First if you came here you are in the right place! Upper chest is the key for getting a square even chest, why?
Because the upper chest is a tenacious little muscle that for most people just refuses to grow. I was so close to give up but I am a tenacious little monkey myself and I didn’t give up on building a nice massive chest that starts from my neck.
There are a lot of trainers and forum advisers that will tell you that this is genetic and there is nothing to do if you don’t have the right genes, well they are WRONG!
Everyone could do it but it’s not easy as if you were gifted with incredible genes. Don’t forget that some people can’t grow their back, shoulders and even legs. And if you have those or most of those muscles fully developed you need to put more effort and focus on your chest and to be specific your upper chest!
I’ve been messing around with weights for 5 years now and I’ve done all the mistakes that I see people doing in the gym, Hell you can be motivated as a bull and develop an unbalanced body because some muscles are easy to develop and some are just not responding as much.
I’m going to dedicate this site for guys like me that having trouble developing their upper chest, but even if you have a nice upper chest you can find some useful workouts and exercises that will make your chest drop jaws.
In order to build any muscle we will need to work out, eat and rest. That is not easy as it sounds for building a great upper chest muscle because you need the right formula among these variables just like the Coca Cola formula.
I will break it down for you a little more:
- Targeted Upper Chest Exercises.
- Doing the Upper Chest Exercises Properly.
- Weights, Sets and Rest.
- Eating the Right Food at the Right Time.
- Using the Right Supplements.
- Drinking Water.
- Balanced Rest Between Upper Chest Workouts.
- Upper Chest Recovery.
- Sleep to give your Upper Chest time to grow.
It may sound like a lot of trouble but it’s really don’t, you just need to put more effort on your upper chest instead of making your chest look like monster boobs if you keep putting all your time and strength at the Flat Bench Press.
Part 1 – Workout
Advanced Upper Chest Exercises
Upper Chest Mass Building Exercises
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
This Exercise is overlooked and don’t get the variety your upper chest needs. You should do this at 15,30,45,60 and 75 degrees!! When doing this at high degrees you should concentrate on your chest and avoid hitting the shoulders, When the 75 degrees done right it’s really pumps the neck/upper chest meet point.
- Incline Barbell Bench Press
This Exercise is the most famous for mass building upper chest, if you were using it incorrectly your upper chest isn’t fully developed because your front shoulders are doing most of the work and getting most of the credit and most of the muscle growth. If you were using it and got no results put it aside for a while and try the other exercises.
- Reverse Grip Bench Press
This NEW exercise is a great way for targeting the upper chest without the shoulders interfering in the middle, you should do it with lighter weight because you are not used to it and it’s harder than the regular incline bench press.
- Hammer Grip Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
What’s great about this exercise is that it targets the middle side of the upper chest with less shoulder intervention making it good for overall mass upper chest builder. Not all gyms have this machine so if yours don’t have it you can use dumbbells and change the grip and imitate the machine movement.
- Barbell Neck Press (Aka Guillotine Press)
This Exercise is great for stimulation of the top upper chest muscle fibers, go with lighter weight because it is harder than what you use to lift. You can use here flat angle or low incline angle as well.
Upper Inner Chest Exercises:
- Incline Dumbbell Squeeze Press
This one is extremely important for your inner upper chest, also some of the work is going to your triceps you should always incorporate this in many incline angle variation.
- Close Grip Incline Barbell Bench Press
This exercise work on the same principle like the Squeeze Press, although it’s harder to implement but its worth it for the variation which is the key to upper chest muscle growth, don’t bring your hands too close, a 10 inches space between your hands its close enough.
- Cable Crossover – Low To High
This one is very important, it focuses on the inner upper part of your chest like no other, here you can also use many variations, put the cables on the lowest settings and lift from the outside to the upper inside, I also use a variation with getting the cables from the outside to the inside and only then lift them up.
- Butterfly Low Seated
This one is pretty simple just do the old butterfly with your seat set on lower than what you normally set it.
Stretch and Wide Upper Chest Exercises:
- Incline Dumbbell Fly
This exercise is good for stretching and making your upper chest muscle wide and flexible.
- Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover
This one is a good stretch for getting your upper chest longer.
Doing the Upper Chest Exercises Properly
Doing this upper chest exercise the right way is crucial to progress and you shouldn’t skip this step! It’s really simple, I’ll break it down for you:
- Work Slowly
Forget about pushing fast and don’t drop the weight as you go down, 2-3 seconds for going up and same for going down. Remember the negative movement is an integral part of the exercise and you are only doing half of the work.
You should be extremely careful with pulling exercises on the upper chest like the cable crossover low to high, fast movements can strain your upper pec muscle.
- Full Movement
You should go as lower as you can and as higher as you can and make a long distance movement, don’t go far and beyond till you can’t complete your set because you touched the floor and get those dumbbells up.
- Mind Muscle Connection
This little curse means that you need to concentrate on the muscle you want to work on and it will happen, why?
Because you make little movements and twitches in order to hit the right spot. Beginners at lifting will have more difficulty at this but if you work slow and with full movement you will have that upper chest connection because it is very easy to work on your front deltoids, believe me I’ve done it a lot at the Incline bench press and got nice shoulders and no upper chest!
Weights, Sets and Rest
You need to go heavy, stop with the 12 reps routine and get down to business, if you want your upper chest muscle to grow you’ve got to hit it hard!
In order to do that you will have to do 6 reps on the heaviest weight that will get you to fail on your 7th attempt. Because we have many angle variations in this workout you need to do 3 sets of 6 reps for every exercise. That means you can do 2 exercises of the Incline dumbbells press at 2 angles.
The rest between exercises and sets is simple, rest as much as you need in order to complete the next exercise because you will be working with 6 reps you will need to rest a little bit more if you are not used to it. If you want a magic number than mine its 2 minutes.
Part 2 – Nutrition
Eating the Right Food at the Right Time
That part is where many trainers make their mistakes so let’s make it simple again or at least try. I like to train after I’ve eaten 2 small meals or 1 big meal where the last meal should be 3 hours before my workout because I don’t want my food to say hello during my workout and I need to be energized with carbs, some trainers don’t need that but I do, So you need to test yourself if after 40 minutes you either can’t move or you are tired or your head is spinning than you haven’t eaten enough!
After your workout you will need a fast absorbing protein like the whey protein and some simple carbs like banana to help your upper chest begin its building process. 1-2 hours after your workout you should eat a complete meal to continue the muscle growing phase. Before bad you can eat some high protein and low carbs meal, if you are skinny you can go crazy with carbs every time you want. Remember you need to listen to your body and your stomach.
Using the Right Supplements
While I’m not a big fan of supplements as I once was, I tried every trick thinking it will make my muscles grow while I wasn’t focusing on the important things like workouts and food. This supplements are making your muscle building easier:
A must for muscle building while some trainers will find it hard to come by because of their poor eating habits like myself I find it easy to take a protein shake between meals and before I go to sleep to help my muscle grow.The most important use of a protein shake its of course after a workout when you need a fast absorbing protein like the whey protein which hard to replace with solid meal.
Pre Workout Booster
When you train with the pre workout supplement you get extra powers for a while but after a while it’s not making any difference because your body is smart and it’s adjusting to the new ingredient in its system. So what you should do it’s save it only for your upper chest workout and don’t use it in your other workouts because you need to put more focus on your difficult part to develop. That way your body will react to the booster more efficiently when you need it the most.
This supplement is over rated for my point of view, I only use 1/3 of the daily recommended dose before I go to sleep because that’s when my body will start to build muscle and I want to give it all it needs if I forgot to eat something important that day.
I recommend using Optimen by Optimum Nutrition.
This seems very simple but that’s why it may be forgotten and overlooked, you HAVE to drink a lot of water hours before your workout because if you don’t you can end up standing in the line of the cooler after every exercise you do, which means your body is not hydrated enough and it’s will make your workout less effective cause you will be tired and lift less weight which will not trigger the upper chest in the best way.
You should also continue drinking throughout your entire workout to keep your body hydrated.
If you are having a problem with drinking large amounts of water like I do there is a solution for this: Flavored brand chained amino acids (BCAA) like Xtend, which will give you a better taste to your drink.
Part 3 – Rest & Recovery
Balanced Rest between Upper Chest Workouts
For me the upper chest muscle is not reacting like every other muscle so why treat him the same. I’m giving my upper chest only 4 days’ rest, If you are feeling that you can’t especially in the beginning you always should listen to your body and wait one or two more days.
Upper Chest Recovery
If your upper chest muscle is sore days after your upper chest workout and you can’t really train it as often then you want there are things you can do to fix that.
It’s called Active Recovery and what it means that you work on your upper chest muscle at low intensity, I found swimming chest version as the best upper chest recovery method and I swim day after my upper chest workout when I can barely lift my hands I wake up the next day with almost no soreness in my upper chest muscle.
If you don’t have access to a swimming pool you can do pushups at home with variations, I use my bed to make the push-ups more upper chest targeted but the important thing is high volume here, don’t kill yourself you should do more than 20 reps for each set. Two or three sets it’s enough just don’t forget variation in the angels and hands position, close and wide grips.
If your upper chest muscle is not sore but you can’t complete your upper chest workout because your upper chest is failing and not fully recovered you can try low intensity upper chest workout which means you do the same exercises only with lighter weight and higher reps (something like 15), this will help your upper muscle fibers and make your upper chest more active and ready for the next heavy workout.
We are working on the basic biological principle that we need to send blood to our muscle in order to get things move faster like muscle building, it is the same principle that happens when you get injured and your injured body part get swollen, why is that? because your body pumps blood to that area to fix it. that’s what we want to do.
Sleep to Give your Upper Chest Time to Grow
After all your hard work you need to sleep at least 8 hours at night, I personally love to sleep 9 hours or more when I can, If you can’t get that amount try training the upper chest workout close to the weekend so you will sleep more.
Part 4 – The Upper Chest Workout
*. All mass building exercises should be done with 3 sets of 6 reps with the heaviest weight possible.
*. All upper inner chest exercises should be done in 3 sets within the range of 6-8 reps.
*. All stretching exercises should be done in 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
*. The Order of the exercises matters! We want to start with mass building cause that is our main goal and we will need all the power at startup, after that we go with the inner upper chest routines and than we end with the stretches.
2 Exercises of Incline Dumbbells Press (3×6 each exercise)
A must for every upper chest routine, each time choose a different angle, don’t forget to take the bench up to 75 degrees. You can do one exercise with the barbell if you really can’t leave without it.
Reverse Grip Bench Press / Hammer Grip Incline Dumbbell Bench Press (3×6)
Alternate between this two if you have a hammer machine at your gym.
Barbell Neck Press (3×6-8)
Alternate between Flat and low incline this Guillotine Press.
Incline Dumbbell Squeeze Press / Close Grip Incline Barbell Bench Press (3×6-8)
I recommend to use the squeeze press more often but it’s all about what you prefer.
Cable Crossover – Low to High (3×6-8)
A MUST in every routine because it doesn’t have any replacement in the way it targets on upper pecs.
Butterfly Low Seated (3×6-12)
Optional. If you still have any power left you can add this one, if not try to insert it with low weights and higher volume when you can.
Incline Dumbbell Flies / Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover (3×8-12)
Again Alternation is the key for those stretching exercises.
- If you finished this workout and feel you can lift more than by all means do so, pick one exercise or angle you didn’t do and kill it, just listen to your body
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If you have any questions I’ll be glad to answer, just leave a comment below..