The Five Best Upper Chest Exercises

A man bench pressing a barbell
Frazao Media / Getty Images

The upper part of the chest, known as the pectoralis major clavicular head, is one of the most difficult muscles for a bodybuilder to fully develop. Even some of the top pro bodybuilders find it a struggle to build this muscle well into their tenure competing in the pro ranks. This is partly due to poor exercise selection and/or poor exercise form. The other component to consider is genetics, of course.

There are a select few exercises you can do that will really stimulate your upper chest. Learning what these exercises are and how to correctly perform them will allow you to pack on the mass onto your upper pectorals.

Without further ado, here are the five best upper chest exercises.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The use of dumbbells to do the incline bench press allows for a greater range of motion than a barbell, as you get a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement and a better contraction at the top. Adjust the bench to an incline between 45 and 60 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip and lie face-up on the incline bench. Position the dumbbells over your upper chest with your arms extended and rotate your shoulders so your elbows are pointing towards away from your sides. Bring the dumbbells down to the sides of your upper chest by horizontally abducting your shoulders by bending your elbows.

When the dumbbells are near your upper chest, bring them up to the start by horizontally adducting your shoulders and by extending your elbows.

Incline Cable Fly

The advantage of using cables while doing incline flys is the ability to maintain constant tension on your pectoralis major muscles. Adjust the bench to an incline between 45 and 60 degrees.

Grasp each cable handle with a neutral grip and lie face-up on the incline bench. Hold the cable handles over your upper chest with your arms bent a bit and rotate your shoulders to a neutral position so your elbows are pointing towards away from your sides. Bring the cable handles downwards and away from the sides of your upper chest in an arc-like motion by horizontally extending your shoulders. When your arms are parallel to the ground, bring the cable handles upwards to the beginning position in an arc-like motion by horizontally flexing your shoulders.

Incline Dumbbell Alternating Cross-Body Raise

This exercise is a variation of a shoulder exercise known as the front raise. By raising your arms across your body while lying on an incline bench, you emphasize the upper pectoralis major, as opposed to your front deltoids, which is emphasized in the traditional front raise movement. Position the bench at an incline between 45 and 60 degrees. Grab the dumbbells using a neutral grip with each hand and lie face-up on the incline bench. Position your arms by your sides, keeping them slightly bent. Raise your right arm across your body towards the left by flexing your right shoulder until your right arm is parallel to the ground.

Lower your right arm across to the right beginning position by extending your right shoulder. Repeat the motion with your left arm.

Seated Machine High-Grip Fly

This unique exercise allows you to mainly work your upper pectoralis major muscles due to the high grip used the machine levers. This exercise also keeps constant tension on your upper pectoralis major due to the use of a resistance machine. Set the machine seat to the lowest position. Sit on the machine seat and hold the middle of each machine lever using a neutral grip. Slightly bend your arms. Move the machine levers close together by horizontally adducting your shoulders. Move the machine levers away from one another to the initial point by horizontally abducting your shoulders.

Decline Pushup

This is a variation of the pushup that primarily targets your upper pectoralis muscle as a result of the decline angle of your body.

 Stand in front of the flat bench facing away from it. Place your hands on the ground at a distance a little wider than shoulder-width apart, put your feet up over the edge of the bench, and walk forward until you are in a pushup position with your body forming a straight line at a decline angle. Start with your arms straight. Lower your upper chest close to the ground by horizontally adducting your shoulders and by bending your elbows. Raise your body up to the initial point by horizontally abducting your shoulders and by extending your elbows.

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Choueiri, Richard. "The Five Best Upper Chest Exercises." ThoughtCo, Feb. 20, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-upper-chest-exercises-415268. Choueiri, Richard. (2017, February 20). The Five Best Upper Chest Exercises. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-upper-chest-exercises-415268 Choueiri, Richard. "The Five Best Upper Chest Exercises." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-upper-chest-exercises-415268 (accessed November 23, 2017).