Plenty of people in the gym are after building up their upper body and if you know what you’re doing, it really isn’t that complicated. If your diet is on track to tank those gains and your pushing it hard without seeing the progress, it’s time to rethink your workout. You may have spent hours in the gym and seen little progress. This could be down to what you lift and how many reps you rack out, or even the order that you do your exercises.
Think you’ve reached your limit when it comes to a chiselled chest? Well we’ve got the workout to prove you wrong.
Upper Chest Workout Routine
(warm up the rotator cuffs and get loosened up)
Incline bench press on a 30-45° angled bench
- 3-5 sets of 12,10,6,8,10
Low incline cable fly
- 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions
Decline dumbbell bench press
- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
Low to high cable crossover
- 3 sets of 12 reps
- 1 set to failure
As a finisher, foot elevated push ups
- 2 sets to failure
Lastly, make sure to have a cooldown of some sort just to stretch and loosen the muscles so they do not get tight and cause pain or discomfort. I’d recommend foam rolling, a lat stretch, and a doorway stretch for chest because it will be tight and sore after this workout is done.
Fit in a 45 to 90 second rest in between sets, just to keep the intensity relatively high to make this an effective workout.
How This Workout Hits The Upper Chest
As you can see, this program is designed to destroy your upper chest at the beginning of the work out when you have the most energy. The reason behind the 30° angle for the first exercise is because on a 45° angle, some people tend to feel it more in their shoulders as opposed to their upper chest. After that we moved on to decline just so we can get full muscle activation from the entire, followed by 2 exercises that just exhaust the upper chest.
If you want a more intense finisher than the push up, you can do ladder push ups (an exercise where you use a barbell on a smith machine and crank out 5-10 reps at the lowest hook, and then move the bar up a few hooks and do another 5-10, and so on until failure is reached).
Obviously there are more ways to tax the chest than the sets and reps. You can do rest pause sets on the heavy compounds, you could reduce the time in between sets from 90 seconds to 30-60, or you can lower the reps and go heavy to really up the intensity of the workout. You can also add in some tricep work after — such as pressdowns or extensions.
If your gym doesn’t have a decline bench, you can sub in incline dumbbell as well, and if your gym doesn’t have a cable crossover or it’s in use, you can always switch out the cables for incline flies, but aim for high reps and a hard contraction. Done properly with the right mind-muscle connection and intensity, this workout will leave your chest burning for a few days.
Take Home Message
Building a chest takes hard work, commitment, and some serious reps. It’s not all about the weights — some bodyweight exercises work just as well. Remember to mix it up to keep yourself motivated and your muscles moving in different ways. These exercises are a great addition to any upper body workout if you’re after a big and chiselled chest.