Do you want to work on your physique? Are you admiring bodybuilders and their flawless pecs? Or do you just want to work on your strength training to improve your health? No matter the answer, upper chest workout are the way to go. The problem? They’re really not all that easy!
It takes a lot of time, persistence, and the correct approach to training in order to develop your upper chest muscles. However, it’s definitely worth it. Developing your upper chest not only makes your physique look better. It also has functional benefits, such as greater body strength.
How do you effectively work out the upper chest? These workouts no longer have to be a mystery. We’re here to guide you through the best upper chest exercises!
Why is it Important To Not Skip The Upper Chest Day?
Many aspiring bodybuilders, in their quest for that ripped sixpack, forget how important it is to develop all of the areas of the body at a similar rate. Weightlifting alone will get you very far in terms of strength but it won’t necessarily develop your entire body in a consistent way.
Skipping upper chest workouts means that while you may have strength in your arms and shoulders, you will lack it in the chest area. This makes lifting or doing presses a lot more difficult than it has to be.
Another thing that this affects is, unsurprisingly, your general physique. Working out every part of your body ensures an even distribution of muscle. If your shoulders and abs are tight and amazingly shaped, a neglected chest will stand out like a sore thumb.
With all that said, if it’s so important to not neglect the upper chest area, why do so many people do?
Upper chest workout exercises are some of the most difficult workouts
The experts openly say that the upper region of the chest is the hardest part of the chest to build. It’s easier to develop the middle part of the chest and the lower part of the chest. Yes, getting a sixpack is still quite a feat, but those exercises are easier than a good upper chest workout. This is due to the fact that the majority of chest muscle fibers are oriented in the direction used in common exercises, such as a flat bench press.
Unfortunately, there are fewer muscle fibers of the chest that insert into the clavicle. While they are still involved in humerus adduction, it’s all about the angle at which the humerus is brought across your body that targets the upper chest.
Long story short — the upper chest takes a while to build, and unfortunately, many resources do not do a good job at guiding people towards a ripped chest. If you’ve been trying for a while and not seeing any results, you may have been advised to do the wrong workouts.
Can You Really Target the Upper Chest?
Another thing the skeptics will tell you is that it’s impossible to really target the upper chest. Why do people say that? Because when you are weight training and working on your pectorals, every exercise you do contracts the entire muscle. In layman’s terms, you can’t do a push-up and only target the upper chest, leaving other muscles disengaged.
This brings people to question whether it is possible to specifically target the upper chest. If every move you make creates a full pec contraction, what is the point of focusing down on just the upper pecs?
Don’t believe the naysayers. There are ways to target your upper pecs specifically. The truth is that the upper portion of the pectoral muscles has a different innervation of the nerve, compared to the lower parts of the pecs. Because of that, it is possible to target that area. The muscles in the upper pecs, although they are a part of the pectoralis major, still act as a separate muscle.
If you used to perform exercises more suited to lower pecs, such as the decline bench press, then the lower pecs were activated while the upper pecs stayed mostly dormant. The upper pectoral muscles are responsible for things such as flexion and adduction of the shoulders and arms, so to truly activate those muscles, you have to perform specific movements.
Any and all upper chest workouts also hit the lower chest, developing those muscles alongside them. The main difference is that in an upper chest workout, you will target primarily the upper chest while some of the pressure will still be applied to other parts of your chest.
All you need to do is focus specifically on your upper pecs. But how do you do that? By doing the right kinds of exercise. Let’s get down to business and get you on a path to consistent upper chest exercises.
How Do I Build My Upper Chest?
The best and only surefire way to build your upper chest is through exercise that targets those muscles. These exercises engage, recruit, and activate the upper pecs. To activate these regions of your body, you need to train your brain to consciously work these muscles, because they are not always triggered by exercise alone.
In order to truly engage these muscles, you need to do things such as lift your shoulders towards your ears or pulling your chest together. This ensures that the upper chest is targeted as much as it can be.
Keep in mind that variety is important. It’s not enough to perform just one upper chest workout and call it a day, because your muscles get used to that specific movement and the strain placed on them is lower and lower with each session. Instead, you should alternate between several workouts — this gives the best results.
There are many exercises out there that help you work on your upper chest, and that is exactly what we are going to talk about below.
How To Warm Up For Upper Chest Exercise?
As with any form of exercise, warm-up plays a crucial part in an upper chest routine. There are ways to warm up during your pre-exercise that will make your workout more successful, efficient, and most of all, safer.
The best warm-ups for upper chest workout exercises are:
- Wide-grip flat push-ups
- Decline push-ups
- Neutral grip push-ups
Of course, don’t neglect the basic warm-up that you perform before every exercise session.
What is The Best Exercise For The Upper Vhest?
The time has come to learn some of the best upper chest workout solutions the experts have to offer. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be so worth it! Keep reading to pick your future exercise routine.
Incline dumbbell bench press/Incline barbell bench press
This is one of the best upper chest workout exercises as well as the most commonly used exercises of the upper chest. An incline bench press effectively targets the upper chest muscles while simultaneously developing the lower chest and shoulders.
In order to perform an incline bench press, you will need an adjustable bench. Begin by setting your bench at an incline, as this will help engage the upper chest muscles. Pull your shoulders together as described above (towards your ears). Maintain an incline of about 30-60 degrees, as anything steeper than that will swap the pressure from the upper chest towards the shoulders.
Your palms should always be facing each other, and your arms should be positioned at shoulder width apart. Rotate your wrists in the direction of the ceiling. Make sure to exhale when you push the dumbbells upwards and do not lose your control. Don’t lower the weights too quickly. Not only is this unsafe, but it also lowers the effectiveness of the exercise.
If you prefer, you can use a barbell or dumbbell for this exercise. However, dumbbells are preferable, as using them allows you to eliminate the majority of the shoulder strain, resulting in a focus on the upper chest.
Incline cable fly
This exercise does a great job of isolating the muscles in your upper chest. With a strong focus on the upper chest muscles, it helps you build your pecs. As you use cables instead of dumbbells, the tension in your upper chest is constant. With dumbbells, you cannot achieve such lasting tension due to the motion curve that doesn’t consider gravity.
In your exercise routine, you shouldn’t place these as the first ones in line. Do the incline cable fly after you have performed heavy exercises, such as a barbell bench press or a dumbbell bench press. This one is a lot less fatiguing on your central nervous system and it is a good way to cool off after a strenuous session.
To properly perform an incline cable fly, you should position your training bench at around 45 degrees. Lower the cables in an arc motion. If you feel the exercise in your chest & it’s effective, it should produce a stretching sensation. Make sure to contract & hold your muscles when you bring your hands together.
You can always vary the position of the bench, as this will help you hit different parts of your upper chest.
Incline hammer strength machine
If you are able to go to the gym or you’ve got one of these at home, it’s a real powerhouse when it comes to strength training. This exercise machine will let you perform lots of different workouts. The machine was designed to only target the upper chest, so everything you do on this machine counts towards your goal.
The incline hammer strength machine also leaves less room for form breakdown. If you will fail a repetition, you can lower the machine back down without hurting yourself in any way. This makes this strength machine a fantastic accessory for the barbell bench press or the dumbbell bench press.
In order to make the most of your workout, adjust the seat height so that the bar levels with your chest. Next, dig your shoulder blades hard into the seat and consciously push out your chest muscles. You should exhale while you push the bar forward. When you stop, hold the contraction for as long as you can.
It’s worth noting that the incline hammer strength machine can be used if you are recovering after an injury. It’s one of the safest ways to train your upper body.
Cable crossovers are great for stretching your pectoral muscles located in the upper chest region. It also creates stress on the outer pec muscle fibres. In order to efficiently train your upper pecs, you should set the position of the pulleys to the lowest possible setting.
This exercise only requires a cable crossover machine, so no extra prep is needed. The downside? These machines are only found at gyms, so unless you have a home gym, you’ll have to head out.
In order to perform one of these best upper chest workout, grab both the pulley rods with a grip that reaches overhead. Your palms need to face your body and your elbows need to remain bent at around 90-degrees.
Face away from the machine, place one foot ahead of the other, and begin leaning forward. Next, extend your arms in order to straighten them. This will push both the pulleys forward.
When you return to the starting position, move your arms back to your sides. This is done by bending the elbows. That concludes the single rep.
Decline push up
A decline pushup is a chest exercise that works on many of your chest muscle groups, such as the pectoralis major. They are often used as a start before your regular upper pec routine, but they also do the job well all on their own. There are many variations of this exercise: conventional push-ups, diamond push-ups, incline push-ups, decline push-ups, and more. This variant, the decline push up, is a great way to work not just your upper chest but also to activate your deltoids.
All you need to perform this exercise is a bench or a chair. We recommend doing 3 sets of 15 reps each, so this will be one of your most repped exercises.
Begin by standing facing away from your bench or your chair. Leave a few feet of distance between you and the bench. Next, move towards a plank position by placing your palms down on the floor. Keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Continue by locking your elbows and your knees, and then, one after another, take your feet up on the bench.
Slowly and carefully do a push up in that position. Do this by bending the elbows until your chest is almost brushing the ground. Lastly, push your chest away from the ground. That’s it! You’ve done a decline push up.
Landmine chest press
This may not be the most popular upper chest workout routine, but it provides a lot of benefits in terms of how fast it helps you progress your upper pecs. You can perform it while standing. Exercising while standing up increases core involvement, improves core stability, and strengthens your abdominal muscles.
You can also perform this exercise using unilaterally, using just one arm at a time. This technique can be used to increase the focus on each side of your chest pecs.
Some people actually perform the landmine chest press as part of their cardiovascular circuit through the use of high-repetitions. A jump is often added to the routine in those cases. Alternatively, this can be used as a strength and hypertrophy exercise if you use a lower volume.
Remember to hold your spine in a neutral manner throughout the entire movement. Stiffening up may cause an injury. You should be exhaling while pushing and inhaling when you return to the starting position. At the top of the movement, contract the pectoral muscle to achieve the best results.
How Many Sets & Reps Should I Perform?
If you haven’t really worked on your upper chest workout routine before, you will need to work your way up before you are able to perform many sets and reps in a row. However, the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be seeing great results.
To begin with, you should choose 2 or 3 of the aforementioned exercises. Perform one of them at the very beginning of your chest workout, then the next one or two later on in the routine. If you’re not a beginner and your upper chest is well developed, you should pick one or two exercises and switch them up every now and then for variety’s sake.
The ideal values for a beginner are:
- Incline cable flies: 3-5 sets x 6-12 reps
- Incline barbell press, incline bench press or dumbbell press: 2-4 sets x 5-10 reps
- Landmine chest press: 3-5 sets x 6-12 reps
- Incline hammer strength machine: 2-4 sets x 5-10 reps
- Decline push up: 3 sets x 15 reps
- Cable crossover: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
How Can I Hit My Upper Chest At Home?
If you’re looking to bulk up, you will notice that a lot of guides will tell you to simply hit the gym. It’s true that not many of us can afford to have a home gym at our own perusal. It’s also true that many upper chest routines involve the use of gym equipment, such as the landmine chest press or the incline hammer strength machine. Fortunately, there are also alternatives that can safely be performed at home.
For example, exercises such as decline push-ups can be done at home without any fuss. Simply substitute an exercise bench with something like a chair, a bench, a table, or a bed. However, if you want some variety and maximum success with your training, you need to expand your horizons.
Below, we will describe some upper chest workout that can be done at home.
While a regular push-up doesn’t strictly target your upper pecs, it develops your entire chest, shoulder, and back area. It can also be done anywhere with as many reps as you like. Even if you’re not doing it specifically for your upper chest, you should never neglect push-ups.
Incline push-ups replace an incline bench press can be done at home just as well as they can be done at the gym and they are the staple of chest workouts that help develop your chest muscles. An exercise bench is nice to have, but it’s by no means a necessity. You can pick any piece of furniture in your home that meets your needs. Your starting position should involve a smaller incline and then you work your way down. Just make sure that the furniture you’re pushing against is steady and will not break.
Time under tension push-ups
Even more push-ups! It’s true that this exercise is one of the best ways to develop your upper chest. You may feel inclined to do as many push-ups as possible in as short a time as you can, but that’s not necessarily the best way to go about it.
The stress you apply to your muscles as you simply hover in the air, maintaining proper form during a timed push-up, cannot be replaced. Lower yourself down very slowly and then push back up at the same pace — your muscles will feel it.
Working on your upper body is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only will you look great, but also you will feel a noticeable difference in your strength levels. With a developed upper chest, you will be able to lift, throw, and climb more efficiently.
Many personal trainers neglect to stress the importance of upper chest workout. If that’s your personal trainer, it might be time for a change. Do what’s best for you and get started today — you’ll see the results in no time at all!