The upper chest is one of those often neglected areas of the body, but if trained in the right way, it can transform the look of your upper body. We have compiled a list of the best exercises for upper chest, full of information, including how to do each exercise in detail and the benefits of each one.
This list was compiled based on the exercises that will give you the best opportunities maximum strength and size.
The chest muscle is made up of two muscles, the Pectoralis Major and the Pectoralis minor. The Pectoralis Major, consists of the Sternocostal Head (mid and lower chest) and the Clavicular Head (upper chest). The muscle fibers in them travel at different angles to each other, therefore they have to be worked in a different way in order to make sure you are properly overloading both parts of the muscle.
A lot of people will do 3-4 sets of flat bench, maybe some flys and then maybe use the chest press machine and give up. I have seen it time and time again.
If you want to build a complete chest to be proud of, you will need to incorporate a couple of these into your workout. For a real test, you could even try a circuit.
Incline bench press is a great exercise for building that upper chest. You will want to set the bench at an angle of between 15-30 degrees at most, anything more and you will start activating your deltoids instead of your pectorals.
This is done exactly the same as a flat bench press, just at a different angle.
Lay on the bench, holding the bar at just wider than shoulder width. Push the bar until your arms are fully extended, then lower back down until the bar nearly touches your chest.
A good tip for maximising gains on the bench press is to imagine you are instead trying to push yourself away from the bar, pushing your back into the bench whilst concentrating on the squeeze in your chest muscles. That mind muscle connection is very important in every single one of these exercises.
Take a look at this video which shows what good form looks like.
Flyes are another exercise that you cannot do with out when it comes to building that upper chest as they work the muscle in a completely different way compared to presses.
To do the Low to high cable fly:
You will need a double cable machine, put both cables in the lowest possible position on the rack, using the same or similar attachments to the one shown in the below video.
Start with your arms down by your sides, holding the grips, with your palms facing inwards towards your body.
Pull the cables, keeping your arms stiff, but slightly bent, up and away from your chest, to just below shoulder height.
Pause for 2 seconds and focus on that squeeze in the middle and upper chest.
Return your arms to the original position in a smooth, controlled manner.
Take a look at this video below which shows good form for Low to high cable flyes
Landmine rainbows work the muscle fibers of the upper chest in a very different way from presses and conventional flyes. Combining all 3 exercises into a routine will allow for maximal exhaustion of the muscle group.
Start by holding the end of the barbell in both hands down to the left hand side of your body, with the weight resting on the lower hand. Raise the bar up as high as you can get it in an arc or rainbow movement and efficiently swap the weight onto the other hand, bringing the bar back down to the right hand side of the body.
That is one rep.
Repeat this until you have completed the desired amount of reps.
The video below shows this in perfect form.
As the name gives away, the incline DB hex press is another dumbbell press, but with a bit of a twist. With your hands facing inwards and pressing the weights together, this hits the muscles in a different way compared to your standard bench press.
Start by laying on a inclined bench set at about 30 degrees.
Bring the weights to your chest, palms facing each other so that the weights are touching each other.
Push to the top, avoiding fully locked straight arms, wait a second and then slowly bring the weights back down to your chest.
This is one rep. Continue for as many reps as required.
Take a look at the below video for an idea of what good form looks like for this exercise:
Dips… you either love them or you hate them right? As difficult as dips may be, they are a great exercise, and they don’t only work the upper chest. You will also be hitting the anterior deltoids, triceps, rhomboids, lats and your Teres major.
Start by positioning yourself in an upright position on some dip bars.
To target your upper chest, lean slightly forward and flare your elbows out so that they are not as tight to your sides as they would be if you were doing regular dips targeting your triceps.
Then lower your body down to a right angle, making sure you don’t go any lower, as this can lead to strains and injuries in your shoulders and rotator cuffs.
The below video demonstrates perfect form with dips.
Decline pushups are a brilliant way to absolutely exhaust your upper chest.
The great thing about this exercise is that you are moving your whole upper body throughout a constantly changing angle, so again, it works your chest in a completely different way to all of the rest mentioned so far. At the bottom end of the press you may be pushing at a 45 degree angle and by the time you get to the top you may be at 90 degrees.
They are performed in the same manner as a normal pushup except you rest your feet on some form of raised platform.
A good tip is to try multiple sets, each time raising your feet to a higher angle until you get to a maximum of about 45 degrees while at the bottom of the pushup.
All of the above exercises are great for building a massive, strong upper chest. Now you just need to decide how much weight and volume to do, depending on your goals. If you want to find out more about how to build muscle check out some of our training and nutrition articles, or if you want some ready made workouts, click here, we have you covered
My name is Gary and I run All About The Gains.
I am a qualified PT and have been training for 17 years. I have been involved in lots of disciplines from bodybuilding to boxing, functional training to kettlebells, running, Jiu Jitsu and H.I.I.T. I am currently a member of GB top team - an M.M.A gym in south London.
I have spent the last 15 years extensively researching topics on diet and supplements, muscle building, exercise and biomechanics and I write these articles so that the normal person can understand the topic, without having to visit 10+ sites. Each article I write is researched with reference to properly conducted studies. I link to all of these studies so that you can look into it yourself if needed.