Been experimenting with different angles and grip widths for weeks, no matter what I do I can’t seem to feel the movement in my upper chest. I’ve been doing activation exercises with a band each day, which I can feel perfect, just can’t make that connection on the barbell.
I’ve read many posts here that suggest a narrower grip (just outside sh width) and also many that recommend keeping forearms perpendicular to the ground. Doing so with a slightly wider grip (+inch on ea side) seems to stress the upper chest more, but triceps, outside chest, and forearms get hit the most. Same with DBs. Also it seems like hand placement makes more difference than bench angle.
So far the only thing that has worked really well has been crossing both forearms with a DB in each hand and lifting them up very high, but it’s not something you can use any real weight on, so not sure if it’s worth doing.
Should I keep trying different incline angles/get stronger on the lift in general and see if it carries over to the chest? Keep progressing on the DB cross raise? Maybe use bands on a slight incline to simulate cables?
How long have you been training and how much muscle do you carry? It wasn’t until I was decently lean and had a good amount of muscle before I could really feel upper chest working( in my opinion the leaner you are the easier it is to feel different muscles working). If you are new to lifting weights I wouldn’t stress about this.
One of my favorite incline variations was inspired by the pic above (one of my favorite Arnold pics because… random Mickey Mouse). Basically, instead of the “traditional” closer grip, go pretty wide, fairly close to the collars. Lower down to almost-chest level, pause for a quick second to exaggerate the stretch, and then press about 3/4 up (not to lockout).
I’ve been doing activation exercises with a band each day, which I can feel perfect, just can’t make that connection on the barbell.[/quote]
Then maybe don’t use a barbell?
I can’t totally picture this movement, but regardless, just because you can’t “use any real weight” on a certain exercise doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. Especially if it’s something you actually feel working a muscle you’re trying to target.
How long have you been training and how much muscle do you carry?[/quote]
Valid questions. If you’re 5’11" and 150 pounds, don’t stress about building your upper chest.
For me, I feel it best with a barbell when:
using a moderately inclined bench,
lowering the bar in line with my clavicle,
my hands moderately wide (really, wherever they are when the forearms are parallel and the bar is above the clavicle),
and focusing on bringing the elbows up and together
I use pins and only lower to the point where my upper arms are parallel to the ground, but you can probably get more out of it if you bring the bar down a bit further.
It’s sort of an incline press and guillotine press hybrid.[/quote]
This is definitely a man who knows how to deal with long arms. I do the exact same thing and it is one of the very few exercises that allow me to feel the upper chest. I don’t care what anyone says, shortening the ROM to just have upper arms parallel to the ground has made all the difference in the world to me. With long arms (particularly long forearms) any lower generally transfers much of the stress to the shoulders, and off of the chest. I have nothing against full ROM, but if you aren’t powerlifting then it’s worth experimenting to see what works best for your unique build.
Thanks everyone for all the tips. I’m about 145 5’10, so might need to fill in more overall before the upper pec starts coming in.
Lorez, thanks for that description. I’ll try bringing the forearms up and together, and a straighter bar path.
Chris Colucci, thank you for that description and pic, very helpful.
[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
I can’t totally picture this movement, but regardless, just because you can’t “use any real weight” on a certain exercise doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. Especially if it’s something you actually feel working a muscle you’re trying to target.[/quote]
It’s like a front plate raise but with the arms crossed at just below the wrist, holding a DB in each hand and raising them very high up. Arms are fairly straight. I use a 10 in each hand. I might keep doing them, either before as preexhaust/activation, though I’m not sure if bands wouldn’t be better for that.
Seems like the best approach is to keep doing incline presses (for higher reps) while playing around more with the technique and tips given, while using the DB x raise/bands to help create an MMC in the meantime.
Have you tried low incline bench press from pins using a reverse grip? Lowering the bar to pins at nipple level relaxing and thinking of using your elbows move the weight. This is one of the only exercises that allows me to feel the upper chest at the mid clavicle area work