T Nation

Upper Chest

Is there a such thing as targeting your upper chest? If so - what exercises are good for that?

Also I don’t really want to make another thread so while we’re at it: is there a downside to training obliques? I just read on another unrelated post something to the effect of ‘don’t train your obliques if you’re a bodybuilder’. By bodybuilder I assume that means aesthetic trainers (which I am).

[quote]mduckworth wrote:
Is there a such thing as targeting your upper chest? If so - what exercises are good for that?

Also I don’t really want to make another thread so while we’re at it: is there a downside to training obliques? I just read on another unrelated post something to the effect of ‘don’t train your obliques if you’re a bodybuilder’. By bodybuilder I assume that means aesthetic trainers (which I am).[/quote]

I do think that some exercises stimulate more fibres in the upper pectoral muscle. I like incline DB presses for this, but I’m no bodybuilder. I’m sure people will have better suggestions.

Part of bodybuilding is having a V-shaped upper body, which ideally consists of wide shoulders and lats, and the smallest waist possible. So, training your obliques could make your waist look thicker, which isn’t good for aesthetics.

[quote]mduckworth wrote:
Is there a such thing as targeting your upper chest? If so - what exercises are good for that?[/quote]

Guillotine presses are good, but can wreak havoc on shoulders. Some can handle it, some can’t.

Incline bench press is the standby that most people use. EDIT: or incline dumbbell press.

In general, a good V taper is a goal of most physique based training. The idea is that training obliques makes you look “blocky”, and takes away from that taper.

A bunch of people on this site told me “actually, your abs and obliques are pretty much genetic, and whether or not you train your obliques, it really won’t make much of a difference.”

Yes, you can focus on upper pecs. Mine used to suck. They don’t now. Incline presses from dumbbells to barbells, to machines. I even trained “upper chest” on its own day for a while and that is when I made the most progress there.

As far as obliques, yes, if you have a wide waist naturally, training your obliques for hypertrophy will lead to you looking even wider.

For me it has to be low incline dumbbell press,nothing makes my chest more sore, particularly the upper bit.

[quote]BIG-GEORDIE wrote:
For me it has to be low incline dumbbell press,nothing makes my chest more sore, particularly the upper bit.[/quote]

I’ll agree with this, and most everything else here, just with emphasis on the “low incline” for me in particular.

For years I always wondered what I was doing wrong in Incline Presses - because it only worked my shoulders. I changed my technique, went partial ROM, full ROM, anything you can think of, and hitting a much “shallower” angle made all the difference in the world.

Obliques have been covered fairly extensively. No real need to train them if what you do isn’t performance-based.

Thanks guys, plenty to take on board

close grip floor press

incline hammer strength machines

really focus on stretch and contraction, not weight

30 degree incline DB bench press has been doing great for my upper chest development. And like others said, obliques can visually widen your waist, diminishing from that V taper.

hmmm, what hasn’t been mentioned yet?

low to high cable flyes, rotating your palms so that they are facing upwards at peak contraction…hold squeeze for one second.

Reverse grip bench press…make sure your tris dont take over

some good suggestions here. The 15-30 degree incline bench press works quite well, especially if you make sure you use continuous tension with a heavy weight. That means don’t go all the way down to your chest, only go down like 2 inches above. And don’t lockout your arms.

The slight incline DB bench press is good too. Slight meaning put a 25 lb plate under the head part of the bench.

Incline hammer strength using mini bands can work quite well too. I’ve never used the incline hammer press but the flat works quite well. Make sure it’s banded though, otherwise don’t even do them. Hold for a count of 1 at the flex position.

[quote]mduckworth wrote:
Is there a such thing as targeting your upper chest? If so - what exercises are good for that?

[/quote]

Ever try reading the thousands and thousands of articles and books and videos on bodybuilding (including those available on this site)?

[quote]chobbs wrote:
Reverse grip bench press…make sure your tris dont take over[/quote]

Hmm, I do this as, and I’ve only ever heard it done as, mainly a tricep exercise

While some people will argue almost violently that you can’t isolate a portion of a muscle, the fact that the pectorals have multiple attachment points allows for some variation as opposed to the biceps, which simply anchors at two end of a simple hinged joint. [Picture a fan shape for the chest, and a long-oval balloon for the bis]

You will get a lot of suggestions for incline work, either pressing or flye/cable movements. While all are worthwhile, I want to point out that in my own experience, it’s not simply a matter of where the stress is when you contract the muscles (ie. where the dumbells may be at the top of an incline press), but moreso where they return to and create the stretch.

I have found that allowing my arms to move closer to my waist at the bottom of fly and press movements, allows a much fuller stretch, and subsequent contraction in the upper chest fibers. This is especially useful if you place a low incline bench (20-30 degrees) in a cable station, and use this is a pre-exhaust movement for your pressing work.

Also, and I’ve mentioned this many times in the past, for incline pressing work, bringing the weight down to your lower chest, and then returning the weight in an arcing manner, will be hit your upper fibers much more than keeping the bar above your upper chest/collar bone throughout the entire movement.

S

Stu is the man! Will try those tips out.

/hijack

If your intent is to target upper pecs, try this:

Set your bench to a very low incline. Now when you do barbell bench presses or DB bench presses (preferred), shrug your shoulders up to your ears as you push the weight up. Hold at the top for a moment, then lower the weight as you un-shrug your shoulders.

This hits my upper pecs like nothing else.

another one I forgot about… stretch push-ups! Hits the upper pecs quite well, at least for me. Especially when you keep the chin up.

[quote]PB Andy wrote:
another one I forgot about… stretch push-ups! Hits the upper pecs quite well, at least for me. Especially when you keep the chin up.

Did these yesterday - my upper pecs are really sore.

grab a bench and set it at a low incline at a smith machine station, take a very wide grip and come down just below your clavicles. at that position you will feel an enormous stretch in your upper chest, at least I do. i’ve come to find this works better towards the end of your workout with higher reps. also don’t lock out. do the bottom half of the movement. you’ll be sore the next day. i think meadows does/did something similar to this? it works really well for me, i’m 6’3 with very long arms, maybe that comes in to play.