Maintain good form for maximum pec recruitment.
Your pectorals, or chest muscles, are divided into two sections: pec minor and pec major. The pec major is the larger of these two and can be separated into an upper portion and a lower portion. Exercises such as bench presses and dumbbell presses work your lower pecs, but if you don't have access to equipment, pushups are an effective way to retain muscle mass, lose body fat and keep your lower pecs toned.
Know the Basics
Learning the standard pushup is the best way to start your journey toward lean, toned pecs. Pushups are performed with shoulder-width hand placement and just your hands and feet in contact with the floor. Keep your torso and hips flat and your core tight as you descend, then push back up as forcefully as possible. If you're struggling with regular pushups, drop to your knees and practice knee pushups instead. Pushups work all of your pecs, including the lower part.
Try a Decline
To recruit more of the lower portion of your pecs, start doing your pushups on a decline. If you're comfortable with regular pushups, try placing your feet on a weight bench or chair. For those just getting to grips with the exercise and still on the knee variation, however, placing your knees on a small step is a simpler introduction to decline pushups. According to ExRx.net, lower elevations recruit less of the clavicular head of the pecs - which is the upper portion - so don't place your feet or knees too high.
Work with Weight
Many people often use pushups for nothing more than a burn-out exercise at the end of a session, or stick to just body-weight reps - but pushups can play a much more important role in your routine. Building muscle and burning fat, or toning, requires you to consistently progress your exercises. An efficient way to do this with pushups is by adding weight. Strength coach Miguel Aragoncillo suggests weighted pushups, performed wearing a weighted vest, or with a weight plate or chains draped over your back.
Tips for Toning
Including pushup variations in your routine can help build muscle and strength in your lower pecs, but to get good muscle tone, you also need to reduce your body fat percentage. This can be achieved through lowering your calorie intake and increasing calorie expenditure through exercise. When planning your pec routine, look to perform pushups three times per week, picking a different variation for each session. In your first workout perform three sets of 15 to 20 reps, go for four sets of 10 to 12 in your next session two to three days later and finish the week with five sets of five to eight reps on your most challenging variation.