Let’s face it, what most guys want, is a big, bulging chest with a line down the middle and the cool “sweep” look under the pecs. I get it, I do. Building an amazing chest doesn’t have to be hard, but it ultimately comes down to two things: focusing on lifting heavier weights over time and choosing the correct exercises. Now, let’s take a look at how to exactly get the chest that most guys aspire for.
Upper Chest Exercises
The whole “upper chest” debate has been going on for a long time now. I’ll keep it short and honest: there’s an “upper chest” muscle called the clavicular pectoralis, and it’s what we’re looking to train here. This muscle is part of the major pectoral muscle, the pectoralis major, but its muscle fibers also run in a different direction (the angle is quite unique actually). The biggest problem with this muscle is that it’s generally very hard to grow, but the exercises involved in growing it are also fantastic at building the pectoralis major, so that’s a bonus.
✓ Incline Chest Press
Simple: do lots of heavy incline pressing. And when I mean heavy, I mean roughly 4 to 6 reps or 5 to 7 reps. When you hit the top of your rep range, increase the weight until you do the same again, and repeat. Getting stronger on heavy incline presses, both dumbbell and barbell, will grow the chest beautifully. You’re not going to have a small chest if you’re dumbbell pressing 100-pound dumbbells in each hand, or barbell incline pressing over 275 pounds. As with all exercises, apply progressive overload (that is, getting stronger), and you’ll be doing just fine. Remember: as a natural weightlifter your main goal is to get stronger.
✓ Reverse Grip Bench Press
The reverse grip bench press is often an overlooked exercise but is great for building the upper chest and getting the line going down your chest. It’s also generally easier on the shoulders because it takes the shoulders out of the movement. It’s simply done by switching your grip around on the barbell bench press. This movement can both be done by using barbells or dumbbells. Start light though, it takes some time to get used to.
Upper Chest Progression
Remember, just doing these exercises isn’t enough. Get stronger on them (safely! Nobody wants an injury), and your upper chest will look fantastic. You’ll have that line down your chest in no time as long as you get your nutrition right and you’re consistently getting stronger.
1. Stay Off The Smith Machine – The smith machine has been time and time again proven to produce smaller strength gains than free weights. Muscle activation is simply not as efficient on the smith machine simply because it’s a machine and free weights are always going to be more effective than machines.
2. Micro-Load – When incline barbell benching, a fantastic way to get stronger is to “micro-load” with 2.5-pound plates. Simply add 5 pounds each workout by adding one to each side, and within a month you’ll have added 20 pounds onto your incline press. It’s much easier to progress by just adding a small amount of weight each time you workout.
3. Use A Power Rack – the power rack is your best friend when it comes to free weight pressing. The safety arms will save you if you try to get that extra rep and end up failing.
4. Proper Form – This kind of goes without saying. Learn how to do a proper bench press, and your shoulders will thank you. Roll the shoulders back and down and retract the scapula, and maintain this position throughout the lift. This puts the emphasis on your chest rather than your shoulders.
Muscle Building Nutrition
To put on muscle you need to recover after the gym. You can do this with the help of the following supplements:
This premium whey protein is a tri-blend of whey concentrate, whey isolate and hydrolyzed whey. It is the perfect everyday protein powder with 25 g of protein. For best results take a Thewhey shake post workout to help start your recovery process.
When you sleep you will go for around 6-8 hours without eating. Even when you sleep your body needs energy for normal bodily functions and this can lead to your body breaking down muscle mass. To protect against this it is a good idea to consume a slow release protein source before bed, and for this you need casein. Milk protein smooth contains 78% Micellar Casein, known as the ‘bedtime protein’. Take 1 serving before bed to enhance your recovery and muscle growth.
Take Home Message
Getting the line down your chest isn’t that hard, but don’t do what most people do: only do flat bench press. This kind of gives the chest a ”droopy” kind of look, and develops the lower and outer portions of the pectorals, and in my personal opinion isn’t very “aesthetic” looking. Of course, still do flat pressing in your workouts, but I would recommend starting your workout with incline pressing, either dumbbell or barbell, then move onto flat pressing. Try out these tips, and you’ll have that line down your chest in no time. As always, stay strong.