5 of the Best Exercises for your Upper Chest
When it comes to chest exercises, most people often jump straight into trying to get the biggest pecs possible. Usually, that means doing the standard massive weight exercises to get the best results. There’s actually way more to the pectoral group than just this, and a lot of it is in your upper chest in particular.
Your chest is made up of several different regions, and to maximise your results, you really need to be training them all. One of the least discussed areas is the upper chest. For some reason, the middle and lower areas of the chest seem to get the vast majority of our attention and effort. That isn't necessarily the best way to build, and a good upper chest workout is always a good call.
In light of this, we've put together some of the most hard-hitting upper chest exercises out there. These 5 are monsters of training, and they should really help to build up your chest as a whole. Your performance in other exercises should see a huge boost too. They're all well worth doing, alone or in an upper chest workout. Whatever works best for you!
Incline Chest press
First up, the incline chest press. This is more of a multipurpose chest exercise, but it's actually one of the best possible exercises for the upper chest. The incline means that you're working at a different angle and the weight needs to be moved upwards as well as outwards. This is because of the angle of the lift, as well as making you fight against gravity to keep the weight up throughout the exercise. The combination is the key.
It does involve the shoulders as well, though, but the upper chest is the most significantly involved area. You can do it with either a barbell or dumbbells depending on your preference too which is useful. Before you choose though, remember the involvement of stabilisation and supporting muscles does change depending on which you decide to go for, so think carefully.
Lay on your back on the weight bench with the intended equipment you are going to use safely in each hand. Start with an overhand grip on the weights, with your arms in front of you making a right angle at the elbow. Push forward, focusing on the chest as you do to get the best contraction you can.
Ensure your pectorals are contracted tightly at the top before you lower the weight back down. Make sure you do not bring your arms too low when bringing back down, stopping again to make a right angle at the elbows.
Incline press until your upper chest is screaming at you with this heavyweight monster.
Reverse Grip Bench Press
Going back to a flat bench, there are still ways to work the upper chest other than changing the angle involved. Using the reverse grip barbell chest press is absolutely one of them. Changing the grip of the bench press massively reduces the use for the shoulders in the exercise and utilises more work from the upper chest and the triceps. That makes it ideal for muscle variation without too much extra work.
The same mechanics as the exercise above take place here, but with a flat bench and the opposite grip. Hold the equipment with an underhand grip this time and extend the arms again to full contraction of the chest. Then, bring it back down to a near right angle in the arms.
Low to High Cable Flyes
The incline in this exercise is not in the equipment being used or the position of the body. Instead, it's in the actual movement of the resistance itself. Pulling the weight upwards means your upper chest gets a huge contraction, and that's what we need. Cable exercises are always good to mix things up, so make the most of it!
It's much safer than flyes that need a bench due to less of a risk being posed from overstretching, which is caused by gravity pulling the weights lower than you may have intended. It also allows you to really hit the pec group as a whole a lot harder without as much to worry about.
From a standing start and pulleys at either side of you, set to a low position, you're ready. Hold the handles with an underhanded grip and lift upwards and outwards until the two meet in the middle. Contract tightly and return to your starting position. Stop when you meet in the middle, and then lower the cables back down in a controlled way to keep time under tension high.
Don't buy a full cable machine to do cable flyes, use this simple resistance band set to get exactly the same effect!
Flyes can be dangerous if they are not done correctly and they can have a seriously negative impact on your rotator cuffs in later life. They're usually not ideal for any workout. For an upper chest exercise, however, this is not as true. As mentioned above, the introduction of an incline to the exercise changes the mechanic of it. In this case, the shoulders are far less at risk.
The activation that the upper chest does receive though is massive. It doesn’t require too much effort from supporting muscles either, which can often hinder your workout progress without you even knowing. The fly is an incredibly efficient method of overloading pec muscles specifically too, making it ideal for the upper chest. Your arms and shoulders won't hold you back.
With the bench at an incline and laying on your back, hold the dumbbells in each hand with a neutral grip. Hold the weights out to your sides with a slight bend in your arm and going no lower than your shoulders. Without changing the angle of your arms, bring the weights upwards until they meet in the middle, hold for a tight contraction, and slowly return to the starting position.
Finally, the decline push-up is also not an exercise worth forgetting in this workout, despite not having to utilise any equipment. With your feet elevated above the rest of your body, you are creating an inverse incline and using the same movement that you would be doing with an incline bench. that's the golden rule for your upper chest.
The difference is, you are doing a much more natural and balanced movement with your bodyweight alone. This way, you put less stress on your joints and don't rely as heavily on balancing the weight. That's another great way to boost performance and progress, even from home.
The decline push-up follows the same mechanics of the standard push up, but with legs elevated and hands on the floor. Lower yourself to the floor and extend your arms to push yourself back up to the starting position. That's about all there is to it! It's simple but effective
Overall, these exercises are all awesome for any upper chest workout. Don't neglect your lower chest either and make sure you stretch before your workouts to keep everything in order too though. Substitute them into your chest workout where you need to, or do them all together every once in a while to spice things up. Just don't forget your upper chest exercises!
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.