The Upper Chest Cure


If you suffer from weak, shallow upper pectorals, this workout may be the perfect remedy.

Consider it the curse of the bench press: The popularity of benching through the ages has resulted in countless aspiring bodybuilders with large, meaty middle pecs, topped by a lagging upper chest.

If this describes you, not to worry. There is a fix, in the form of a training strategy aimed at adding size, thickness and definition to the upper chest area. It just requires a change of strategy, and a willingness to push yourself, lifting heavy and maximizing your intensity in every workout.

First, a quick review. The pectorals are fan-shaped muscles on each side of your upper torso. For training purposes, it’s helpful to consider them as three different areas: the upper, middle and lower pecs, which all can be emphasized depending on your exercise selection. As you’d intuitively expect, incline movements hit the upper, flat-bench moves target the middle, and decline exercises emphasize the lower.

One common mistake is trying to do too much when training chest. This happens when you’re only hitting pecs once per week, cramming in incline, flat and decline pressing moves into that one session. Do that, and you may be limiting your body’s ability to develop.

That’s where an upper-leaning program comes in handy. Try splitting your chest workouts into two sessions, starting the week with the following upper-chest workout, then coming back three or so days later for a session populated by flat and decline-based exercises.

The following upper-pec workout starts out with the incline bench, since the start of your session is when you’re strongest and best able to recruit the “fast-twitch” muscle fibers — responsible for your short bursts of strength, those are the type that have the potential to grow the biggest and strongest.

Push as much weight as possible for the regular incline bench, pyramiding up the weight each set, down to three reps on the last set. The rest of the program includes supersets (two exercises done back to back with no rest in between), while the final movement is a reverse-grip incline bench press. Go to muscle failure with this exercise, which has been shown in research to hit up to 30 percent more of the upper-pec muscle fibers than any other barbell, dumbbell or machine incline option. It’s a killer finisher that will ensure your upper chest has no choice but to step up and grow.

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Incline Press 8 25, 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 3
Dumbbell Incline Presssuperset with 3 6
Dumbbell Incline Flye 3 10
High Cable Crossoversuperset with 3 12
High Cable Chest Press 3 12
Reverse-Grip Incline Barbell Press 1 30

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