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Developing a strong and broad upper chest doesn’t have to be complicated. Most people tend to neglect the upper chest but it’s the secret to having a thicker overall chest.
A common mistake is only using the flat bench press and not utilizing angles, mind-muscle connection and taking the peddle off every time they lockout on each rep.
You will find 8 of the best tips to build a bigger, thicker upper chest and fill out your shirt or look like a beast at the beach.
Simply incorporate just a few of these effective tips below and you will surely gain a bigger upper chest.
Let’s start with:
Mind Muscle Connection
Mind muscle connection is establishing a focus on the area of muscle to be targeted. This prevents supporting muscles from activating too much or overcompensating.
Make sure to warm-up your chest muscles before starting your working sets to prevent injury and start to establish the mind muscle connection.
Focus your mind on pushing the weight. You should avoid mindlessly going through the motion of lifting the weight. Muscle needs to be intentionally under direct load for a duration of time to maximize growth.
Train your lagging chest muscle first
If upper chest is your weakest link what should be your first muscle target? If you chose the upper chest than you are correct.
Exercising your lagging upper chest first gives you the energy to really train your upper chest to exhaustion. Most people will preach about training your lagging muscle last as all the surrounding muscles are fatigued and less likely to assist.
In my opinion, by the time you focus on the lagging muscle you lack the energy and frankly, your mind muscle connection becomes harder to maintain as fatigues creeps in.
Push past your limits
I say push past your limits by going beyond muscle failure. If you do a set of 10 and you only felt the burn on the last rep or never really struggled to make rep 10. You should push another 3-5 reps further past to truly do a set of 10.
At least for the last 2-3 sets try pushing past failure. What I mean is rather than throw your weights down. Hold the weights on your chest and rest for a few seconds and punch out another 3-5 reps.
Word of caution. Don’t use this technique past muscle failure on every set as it could lead to acute overtraining. Typically best to utilize on the final set.
You should be using dumbbells
If you only use barbell you’re missing out on some serious gains. While the barbell bench is awesome, using dumbells allows stabilizing muscles to be fired for overall muscle growth.
Consider alternating between barbell and dumbells for every chest exercise weekly.
Consider training chest twice per week
Generally training chest once per week is effective as it allows sufficient recovery. If you really have a lagging chest, particularly the upper chest, training twice per week for at least 6-8 weeks is recommended.
You should aim for a split workout and you shouldn’t repeat the same exercise from a few days earlier or train chest from back-to-back push days. You should allow at least 48 hours between push workouts on muscle groups as chest, shoulders and triceps.
Change your approach by using different chest exercises, reps, rest rate, and other factors.
The perfect split timing would be to do your second chest workout after a rest day to provide optimal recovery.
To maximize upper chest growth you want to stop your triceps from taking the load off your chest. By locking out your arms you activate your traps and essentially giving your chest a break.
Make sure your upper chest is constantly under tension by pausing just before lockout. Practise mind muscle connection as we discussed earlier to prevent the tri’s from activating and stealing your gains!
Stretch your chest for maximum growth
Stretching your chest between each set is crucial for growth. Stretching the chest expands your fascia which is a thin layered skin around your muscle fibers. This creates room for blood to flow into the area to improve strength and growth.
Don’t overstretch during your exercise. Keep it minimal and regular.
You should also stretch after an intense upper chest workout to promote fresh blood to fill your chest and promote muscle growth and recovery.
Use Multiple Angles
Make sure to change the angles of your adjustable bench while using dumbells. There aren’t any rules on what angles to hit. However, the lower you go will use less shoulder but, if you go too far down you won’t be truly training upper chest.
Again, mind muscle connection will allow you to know if you’ve gone too far either way.
Hitting those different angles adds another training dynamic to your program for muscle growth.
Example upper chest workouts
Here are two upper chest exercise programs you can use to bring your lagging upper chest up to speed. Make sure program 2 isn’t done in less than 48 hours from program 1 or vice versa.
Upper chest program 1
Barbell OR Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Dips: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Push Ups (Feet on Swiss Ball): 3 sets of 6-12 reps (or to failure)
High to Low Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 10+ reps
Upper chest program 2 (Split)
Seated W Press: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Front Dumbell Shoulder Raises: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Supinated Smith Machine Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Guillotine Press: 3 sets of 15 reps
Low Cable Cross-Over:3 sets of 10-12 reps