Strength Training

Unlock Your Upper Chest Development with These Targeted Workouts

How to Target the upper chest

If you want larger and stronger upper chest muscles, it’s time to focus on the exercises that produce real results.  Below we list the best exercises to focus on to help you achieve this goal.

Incline Press

As one of the most compounded chest movements, the incline press will help you move the most amount of weight at the beginning of your chest workout.

Lay on the incline bench and grab the bar just outside of your shoulder width. Make sure your wrists seem to be punching the sky, not palming the sky.

Push the bar up and roll your shoulders back, focusing on retracting your scapula. Then, drive your elbows down to about a 70-degree angle, push back up, and repeat.

Dumbbell Incline Press

The dumbbell incline press allows for a greater range of motion and focuses more intensely on chest development when compared to the incline press.

Complete your dumbbell incline press the same as you would a regular incline press, except that when you push upward, bring the two dumbbells together to get a full chest contraction. Focus on squeezing your pecs together without locking your elbows.

Low to High Cable Fly

Grab the cable handles from the lowest height and step forward. The step is vital to putting tension on your pec muscles. Make sure your arms are still at your side and not flared behind you to avoid shoulder tension. Also, focus on keeping your shoulders rolled back.

Take your elbows and bring them up and across your body. Aim for your hands to finish right below your chin, bring them back to the starting position, and repeat. Your arms should be straight – but not locked – during the entire rep.

Incline Bench Cable Fly

Place an inclined bench between the two cables. Grab the cable handles, lay back on the bench, and roll your shoulders back and down. Next, extend your arms straight out from the sides of your body to the starting position. You should feel some tension in your chest.

Start with your elbows slightly bent down and then move them upwards, bringing them as close together as possible. Bring the elbows back down and repeat. Remember: you are not bringing your hands together. Your elbows should be extended and the focal point of this movement.

Dumbbell Close Press

Complete this exercise at the end of your workout. Grab two dumbbells, lay on an incline bench, and bring the dumbbells together overhead. Roll your shoulders back and down.

Focus on pressing the weights together as you lower them to one inch above your chest, and then raise them back up. Remember to push the weights together during the entire movement. By pressing both inward and up and down, you’ll focus on exercising the upper portion of your chest.

What Are the Muscles in the Chest?

The four main pectoral muscles in the chest are the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, subclavius, and serratus anterior.

The pectoralis major is the dominant muscle in the chest. It is the muscle that covers the primary part of your chest, expanding across your upper ribs to your upper clavicle and inserting into the humorous bone. It is composed of the clavicular head and sternocostal head.

The pectoralis minor originates on the third, fourth, and fifth ribs, underneath the pectoralis major, and finishes at the scapula.

The subclavius originates in the cartilage of the first rib and inserts into the clavicle.

The serratus anterior starts at the surface of the upper eight ribs, and moves through your side and to your back, inserting into the scapula.

What Do the Chest Muscles Do?

Chest muscles are vital for moving your arms across your body and up and down. They help with adduction, flexion, and rotation.

The pectoralis major produces shoulder flexion, shoulder depression, shoulder adduction, and the medial rotation of the arm.

The pectoralis minor is used for shoulder depression and shoulder stabilization.

The subclavius depresses the clavicle, stabilizes the shoulder girdle during movements of the sternoclavicular joint, and elevates the first rib.

The serratus anterior helps with shoulder protraction, the active stabilization of the scapula in the shoulder joint, and shoulder abduction above 90 degrees.

Why Is a Strong Chest Important?

A strong chest helps with good posture, flexion, and the rotation and adduction of the arms. Larger muscles, such as the chest, help to burn more calories as they handle more weight.

Why Do Men Have Larger Chest Muscles than Women?

Men have a higher level of testosterone in their bodies compared to women, which prevents breast tissue from expanding. This same hormone allows for more muscle mass accumulation and strength in a man compared to a woman with less testosterone.

Why Is My Upper Chest Weak?

Signs of a weak chest include lifting your shoulders as you bench press, trailing shoulders during a push-up, a high overhead press record compared to a low bench press record, and a struggle to push a bench press past the middle position of your rep.

Your upper chest could be weak because of poor mind-muscle connection or poor form during your workouts.

Increasing your mind-muscle connection will allow you to emphasize certain muscles as you work out. You can practice this by being more intentional with your workouts, focusing on the contraction and feelings of a specific muscle or muscle group.

Poor form, on the other hand, usually happens when your incline bench is set up too high. Your form should also focus on retracting and depressing your shoulders, slightly arching your back, flexing your glutes, and placing your feet flat on the ground.

Why Is the Upper Chest Difficult to Build?

The chest muscles are difficult to build as they are some of the largest muscles on the body. Exercises that focus on the chest typically have a small range of motion, making this area slow to grow.

Some things that may prevent your chest from building are:

  • Poor form when bench pressing
  • Only focusing on the bench press without adding more chest-specific exercises
  • Genetics
  • Overtraining, causing shoulders and triceps to take over
  • A small rep range that does not encourage muscle hypertrophy

Remember to focus on your form, incorporate chest-specific exercises into your routine, and increase your reps to adequately build your chest muscles.

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About Kim Dyte

I joined Kustom Kit in 2015 as the sales and marketing manager. Having lifted weights for most of my life and competing in the UKBFF Federation I wanted to share my knowledge to help others lift weights and stay healthy

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