12 Best Upper Chest Workouts For Solid and Bigger Pecs

Almost everyone does the same exercises to build a sturdy and sizeable body, but not everyone gets the same results. And it may be because of various things, such as genetics, lifestyle, diet, and the selection exercises. You can’t do anything about genes, but you can improve your eating, sleeping, and exercising to achieve the desired physique.

By the way, I’ve shared myriad workouts for each muscle group on my website. But here, I’ll hand out the specific upper chest workouts that you can do with and without equipment to build defined pecs.

Here’s a quick list of upper chest exercises. Depending on where you work out and what equipment you have, you can pick some of them or do them on different days.

Bodyweight Upper Chest Exercises

  • Incline Pushup
  • Decline Pushup
  • Incline Diamond Push-Ups
  • Chest Dips
  • Push away Push Up

Barbell Workouts For Upper Chest

  • Incline Bench Press
  • Landmine Press

Dumbbell Exercises For Upper Chest

  • Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Fly
  • Dumbbell Pullover

Upper Chest Workouts with Machines

  • Standing Incline Cable Fly
  • Incline Bench Cable Fly

So if you want to add strength, size, and definition to your pecs, you can learn more about these exercises in this post.

If you do not have a bench, you can still do various dumbbell chest exercises without a workout bench to build the upper and lower chest at home.

The Chest Anatomy

The chest, also called pecs, is the larger muscle of the upper body located between the neck and the stomach. It is divided into two parts, pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

The pectoralis major is the primary chest muscle. And it has three sub muscles: clavicular head, sternal head, and abdominal head. 1Anatomy of Growth: How to Train Your Chest Muscles Bodybuilding.com

chest-mucsle-anatomy

The clavicular head is an upper chest muscle, and it does not fully engage while doing most of the flat presses or flyes, such as bench presses or cable flyes. And without working on your upper part, you won’t be able to build a thicker and sturdy chest.

How to Do Upper Chest Workout With Proper Technique

How to Do Upper Chest Workout

You can skip this part if you already know how to train the upper chest efficiently.

1. Perform Bench Presses at a 30-degree Incline Bench

If you want to develop the upper chest faster, perform exercises at a 30-degree incline position. A study has shown doing bench presses at a 30-degree incline bench produces greater activation in the upper portion of the chest muscle. And setting the bench at more than the 45-degree incline reduces pecs involvement and works more on the anterior deltoid, the study further suggested.2 Rodríguez-Ridao, David et al. “Effect of Five Bench Inclinations on the Electromyographic Activity of the Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, and Triceps Brachii during the Bench Press Exercise.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 17,19 7339. 8 Oct. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijerph17197339

2. Incorporate a Combination of Various Exercises

Always try the combination of different exercises. If you don’t see your muscles growing, you should do different variations of the upper chest workouts with dumbbells, barbells, and machines.

3. Use The Negative Reps Method.

Negative reps mean slowly lowering the weight down with complete focus. It puts your muscles under constant tension and helps grow mass.3Burd, Nicholas A et al. “Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men.” The Journal of physiology vol. 590,2 (2012): 351-62. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200

4. Appropriate Load

Lift as heavier weight as possible in the first couple of sets as your energy is at its peak during this time. So try lift at 80-85% of your one-rep max (1RM) with an aim to complete 6 to 8 reps. Moreover, increase the loads over time to increase strength and muscle growth.


Upper Chest Bodyweight Workout To Build Muscular Pecs At Home

The chest is one of the few muscles you can develop at home without weights because it works during the different pushups variations.

Here are some of the best upper chest bodyweight workouts to help you strengthen and build muscles at home.

1. Incline Pushup

The incline pushup is suitable for all fitness levels and reinforces upper body muscles, primarily the chest. Moreover, it helps scale up for standard pushups.

How to do an incline pushup:

  1. Place your hands (shoulder-width apart) on a flat bench with your arms straight below your shoulders.
  2. Move back, stand on your toes and keep your body straight in line from head to heels. That’s the start.
  3. Now, lower your chest without flaring your elbows out to the sides.
  4. Pause for a moment and press back to the starting position. That’s one repetition.
  5. Keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight during the movement.
  6. Do two sets of 15 to 30 reps each.

2. Decline Pushups

The decline pushup engages various muscles simultaneously, such as the front delt, upper chest, and triceps. However, it can be challenging for beginners.

Steps to do a decline pushup:

  1. Place your feet on the bench and your hands on the floor with your arms straight underneath your shoulder. Make sure your body is elevated and forms a straight line from heels to the head.
  2. Keep your core tight, back straight, lower your chest toward the floor, and push back to return to the start. That is your one repetition.
  3. Aim for a couple of sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Some tips for proper technique:

  • Do not flare your elbows out to your sides during the movement.
  • Keep your back straight throughout the exercise.

3. Incline Diamond pushup

The diamond or triangle pushup is an excellent push-up variation that strengthens various muscles, such as the triceps, chest, and core. In the absence of workout equipment, such as dumbbells and barbells, it can work as an excellent alternative to upper chest workouts.

How to do a diamond pushup:

  1. Place a bench or table in front of you and put your hands on it. Keep your hands closer, forming a triangle shape. And kick your legs behind so your body forms a straight line from top to bottom.
  2. Now, lower your chest toward the floor, and push back to return to the start. That’s your one repetition.
  3. Do two sets of 15 to 20 reps each

4. Chest Dips

The dip is a compound bodyweight workout that works on multiple muscles simultaneously, primarily the chest and triceps. It also solidifies your core and helps develop a muscular upper body.

To target your chest more precisely, you should perform dips by slightly leaning forward.

Upper Chest Bodyweight Workout

The correct way to do chest dips on the parallel bar:

  1. Stand between the parallel bar, garb the bar firmly and lift yourself upward until your arms are straight and elbows are locked and lightly bend your knees. That is your starting position.
  2. Now, bend your elbows, and lower your torso until you feel a stretch in your chest.
  3. Engaging your pecs, slowly extend your elbows until your arms are entirely straight. That’s one rep.
  4. Aim for three sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Pro Tips:

  • Keep your elbows close to your body during the entire movement.
  • Make sure you feel the work in your chest as you extend your arms to return to the start.

Related: How To Do Dips At Home (8 Exercises)


5. Pushaway Push up

The push-away pushup is another pushup variation you can do to strengthen your upper chest. It also works on the front shoulder and helps develop a sturdy upper body.

  • Get on your all fours, put your arms out in front of the body and keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick your legs behind you, lift your hips slightly up, and maintain a neutral spine. That is your starting position.
  • Now, dive down with your elbows flared out, squeeze your pecs, and then push through your hands to return to the start. That’s your one repetition.
  • Do two sets of 10 to 20 reps each.

Barbell Upper Chest Workouts To Increase Mass

The barbell is great equipment for developing sizable pecs. It allows you to lift heavier weights compared to dumbbells and helps engage the chest muscles effectively. So, if you work out in the gym, you can do these barbell upper chest workouts.

1. Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is one of the best exercises you can do to pump your upper chest. It also works on the shoulder and triceps other than the upper chest.

Barbell Upper Chest Workouts

How to do an incline bench press with a barbell:

  1. Set the bench at a 30-degree incline height, insert an appropriate weight into the barbell and lie on the bench under the bar.
  2. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, remove it from the rack and hold it over your upper chest with your elbows bent. That’s the start.
  3. Brace your core, breathe in, and press the bar with your full strength until your arms are straight over your pecs.
  4. Breath out and lower the bar to the start. That’s one rep.
  5. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps each.

Pro tips

  • Keep your core tight as it will give you power while pressing the weight.
  • Increase load after each set and perform till the failure.
  • Take your partner’s help, if possible, so that you can perform more reps.
  • Do not set the bench more than a 45-degree incline as it will reduce pecs involvement and increase shoulder engagement.

2. Barbell Landmine Press

The barbell landline press works on the upper chest, front delt, and core. It is not as effective as a barbell incline bench press, but you can try it out to see if it is working for you or not.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place the one end of the bar in the corner of the wall and insert the desired weight into the second end.
  2. Grab the second end of the bar firmly with your hands and sit on your knees and maintain a neutral spine position.
  3. Now, squeezing your pecs, press the bar upward until your arms are entirely straight. It’s your first rep.
  4. Shoot for three sets of eight to 12 reps each.
Related: Top 5 Barbell Chest Exercises At Home (No Bench)

Best Upper Chest Dumbbell Exercises To Isolate Your Pecs Effectively

You can work on your upper chest efficiently with dumbbells at home and the gym. The dumbbells provide a greater range of motion and help you target the chest deeply.

Here are three exercises you can incorporate into your workout routine to build a muscular chest.

1. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

Dumbbell Upper Chest Workout

The incline dumbbell bench press highly activates upper chest muscles and helps promote muscular growth. After the flat barbell bench press, you can do it to develop a thicker chest.

How to do incline DB bench press:

  1. Grab one dumbbell in each hand and lay down on a 30-degree incline bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold the dumbbells over your chest with your elbows bent.
  3. Brace your core, breathe in and then press the dumbbells upward until your arms are straight over your upper chest.
  4. Pause for a moment at the top and then lower the weights to the start.
  5. Perform three to four sets of 8-12 reps.

2. Incline Dumbbell Fly

You can also do the incline dumbbell flyes to strengthen your upper pecs. However, you should avoid it if you’re new to weight training.

Incline Dumbbell Fly
  1. Lie on an incline bench, holding one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing away from you. Also, keep your feet firmly on the ground.
  2. Hold the dumbbells directly over your upper chest. That’s your starting position.
  3. Now, lower your arms out to the sides in a slow and controlled manner till they reach below your shoulder height.
  4. Pause for a moment, and again raise your arms straight over your upper chest. And complete eight to twelve repetitions.
  5. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps each.

3. Dumbbell Pullover

You can incorporate dumbbell pullovers for overall pecs development. It works on the lats, core, and primarily the chest and helps grow muscles.

Dumbbell Pullover Chest Workout For Beginners
Dumbbell Pullover
  1. Grab the top of a dumbbell with your hands, lie on a flat bench and keep your feet firmly on the ground.
  2. Extend your arms behind your head in a slow and controlled range of motion.
  3. Slowly pull the dumbbell until your arms are directly over your chest. That’s one repetition.
  4. Maintain a soft bend in your elbows during the whole movement.
  5. Aim for three sets of eight to ten reps.

The Best Upper Chest Exercises with cables and Machines

Let’s see how you can develop your upper pecs with machine exercises.

1. Cable Upward Chest Fly

  1. Set the rack at an appropriate height, grab the handles firmly and stand upright in the staggered stance.
  2. With your elbows slightly bent, pull the cable until your arms are together in front of your chest.
  3. Pause, squeeze your upper chest, and slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. That is your first rep.
  4. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps each.

Pro Tips:

  • Keep your back straight, core tight, and maintain a neutral wrist position during the entire movement.
  • Keep your knees and elbows fractionally bent during the movement.

2. Incline Bench Cable Machine Fly

You can also do flyes on the bench with the cable to strengthen your pecs. The incline bench cable fly is worth trying out as it engages the upper chest efficiently.

How to do it:

  1. Positon the cable handles at the lowest point and place a 30-degree incline bench between the cable machine.
  2. Grab the handles firmly, lay down on the bench on your back, and hold your feet firmly on the ground.
  3. Hold your arms straight with your palms upward. And maintain a slight bend in your elbows during the movement.
  4. Brace your core, inhale, squeeze your upper chest and raise your arms upward until your hands meet over your face. And then exhale.
  5. Pause for a count at the top, and then return your arms to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner.
  6. Suggested sets and reps: 3 x 8-12

Pro Tips

  • Maintain a proper form throughout the exercise.
  • Keep your back nice and forth on the bench and look upward.

Here you’ve seen the complete list of upper chest exercises—Depending on where you work out and what equipment you ha, you can pick the ones.

And do remember that the last few reps are significant for muscle growth. So, if you want to build bigger pecs, challenge yourself and try to do more reps than you could do. Moreover, increase the loads over time to grow your muscles faster.

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