From here, simply follow the cues listed for Exercise 2. If you find the exercise is too challenging with the band, you might want to drop the weight a bit to make up for the extra resistance.
5. Plate Press
It wouldn’t be a list of good exercises that develop the inner chest without mention of the plate press. A plate press requires you to squeeze and engage the inner chest muscles more than other pressing exercises, increasing tension and helping you better target this region.
To perform a plate press, choose a plate that you can hold between your hands with relative ease. If you’ve never done this exercise, start with a lighter plate to stay safe. Follow these cues:
- Lie flat on the bench and hold the plate between your open palms
- Slowly press the plate up in a straight line, then lower it back down
- Make sure the plate is perfectly aligned with the center of the chest
- Squeeze your chest muscles throughout the entire movement
- Move slowly and with control as you perform each rep
Keep in mind that this exercise is, in general, best performed with a lighter weight and higher reps. This helps minimize your risk of dropping the weight. It also allows you to accumulate more training volume for your inner chest.
More like this: 9 Weight Plate Exercises for Weight Loss (Full Body Workout)
6. Hybrid Fly-Press
A more advanced exercise that can be great for the inner chest muscles is a hybrid fly-press. Combining these upper-inner exercises lets you experience the best of what each one has to offer.
To get set up for this exercise, start by setting an adjustable bench, so it’s at an incline of about 15-30 degrees. Position it, so it’s in the middle of the cable machine, equal distance from each side. Adjust the machine, so the pulleys are in the lowest position, then follow these cues:
- Grasp one handle in each hand as you lie back on the bench
- Make sure your elbows are bent at approximately 90 degrees with the pulleys in line with your shoulders
- You can keep your feet flat on the floor or rest them on the bench (the second option is more challenging)
- Press the handles up and bring your hands together
- Your arms should be fully extended above your upper chest with your hands almost touching
- Squeeze your chest muscles together here, then slowly lower your arms down and return to the starting position
7. Hammer Squeeze Press
This exercise is similar to a plate press. The big difference, though, is that you’re using two dumbbells and squeezing a small medicine ball between them. This combination helps you keep even more tension on the inner chest muscles, which can help you see better results than you will from the plate press alone.
Adjust your bench for this exercise, so it’s at a 15-45-degree angle. Grab a pair of light-moderate dumbbells and a light medicine ball (choose the lightest one possible — the goal is to give yourself something to squeeze, not to add a lot of extra weight).
The easiest way to get in position is to have someone place the ball between the dumbbells for you. That way, you won’t have to worry about dropping it as you’re setting up.
Once you’re in position, follow these steps:
- Sit back on the bench with arms extended and palms facing each other
- Squeeze your hands together to create a strong contraction in the inner chest and keep the ball from slipping
- From here, bend the elbows and lower the dumbbells and medicine ball down toward the middle of your chest
- When the ball touches the chest, press it back up to the starting position while squeezing it to prevent slipping
8. Diamond Push-Ups
Finally, we can’t forget about diamond push-ups. Diamond push-ups are one of the best inner pec exercises you can do, and as an added bonus, they don’t require any equipment.
Set up for diamond push-ups in a high plank position, the way you would for regular push-ups. From here, bring your hands together so that the thumb and index finger of each hand form a diamond shape. Then, follow these cues:
- Bend your elbows and lower your body down toward the ground
- Squeeze your chest muscles together as you lower
- Make sure your body lowers in one smooth motion (engage your core and glutes)
- When you’ve lowered as much as you can, straighten your arms and press your body back up to the starting position (make sure your body rises in one smooth motion, too)
If you have a difficult time doing push-ups with proper form, try incline diamond push-ups. Place your hands in a diamond position on a box or bench, then perform them the same way you would if you were on the floor. This is better than doing push-ups with your knees on the ground because it helps you practice keeping your core and glutes engaged.
Try These Inner Chest Exercises Today
If you’re looking to build stronger and more sculpted chest muscles, these six inner chest exercises are great ones to add to your routine. They’ll help you create a more balanced physique and ensure you’re getting the most out of every workout.
If you’re not practicing these exercises for the center of the chest already, now is the perfect time to start. Give them a try today!