It is common practice with bodybuilders to work on their middle-chest first on their chest day. Basically, the general routine is goes something like this:
- Flat Bench Press
- Incline Bench Press
- Dumbbell Flyes
- Decline Bench Press
Now, if you are doing a middle-chest movement first, it only makes sense that your body will get fatigued for the next exercise. This is why most bodybuilders lag in the upper and lower chest region.
This blog will give you all the tips you need to form your workouts in a way that it really hits those upper chest muscles.
1. Start with an Upper Chest Movement
The most obvious solution to target your upper chest muscles is to start your workout with upper chest exercises. So instead of starting on a flat bench, try starting your workout with an incline bench press.
You will automatically feel that you can lift a lot more on the incline bench since your body is at the highest energy level. This will force your upper chest muscles to lift more than it is used to, setting you on the path to getting those gains.
The worst thing you can do in the gym is sticking to weights that you can easily handle and do 3 sets of 10 reps with. This practice stalls muscle growth as your muscle fibers are not really being challenged. Since you are starting with the incline bench, try increasing the weight to push yourself over the limit.
2. Say No to Fixed Benches
In most cases, the angle of the incline bench is fixed, usually at a 45-degree angle. There is no science in the world that says the upper chest can be worked on from the same angle every time.
It is important that you look for an adjustable incline bench and switch up the angles, this can either be set to set or work out to work out, depending on what you are more comfortable with. This will help improve your upper chest muscles, targeting your muscle fibers in different ways.
3. Do a Second Exercise
One great way to target a body part which is lagging is by doing a second exercise for it. Keep in mind that doing the same exercise is not going to help in any way.
Let’s take for example you have done an incline barbell press and are looking to do a second exercise, doing the same exercise on a smith machine will not do you any good. It is better to do a lower incline dumbbell press. This will target your upper chest muscle fibers in a different way, making for more gains.
4. Failure Does Not Mean That You Stop
If you are looking for muscle growth, fear of muscle failure should be out if the question. If you have to do a set of 10 reps and you complete it knowing full well that you could have pushed for 1 to 5 more reps then you aren’t doing it right.
There are multiple techniques that you can try out on your chest day, just make sure that you have a gym buddy with you.
You do your set as normal and after your body peaks, your gym buddy provides you with assistance to push through a few more reps.
You do the set as normal and when your body peaks your partner provides you with a lot of assistance lifting a weight, but then you take a full five seconds to lower it, focusing on the negative contraction.
If you don’t have a partner, that’s ok too, here are some techniques you can try out on your own
Choose a weight you can lift for 8 reps, but only do 3-4 reps and then rest 20 seconds. Now do 3-4 more reps, stringing together 4-5 work segments, with 20 seconds of rest in between, and you’ll end up with about 15 reps using a weight you’d normally only be able to lift for 7-8 reps.
When you reach muscle failure, rather than just dropping the weight, instead reduce the poundage by about 25 percent and continue the set to the second point of muscle failure.
5. Try Different Upper-Pec Movements
Assuming that you know the basics of upper chest movement, here are some movements you can try out to target those upper chest muscle fibers.
Semi-inclined bench press
Whether you do it with dumbbells or in the Smith machine, doing your presses with the in-between angles on an adjustable bench can bring no life to this classic exercise.
Incline machine press
Instead of hitting your usual machine, use the machine you typically don’t favor. In addition, if your gym has a Hammer Strength chest machine in which each arm moves independently, sit sideways to the unit, brace yourself with your free hand, and press across your body.
Single-joint incline fly
You probably already do some kind of single-joint movement in your workout, but try and make it one that focuses on the upper chest muscles. You can try cable crossovers from the lower pulleys, incline-bench cable flyes, and incline-bench dumbbell flyes.
Reverse-grip bench press
Flat-bench barbell presses with a reverse grip actually shift the focus to the upper chest muscles. Start out light and make sure your thumbs are hooked around the bar for safety.
Ditch the flat bench for your pullovers and do them on an incline bench instead. Do 3 sets of 12, holding that last rep for a five-second isometric to really feel the burn.
Now that you know all the techniques and the tools you need to hit those upper chest muscle fibers you are ready to apply them all in the gym, but hey, we wouldn’t be SQUATWOLF if we didn’t give you a quick workout routine you could try on your next chest day.
Most people ignore the upper chest mainly because most chest days hinder the effort made on the upper chest. This could cause your body symmetry to lag, but now that you know what to do, go crazy on those pecs and enjoy the true beauty of a well-defined chest.
If you already got your upper chest muscles down pat, click here to read how you can make your lower chest better.