7 Upper Chest Exercises To Build Larger Pecs

Upper Chest Exercises

Building larger upper pecs is not as hard as you think with the right exercises.

If you have a chest workout that is ordered a bit like this with the exercises – flat bench press, incline bench press, decline press and flys then you have a pretty complete workout for your chest.

That doesn’t mean you will have complete chest development, say you do middle chest workouts when your energy levels are highest first then the maybe the upper and lower exercises on your chest will suffer as a result.

Many bodybuilders suffer with lagging upper and lower chests as they follow the ‘flat-bench first’ approach or it may just be genetic deficiencies which means greater effort must be put in to bring up their lagging areas.

If you are looking to gain more strength and size in your upper chest area then here are seven way to redress the weaknesses.

Upper chest exercises.

Mutiple upper body exercises are great for working the upper chest area.

1) Start With A Multi-Joint Upper Chest Workout

The simplest and easiest solution to improve upper pecs is to target them first on chest day, start with an inclined bench press instead of a flat one.

Flipping exercises means that you will be stronger and be able to lift a little more than normal or even do a few more reps, this will set upper chest muscle fibers on the road to gains.

Don’t be afraid to choose a more challenging weight on the incline when you get a bit stronger, nothing stalls gains more than picking a weight you can already easily handle for 3 sets of 10 reps, say you normally do sets of 8-10 reps, perform 2 sets after warming up of 6-8 reps on inclines.

Barbell or Dumbbell movements are most beneficial here as you will want to steer clear of machine exercises, much more muscle stimulus and muscle growth occurs with free weights.

Upper chest exercises

Time to leave the flat bench for something inclined to really workout your upper pecs.

2) Get Off A Fixed Bench

If you look more closely at inclined barbell bench press stations, the angle of the bench is typically fixed around 45 degrees (some benches are much steeper than that and will work the delts rather than the pecs), there is science to the exact angle to use when working the chest but you will find that you get a better overall upper chest development using a range of inclines on the bench.

Take a look at an adjustable incline bench, there are several settings on the bench for low, moderate and steep inclines, for building the best upper chest you will want to make use of many of those incline positions at some point.

The adjustable bench is best utilised with dumbbells or in the Smith machine. Do a variety of incline positions from set to set or workout to workout for slightly different targeting of the muscle fibers.

3) Perform A Seconds Upper Chest Exercise

A great way to target any lagging body part is to focus more exercises on it, you do not want to repeat what you did in the first move however.

Let’s just say you do sets of 8 reps of an incline barbell press, now it is time to move on to another movement, which one of these will put the most stress on the target muscle:

A: A Smith machine incline press on an adjustable bench set at the same angle as a fixed incline barbell press for 8 reps.

B: A dumbbell press on a lower degree of incline than what was used for the inclined fixed bench for sets of 10-12 reps.

hopefully you chose option B, you should always opt for changing the training stimulus to target the selected muscle in different ways. Choose different equipment, change bench angles and change-up your intensity. Doing a secondary upper chest workout is not enough unless all of these factors are taken into account.

Upper chest exercises

The time when you think you should quit is not the right time to quit.

4) Don’t Stop At Failure

Never fear muscle failure when trying to optimize muscle growth. When you drop a weight at 10 reps but could have maybe done another 5 more reps then this is not a true set of 10.

You should push beyond your limits with periods of lower  intensity training, this will break down additional muscle fibers and stimulate further muscle growth so long as only a few sets are taken past failure (Acute overtraining can happen if all sets are taken past this point), it is best to take 1 – 2 sets beyond failure, usually on the last of the heavy sets.

There are also plenty of very good advanced training techniques available when it comes to chest day, if you have a workout partner consider the following:

  • Forced Reps: Do as many reps as you can by yourself and then your partner steps in to barely assist you with shifting the weight upwards for a few more reps.
  • Negatives: As you reach muscle failure your partner provides great assistance to push the weight but you then take a full 5 seconds to lower it again, focus on the negative contraction. Do as many reps as possible until the negative can no longer be controlled, this technique works best on barbell and most machine movements rather than dumbbells.

Here are two to try if you do not have a training partner:

  • Rest-Pause Clusters: Choose a weight that can be lifted for 7-8 reps, do only 3-4 reps and put the weight back. Rest for 20 seconds and then perform another 3-4 reps, string together 4-5 work segments with 20 seconds of rest in between and you end up with 15 reps on a weight you only normally do 7-8 reps on, this is best done with machines that easily allow you to get in and out of the start position.
  • Dropsets: When you do reach failure, rather than dropping the weight, drop the poundage by approximately 25% and continue the set to another muscle failure. Pin-loaded machines, cables and dumbbells are best for this. Make sure to have the right weights in place before starting the set.
Upper chest exercises

Time to get a second chest day going to strengthen the lagging area up.

5) Consider A Second Chest Day

If you work with an intermediate or advanced training split whereby you work each body part at least once every 5 days or more, a second chest workout can be added into the split so long as you are careful how you insert it.

For the short-term, say no more than about 6-8 weeks, a second chest day really allows focus on a lagging area, you don’t want to be repeating the same chest workout you did a few days earlier, the second set can differ in many ways like target rep ranges, intensity boosters, rest periods etc.

If following this approach, the setup is critical, any ‘push’ muscle groups should not be trained back to back so ample recovery time can occur. A poorly constructed split might be chest on day one, shoulders and back on day two, arms and legs on day three, chest on day four etc.

Put in at least 48 hours between workouts to really tax your push muscles – chest, shoulders, triceps to better optimize your growth. A sample split with a secondary chest workout may be chest and triceps on day one, back and biceps on day two, rest on day three, chest and shoulders on day four, legs on day five, rest on day six and so forth.

Upper chest exercises

The perfect upper chest workout will really help you pick up the area thats struggling.

6) Try Out New ‘Upper Pec’ Movements

Upper Chest Movements are very important to hit those upper pec fibers so assuming you are familiar with basic upper-chest movements here are a few more to consider:

  • Semi-Inclined Bench Press: Can be done with dumbbells or on the Smith machine, performing the presses with in-between angles on an adjustable bench pulls in new life to an old workout.
  • Incline Machine Press: Use machines you don’t normally favour instead of the usual. If the gym has a Hammer Strength chest machine whereby each arm moves independently, sit sideways on the unit, brace yourself with a free hand and press across your body.
  • Single-Joint Incline Fly: It is more than likely you already do a single joint exercise in with your workout but make it one that focuses more on the upper pecs. Cable crossovers from the lower pulleys are a good one, incline-bench cable flyes and incline bench dumbbell flyes.
  • Reverse Grip Bench Press: A flat-bench barbell press with a reverse grip shifts the focus onto the upper pecs, begin lightly and make sure your thumbs are hooked round the bar.
  • Incline-Bench Pullovers: Do pullovers on an incline bench instead of flat, perform 3 sets of 12 reps, holding the last rep for a 5 second isometric to feel the burn.
Upper chest exercises

Do your chest workout after a good rest day eating cleanly.

7) Do A Chest Workout After Rest Day

One last good tip I can give is target the lagging body part after a rest day of eating clean and prepare your mind to move some iron, being tired before the gym is not going to give you the greatest workout overall.

Some pre-workout supplements can increase workout intensity and focus, getting a good nights sleep and eating right are much more important.

In Closing….

If your upper pecs on your chest are lagging, simply follow these 7 exercises to be on the road to improvement in no time.

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