Understanding the basic anatomy of the chest, we know that the pectorals are only the major and minor, and only the major is clearly visible. However, there are ways to cause more stress to the upper, lower, and even central portion of the pec major.
Some EMG studies have found that decline bench, while thought to only be useful for building the lower chest, does actually recruit the most muscle fibers within the chest. It works the chest fully unlike the incline bench press that just works a majority of the top portion of the pec.
Everyone has tried the basic chest workout of flat barbell and then cable crossovers, and then throwing in incline towards the end or in the middle of their workout. That alone is a huge factor as to why your upper chest is lagging behind the rest of your chest and needs work. By doing incline first, you will use your fully recovered and rested muscles to lift more weight and tear down the muscle fibers of the upper chest more than if you were to start the incline farther into your workout. So for this workout were going to mix things up to drastically bring up our upper chest so we can have the total package.
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.
I’d recommend no less than 45 seconds rest but no more than 90 seconds 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.
One note is 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 other than the sets and reps I have prescribed. You can do rest pause sets on the heavy compounds, you could reduce the time in between sets from 90seconds to 30-60, or you can lower the reps and go heavy to really up the intensity of the workout and tesr the muscle fibers down. And if you feel the need, you can 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 just basic incline flies but aim for high reps and a deep, hard contraction. Done properly with the right mind-muscle connection, and intensity, this workout will leave your chest burning and exhausted for a few days.
NOW LET’S GO DESTROY THAT WORKOUT!