The 7 Best Upper Chest Exercises for Strength and Size

There’s a motive Mondays are colloquially referred to as “Worldwide Chest Day.” A powerful set of pecs can change your entire physique. Past desirous to look good on the seaside or pool this summer season, a robust chest also can assist you to carry out higher in every thing from powerlifting to gymnastics.

Whereas the standard bench press lives as much as its status for being an all-around unbelievable exercise for strength and dimension, rising your chest can take a extra articulate method than simply doing the usual 5 units of 5. 

Concentrating on your higher chest particularly can elevate each your appearance and efficiency if you recognize what you’re doing. That stated, you’ll be able to’t simply throw in any outdated workouts and anticipate to construct a shelf you can steadiness a soda can on. You want the proper higher chest workouts. You want these seven actions. 

Finest Higher Chest Workouts 

Incline Hex Press 

Rigidity is the secret in terms of breaking down muscle tissue so that they bounce again larger and higher. And few actions elicit extra rigidity than the hex press — an train that has you squeeze two dumbbells collectively as you press them. 

Doing the hex press on an incline will angle the weights so your higher chest is extra beneath siege. Beware: This motion, when finished accurately, is extremely humbling.

How one can Do the Incline Hex Press 

  1. Set an adjustable bench at a 30-45 diploma angle and seize a pair of reasonably difficult dumbbells. 
  2. With the dumbbells touching each other whereas resting in your chest, press up and again barely.
  3. Preserve your elbows tucked and decrease till the dumbbells gently contact your shirt. Actively “squeeze” the dumbbells collectively at some stage in the motion.

Coach’s Tip: This motion is greatest carried out with hexagonal-sided dumbbells, which have flat sides you’ll be able to simply press collectively. That’s why it’s referred to as a hex press.

Set and Reps: Attempt 2 or 3 units of 12 to fifteen reps to get higher chest pump going. 

Advantages of the Incline Hex Press 

  • Chest activation ought to be extra constant than when using a barbell.
  • Requires much less ground house than the barbell variation, making it extra handy to arrange shortly. 
  • A decrease stability demand permits for a greater mind-muscle connection.

Shut-Grip Bench Press

Benching is the bread and butter of chest day, irrespective of how (or why) you prefer to hit the weights. So far as high-value workouts go, you’ll be able to’t do a lot better than set of bench presses.

For constructing your higher chest particularly, you need to take into account bringing your arms in and performing the close-grip bench press as an alternative. Benching with a slim grip incorporates extra movement on the shoulder than a large grip, which ought to activate your higher pecs to a better diploma.

How one can Do the Shut-Grip Bench Press

  1. Arrange in a bench press station together with your eyes immediately beneath the barbell and your feet planted firmly on the ground. 
  2. Grip the bar with a slim, shoulder-width (or barely nearer) grip, and unrack it from the station by pulling it straight out till your arms are prolonged immediately over your shoulders.
  3. From right here, decrease the bar all the way down to your torso whereas preserving your upper arms tucked tightly to your sides.
  4. As soon as the bar makes contact together with your chest, reverse the movement, urgent up and again till the bar is at arm’s size over your shoulders as soon as once more.

Coach’s Tip: The bar ought to make contact together with your torso a bit decrease than you’ll to your normal-grip bench press.

Units and Reps: Check out 3 or 4 units of 6 to eight reps on the close-grip bench press. 

Advantages of the Shut-Grip Bench Press

  • If you are able to do a regular flat bench press, your approach ought to carry over to the close-grip variation fairly nicely.
  • Emphasizes your higher chest resulting from better movement on the shoulder joint.
  • Close-grip benching is usually much less taxing for individuals who have delicate shoulders or elbows resulting from higher joint alignment.

Incline Bench Press

Weight room lore dictates that the decline bench is for building your lower chest; the flat bench is an all-around pec coach, and the incline station is the place you belong when you’re attempting to construct your higher chest.

Fortunately, these concepts transcend broscience. Utilizing the incline bench press to coach your higher pecs has loads of legitimate scientific backing to it, with some information exhibiting that the incline bench is unequivocally superior to the flat bench for higher pec improvement. (1)

How one can Do the Incline Bench Press

  1. Sit in the incline bench station. Alter the seat so the barbell is barely behind your eyes whilst you look upward in direction of the ceiling. 
  2. Seize the bar with a large, beyond-shoulder-width grip and pull it out of the rack till your arms are straight above your shoulder joints.
  3. Bend your elbows to decrease the bar down till it touches excessive up in your chest, then press the burden again to the beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Throughout heavy incline bench presses, it’s possible you’ll wish to recruit a spotter that will help you take away and substitute the barbell from the rack because it begins behind your head.

Units and Reps: Attempt 3 or 4 units of 6 to eight reps on the incline bench press, however you should definitely preserve good type alongside the best way. 

Advantages of the Incline Bench Press

  • Permits you to load your higher chest closely and apply progressive overload with the barbell.
  • You may safely practice this train to muscular failure so long as you might have a spotter current.
  • Supplies some nice muscular stimulation to your anterior deltoids and triceps as nicely.
  • Serves as a good way to combine up your chest coaching when you usually persist with the flat bench

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

This incline dumbbell press is a well-liked motion amongst bodybuilders and powerlifters because it’s a flexible but difficult motion that, when carried out correctly, completely torches the chest and shoulders. 

Urgent on an inclined floor permits for a better diploma of shoulder flexion, which the clavicular head of the pecs (the higher chest) is primarily liable for. This elevated vary of movement ought to dramatically increase fiber engagement within the higher chest. (2)

How one can Do the Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Set an adjustable bench at a reasonable incline between 25-40 levels. With a pair of dumbbells resting on every knee, brace your core and lean again. 
  2. As you fall into place, “kick” the dumbbells into the beginning place with your legs after which plant your toes on the ground.
  3. Press the weights up, barely again, and inwards in direction of your midline.

Coach’s Tip: The ultimate place ought to see the dumbbells shut collectively, immediately over the shoulder joint, whilst you actively press your higher arm in opposition to your torso. 

Units and Reps: Go for 3 to five units of 8 to 12 reps right here.

Advantages of the Dumbbell Bench Press

  • Effectively-suited for high-intensity loading and might be pushed past failure with the presence of a spotter. 
  • The angle of the bench might be adjusted to go well with particular person wants or accommodate accidents.

Guillotine Press

At a look, this unusual motion might appear like any individual performing a regular bench press incorrectly. Nonetheless, when finished correctly, it’s a unbelievable train for the higher chest because of the intense stretch and restricted involvement of the triceps

This train can be nicely suited to efficiency in a Smith machine, because the preferrred bar path is totally or practically vertical. The Smith machine typically catches a nasty rep, however analysis means that it may possibly stimulate muscle activation and simply in addition to free weights. (3)

Advantages of the Guillotine Press

  • When carried out on a low incline, the guillotine press gives an excessive stretch on the pecs.
  • The distinctive vary of movement permits for stimulus from an angle that’s onerous to succeed in with different actions. 
  • It solely requires gentle loading to be efficient, saving each time and vitality on setup.

How one can Do the Guillotine Press

  1. Take a large grip and unrack an empty or lightly-loaded barbell whereas mendacity on a flat or barely inclined bench. 
  2. Decrease the burden slowly straight downwards in direction of your neck or clavicle whereas preserving your elbows flared. 
  3. Don’t relaxation the bar in your neck at any level, however maintain the underside place for a second earlier than urgent again up whereas making an attempt to “bend” the bar right into a U-shape. 
  4. Cease earlier than any noticeable shoulder discomfort. 

Coach’s Tip: Begin with very, very gentle weights right here. The empty barbell could also be sufficient to start with.

Units and Reps: Because you aren’t utilizing heavy weights, strive 2 or 3 units of 12 to fifteen reps. 

Low Cable Flye

well-designed training program ought to comprise actions that practice all of the anatomical features that the muscle performs. Although the pecs are generally related to urgent, additionally they pull the arm horizontally in house. 

As such, chest day can’t be full with out no less than one lateral flye motion — on this case, one particularly concentrating on the higher chest. By setting the cable attachments at a low angle, you’ll be able to completely mimic the shoulder flexion carried out by the pec minor, making the low cable flye the right capstone to your subsequent chest day. 

How one can Do the Low Cable Flye

  1. With the cables set under waist degree, assume a staggered stance. Enable your arms to hold barely behind the physique, palms going through ahead. 
  2. “Scoop” the handles up and inwards whereas rotating the arm such that your elbows are pointing to the perimeters on the prime.
  3. Squeeze your chest and drive the higher arm in opposition to the torso on the prime for a robust contraction earlier than slowly returning to the beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Keep away from shrugging your shoulders; preserve them away out of your ears and permit them to protract, or transfer ahead, through the flye.

Units and Reps: 2 units of 12 to fifteen reps ought to do the trick. 

Advantages of the Low Cable Flye

  • Supplies extra constant rigidity all through the vary of movement than a dumbbell flye
  • Cables supply fast and handy load adjustment, making this motion preferrred for drop units or cluster training
  • Gentle, easy resistance makes this an ideal possibility for anybody coping with an damage.

Weighted Dip

The standard dip is taken into account a calisthenics classic, however could also be too simple to carry out for some athletes. With some minor changes to issue if wanted, it may be a unbelievable finisher to your subsequent upper-chest-focused exercise. The weighted dip is a good addition to a coaching plan as a result of it satisfies a spread of movement not lined by the opposite actions on this checklist. 

Despite the fact that a large, straight-arm flye motion tears the chest aside, some analysis suggests {that a} nearer grip can stimulate the higher chest notably nicely in terms of urgent workouts just like the dip. (4)

How one can Do the Weighted Dip

  1. First, work out load the train. Frequent choices for loading the dip embrace draping a sequence throughout the higher again, utilizing a weight belt with a loop for plates, or wrapping a light-weight dumbbell between crossed ankles
  2. Droop your self from the handles, brace your core, and depress your scapula. 
  3. When you and the burden are nonetheless, descend slowly by bending at your elbows and permitting your higher arm to float behind your torso. 
  4. Whenever you really feel a big stretch in your chest, press your self again up whereas preserving your arms tucked to your sides.

Coach’s Tip: Preserve your shoulders depressed the whole time, tucked down away out of your ears. 

Units and Reps: Attempt 3 to 4 units of as many reps as attainable, however cease about two reps prior to finish failure. 

Advantages of the Weighted Dip

  • The weighted dip is nice as a finisher motion since it may be pushed to mechanical failure safely.
  • It’s scalable in difficulty as even small quantities of added weight vastly influence the problem. 
  • Extremely customizable in approach to accommodate totally different physique sorts and motion restrictions.

Higher Chest Coaching Suggestions

Bodybuilding is akin to sculpture. You begin with a big slab of stone and break off large chunks to start with. The extra effort and time you set into your work, the extra consideration to element you have to absolutely notice the artwork.

The identical thought applies to your coaching; you’ll be able to construct a good pair of pecs with any mixture of workouts, however to spotlight your higher chest particularly, you have to take a scalpel to your coaching. 

Discover Your Incline

A big physique of scientific analysis reveals that coaching your chest whereas mendacity on an inclined floor will have interaction your higher pecs. Nonetheless, that is contingent on the angle aligning together with your distinctive anatomy.

Benchmarks are all nicely and good; you need to begin by performing incline workouts on a bench set to a roughly 30-degree angle. Nonetheless, don’t be afraid to experiment with the grade of the bench and discover the precise proper angle that lights up your pecs. It most likely received’t be the identical angle as your health club associate’s. 

Focus and Focus

The mind-muscle connection is an actual phenomenon. Coaching massive muscle tissue like your lats, quads, or glutes is straightforward. You may really feel them whilst you carry out rows, leg presses, or hip thrusts with out actually attempting.

Nonetheless, “discovering” a small muscle like your higher chest isn’t as simple. In case you solely care about pushing weight, it’s possible you’ll lose your reference to the goal muscle within the course of. In case you incorporate new upper-chest-focused actions into your coaching, take time through the first few workouts to actually mentally join together with your higher pecs earlier than you begin loading these actions. 

Make It a Precedence

In case you take into account your higher chest to be a weak point in your physique, you’ll be able to’t treatment that subject by treating it like an afterthought. Tacking on an upper-chest-focused motion on the finish of your push exercise — once you’re exhausted already — might not present an ideal return in your funding.

To deliver up a lagging body part (equivalent to your higher pecs), you need to goal it early in your exercise once you’re recent, targeted, and able to work onerous. This will imply performing incline presses earlier than your flat presses, as an illustration, as an alternative of the opposite approach round. 

Advantages of Coaching Your Higher Chest 

Despite the fact that concentrating on small, particular muscle tissue is usually the province of aggressive physique athletes, together with a number of upper-chest-focused actions in your coaching can yield advantages with out requiring you to step on a bodybuilding stage

Improved Aesthetics

Nonetheless, the first profit is undeniably visible. Physique icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger had been identified for his or her impossibly large chests, and that sort of status solely comes from ensuring the whole thing of the muscle is educated correctly. Neglecting the pec minor in your exercises long-term will probably create an imbalanced look. 

Joint Well being & Longevity

That doesn’t imply that focused chest coaching is all type and no substance. Surprisingly, specializing in the clavicular head of the pecs might enhance shoulder well being because the muscle does connect to — and thus impacts the habits of — the scapula. 

A person doing the dumbbell press.
Credit score: Reshetnikov_art / Shutterstock

For long-term joint integrity, even isolation workouts generally present in bodybuilding packages might be useful in the event that they correctly stretch the tissues. (5)

Extra Energy & Increased Efficiency

Lastly, all accessory training could have some degree of carryover to your primary sport or exercise, higher chest work included. Because the pec minor is so well-stimulated by performing anterior urgent actions on an incline, doing so will probably increase your urgent energy total, serving to you push heavier weights overhead in weightlifting, strongman, or CrossFit exercises.

How one can Heat Up Your Chest Earlier than Coaching

Whereas it’s attainable to leap into some exercises and get within the groove naturally, performing a dedicated chest session whereas “chilly” might be a recipe for catastrophe. A standard ailment amongst health club rats is the “bench presser’s shoulder,” a self-explanatory moniker for the aches and pains related to an excessive amount of urgent. 

Whereas it’s considerably of a catch-all, the hyperlink between extreme urgent and shoulder ache is theorized to be a results of comfortable tissue aggravation within the pec minor particularly. (6)

Because the actions on this article closely goal the higher chest, a proper warm-up is totally important. 

Attempt This Heat-Up Protocol

In terms of warm-ups for a heavy chest day, the secret is activation and stabilization. Frequent rehabilitative workouts such because the face pull or rear delt raise are unbelievable for “waking up” the small muscle tissue within the higher again that articulate the shoulder.

Afterward, a rudimentary motion that forces the shoulder blades to stay inert in opposition to resistance will work wonders for stability: an inverted row, scapula push-up or pull-up, or perhaps a drag curl, specializing in pinching the shoulders again and down whereas pulling the elbows again behind the physique carefully mimics the motion of the arm throughout most presses. 

Anatomy of the Chest

The chest is separated into two distinct parts: the pectoralis main, or sternal head, is the superficial muscle most individuals are conversant in, whereas the pectoralis minor, or clavicular head, runs beneath and attaches to the shoulder blade. The pecs are the key engine behind many frequent actions each out and in of the health club, from sled pushes to swimming

A person doing chest workouts with cables.
Credit score: Nikolas_jkd / Shutterstock

Since each heads are a part of the identical muscle advanced, their buildings are fairly related. Nonetheless, the totally different attachment websites (humerus and scapula, respectively) imply that they generally carry out totally different features. The pec main takes a big position in adducting the arm, whereas the pec minor, your higher chest, is closely concerned in shoulder flexion — elevating the arm ahead in entrance of the physique.

Though heavy compound pressing is at all times dependable for muscle stimulus, extra articulate or remoted work is usually wanted to actually spur the higher chest into development. This distinction is necessary as a result of it impacts train choice — many fashionable coaching packages fall quick in complete chest improvement as a result of they don’t account for the variations in construction or perform.

Carry Your Higher Chest Up

If you wish to build an impressive chest, you have to do greater than hit the flat bench. The proper workouts might help you craft three-dimensional pecs that stand out in a t-shirt and complement your physique as a complete. Use these higher chest workouts to construct a chest that Schwarzenegger would envy. 


  1. Chaves, S. F. N., Rocha-JÚnior, V. A., EncarnaÇÃo, I. G. A., Martins-Costa, H. C., Freitas, E. D. S., Coelho, D. B., Franco, F. S. C., Loenneke, J. P., Bottaro, M., & Ferreira-JÚnior, J. B. (2020). Results of Horizontal and Incline Bench Press on Neuromuscular Diversifications in Untrained Younger Males. Worldwide journal of train science, 13(6), 859–872.
  2. Trebs, A. A., Brandenburg, J. P., & Pitney, W. A. (2010). An electromyography evaluation of three muscle tissue surrounding the shoulder joint through the efficiency of a chest press train at a number of angles. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 24(7), 1925–1930. 
  3. Saeterbakken, A. H., Olsen, A., Behm, D. G., Bardstu, H. B., & Andersen, V. (2019). The short- and long-term results of resistance coaching with totally different stability necessities. PloS one, 14(4), e0214302. 
  4. Barnett, Chris, Kippers, Vaughan, and Turner, Peter (1995). Results of variations of the bench press train on the EMG exercise of 5 shoulder muscle tissue. Journal of Power and Conditioning Analysis 9 (4) 222-227.
  5. Van Straaten, M. G., Cloud, B. A., Zhao, Ok. D., Fortune, E., & Morrow, M. M. B. (2017). Sustaining Shoulder Well being After Spinal Twine Harm: A Information to Understanding Remedies for Shoulder Ache. Archives of bodily drugs and rehabilitation, 98(5), 1061–1063. 
  6. Bhatia, D. N., de Beer, J. F., van Rooyen, Ok. S., Lam, F., & du Toit, D. F. (2007). The “bench-presser’s shoulder”: an overuse insertional tendinopathy of the pectoralis minor muscle. British journal of sports activities drugs, 41(8), e11. 

Featured Picture: Chutimun Kasun/Shutterstock

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