The “Upper Chest” is one of those almost exclusively male obsessions. Man starts training, Man builds muscle, Man realizes the the upper region of his pectorals beneath his collar bones are not nearly as dense, full, or develop as the “lower pec” Man is frustrated by this. Over the course of my training career, Ive been asked the “what to do for upper chest question” hundreds of time. The solutions are nothing particularly fancy, but it does require some background context (or at least I think it does. Teach in context)
Some Basic Anatomy
To understand WHY its hard to develop, know first that the upper chest has a separate innervation point from your pec major. It has its own wiring basically, the nerve runs into the upper chest is NOT the one that runs through the middle and lower pecs. Now, this is relevant, because the “upper pec” in comparison to the lower/mid pec is a much smaller area of muscle. So its harder to target, the lower pecs overpower it more or less, and bear the brunt of the working load. So In most chest pressing work, your pec major is doing most of the work. The upper pec will be activated and contracting, but overall its not doing the brunt of the work, nor is it being stretched and contracted in such a way as to lead to any significant growth. This is why “Flat” chest pressing is unlikely to lead to total pec development for most guys. So here are the strategies you must employ
1. Incline Pressing – Making incline pressing the majority of your chest pressing exercises, Experiment with inclines, from 10-50 degrees
2. Use Incline Chest fly movements – The upper pec can easily be overtaken by the front delts, use fly movements to target it directly.
3. Work upper pecs FIRST – Don’t train chest and then try to target upper pec. Work your upper chest when your energy is highest. Practice the Priority Principle
4. Prioritize activation and innervation over load – Divorce yourself from the idea that heavier weights MUST be used. If heavy weight worked, it would have worked already. Drop the weight if necessary, slow the reps down, and train by FEEL, not load.
5. Use bands and cables before barbells and DBs – If you cant feel a muscle, that muscle is not contributing. Start with the light work FIRST. Perform flys, cable crossover, and hex presses. THEN do your incline presses
6. Make the Incline Bench Press your primary movement – Incline works the upper chest, period. Prioritize getting strong on incline vs flat An example of an Upper chest priority workout 1. Incline Cable Fly-4 sets x 16,12,10,8 reps, add weight each set 2. Hammer Incline press w/ Bands-3×10, lower the weight with a 4 second eccentric on every rep 3. Low Incline DB press 3×6-8, use as heavy of a weight you can manage for all three sets. Set the inline to either 15 or 30 degrees 4. Dips-3 sets to failure. Add weight if bodyweight is too easy You could also check out the chest/shoulder program (https://gum.co/stgIl), which makes use of these principles very very well And now you have no more excuse for having a “wet blanket” chest to use an old timey term, Get to pressing.