T Nation

Upper Pec Development


#1

I am trying to develop my upper pecs for visual reasons. My chest is big, and strong, but bottom heavy. What would be the best route? Some exercises I am thinking about include, benching to the neck, incline press. Maybe some cable crossovers for the lower pec, so it's not so flabby, but doens't get any bigger.


#2

I'm kinda 'bottom heavy' as well when it comes to chest. This is what I've tried..
Incline dumbell and close-grip barbell press (perform at both 30 and 45 degrees). Pullovers. DB military presses performed with hands semi-supinated and arms kept as close to the head as possible (DB in line with anterior deltoid is about right). I found that working towards 1-arm pushups is helping to even up my chest development also. Oh, and handstand pushups really seem to hit the top of the chest!


#3

Maybe it's not additional upper pec development that will give you the most bang for you buck but loss of bodyfat. A lot of 15-20% BF guys carry more fat in the chest region than they realize.


#4

What are your shoulders and triceps like? If they are well developed, they may be taking bulk of the work. If this is the case you could try to either pre-exhaust them or after a set of incline presses superset with incline flyes to hit the pecs some more.


#5

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=191pop2

Scroll down to the part with the steep incline presses. Ever since i started doing these regularly ive definitely seen improvement in my upper chest. Didnt take very long either..


#6

you might want to pull some cues from CT's superhero program. theres a link to it in this article under the picture of da freak.
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=917176
phase 2 is upper chest/biceps and has a few good techniques for isolation without bringing the triceps or shoudlers into it.
Good luck on getting your 'shelf chest'.


#7

There is no "upper" or "lower" pec. It is all one muscle fiber. Just get the entire chest bigger for starters.


#8

Just start benching on a slight incline, one or two notches and maybe a little wider grip. Too steep and you start hitting the Anterior Delt more.


#9

WTF are you talking about? Sure there's an upper and a lower pec. Not an inner pec though.

I recommend cable cross-overs from the low pulleys.

And the anterior deltoids will always be involved. Nothing you can do about it.


#10

Good point. Had a decent chest at 15%BF, but not much upper pec. Dropped down to 9% and my chest looked like a Roman soldier breast plate (talk about turning heads!). My favorite chest exercise is incline bench.


#11

You have gotten some good replies already but one thing I do on any kinda seated chest press, I drop the seat one lower than I would normally be at. Then I drop my shoulders down to try and take them out of the equation. At full contraction I squeeze the shit out of my upper chest area. Also, if I am on a straight press, I try to "choke my chin" in between my pecs at full contraction like I am placing my head flat on a pillow (if that makes any sense). One other thing I did is add an upper chest day consisting of a few incline chest excercises on my shoulder or arms days to bring up the lagging body part. So I would have a chest day and then three days later I would start my shoulder/arms day out with one or two incline chest excercises. Good luck bro.

AA


#12

Well that's a new one on me. You may want to call all of the major publishing companies so they can update their anatomy books.


#13

The pectorial major is a single muscle with one tendon attachment to the humerous (arm) that fans accross the rib cage. However, it is still a single muscle and muscles grow as a whole, not in parts. Think about it this way, if you could cause growth in one area of a single muscle that would inply that it's possible to shape a muscle, right? Well, we all know (at least I hope we do) that you cannot shape a muscle. The shape of your muscles are genetically predetermined.


#14

It really all about the mind Muscle Connection. You need to focus while doing your excercises on that particular muscle group/section , make sure that while performing slow precice movements you deliberatly incorporate using those muscles in your chest area , preferrably the upper. Use light weight so that while you do the excercises you can feel that section of your chest workign , get used to feeling it work , then you can go to heavier weight.

The key is to deliberatley use a muscle group by focusing on it during the excersice, for example protruding the chest a bit during bench but keeping in mind that you want to "FEEL" the muscle work . Hope this helps !!


#15

Really?

http://www.exrx.net/Muscles/PectoralisSternal.html
http://www.exrx.net/Muscles/PectoralisClavicular.html
http://ect.downstate.edu/courseware/haonline/figs/l04/040304.htm


#16

oh, SNAP.


#17

The pec is one muscle therefor you cant shape it. You should hit it from all angles to build it optimally though. With that said, read this post, its pretty informative. Its from a board member by the name of Belial:

The existence of the so-called "upper", "lower", "inner" and "outer" pectorals along with the assertion that it is possible to isolate one or more of these to the relative exclusion of the others in training, are among the most firmly entrenched myths in Strength Training and Bodybuilding circles. In fact none of these truly exist as either separate and distinct muscles or regions in a functional sense. Even though it could be argued that there appears to be a structural distinction between the upper and lower pectorals (and some anatomy texts do in fact support this distinction though not all do) because the pectoralis-major does originate from both the sternum and the proximal or sternal half of the clavicle along it?s anterior surface (it also has connections to the cartilages of all the true ribs with the frequent exception of the first and seventh, and to the Aponeurosis of the external oblique muscle), this is considered to be a common (though extensive) origin in terms of the mechanical function of the muscle. Thus the pectoralis-major is in fact for all practical purposes one continuous muscle with a common origin and insertion, and functions as a single force-producing unit. The terms upper, lower, inner and outer are imprecise and relevant only in order to make a vague subjective distinction between relative portions of the same muscle for descriptive purposes. They are vague and imprecise terms because there is no clearly delineated or universally defined border between them.
Further it is not physically possible either in theory or practice to contract one region of a single muscle to the exclusion of another region or regions (as a Biomechanics Professor of mine once demonstrated to a bunch of us smart-ass know-it-all?s taking his course, using EMG analysis). When a muscle contracts it does so in a linear fashion by simultaneously reducing the length of its constituent fibers and thus its overall length from origin to insertion. Even where a single muscle is separated into multiple functional units that are clearly defined such as the triceps (which are referred to as ?heads? by Anatomists and Biomechanists), because they share a common point of insertion in order for one head to shorten all must shorten. This only makes sense if you think about it because otherwise there would be ?slack? in one when the other shortened, which as we know does not occur. Note that there are some special cases where one head of a muscle must actually lengthen when the other shortens (e.g. the posterior head of the deltoid in relation to the anterior head during the positive stroke of fly?s), the point however is that even in these special cases there is no ?slack? because there is in fact contractile activity (whether concentric or eccentric) throughout the muscle.

That is not to say however, that all fibers in different areas, or heads are necessarily shortened to the same degree during a particular movement. Depending on the shape of the muscle, the joint geometry involved, and the specific movement being performed, fibers in one area of a muscle or head may be required to shorten more or less than in others (or even to lengthen) in order to complete the required movement. For example during a decline fly though muscle fibers in all regions of the pectoralis-major must shorten as the upper arm is drawn towards the median plane of the body, because of the angle of the arm in relation to the trunk the fibers in what we commonly refer to as the lower pecs will have shortened by a greater percentage of their overall length than those in the upper region of the muscle by the completion of the movement. Conversely when performing an incline fly there is greater shortening in the fibers towards the upper portion of the muscle than in the lower.

Many proponents of the so-called ?isolation? approach to training claim that this proportionally greater shortening of the fibers equates to greater tension in the ?target? region than in others, and therefore stimulates greater adaptation; but this is completely at odds with the cross-bridge model of muscle contraction which clearly shows that as fiber length decreases tension also declines due to increasing overlap and interference in the area of the cross-bridges. Some also contend that the fibers called upon to shorten to a greater degree tend to fatigue faster than others and that therefore there is greater overall fiber recruitment in the region where this occurs, and thus a greater stimulus to growth; but there is no evidence to suggest that a fiber fatigues faster in one position than in another in relation to other fibers in the same muscle. In fact it has been shown that Time Under Tension (TUT) is the determining factor in fatigue and not fiber length. In fact fiber recruitment tends to increase in a very uniform fashion throughout an entire muscle as fatigue sets in.

The ability to ?isolate? a head, or region of a muscle to the exclusion of others by performing a particular movement, or by limiting movement to a particular plane and thus develop it to a greater degree, is a myth created by people who wish to appear more knowledgeable than they are, and has been perpetuated by trade magazines and parroted throughout gyms everywhere. It is pure non-sense and completely ignores the applicable elements of physiology, anatomy, and physics in particular. Quite simply the science does not support it, and in most cases is completely at odds with the idea.
Regardless of the science however, many people will remain firmly convinced that muscle isolation is a reality because they can ?feel? different movements more in one region of a muscle than in others. This I do not dispute, nor does science. There is in fact differentiated neural feedback from motor units depending on the relative length of the component fibers, and this feedback tends to be (or is interpreted by the brain as) more intense when the fibers in question are either shortened (contracted) or lengthened (stretched) in the extreme. However this has to do with proprioception (the ability to sense the orientation and relative position of your body in space by interpreting neural feedback related to muscle fiber length and joint position) and not tension, fatigue, or level of fiber recruitment. Unfortunately it has been seized upon and offered up as ?evidence? by those looking to support their ideas by any means available.

Muscle shape is a function of genetics and degree of overall development. As you develop a muscle towards its potential, it does change in appearance (generally for the better) but always within the parameters defined by its inherent shape. A person who tends to have proportionately more mass towards the upper, lower, inner or outer region of his or her pectoralis-major will always have that tendency, though it may be more or less apparent at various stages in their development, and in most cases appears less pronounced as overall development proceeds. That is not to say that training a muscle group from multiple angles is totally without value. In fact we know that even subtly different movements can elicit varying levels of fiber recruitment within a muscle in an overall sense (i.e. in terms of the percentage of total available fibers) due to differences in joint mechanics, and neural activation patterns, as well as varying involvement of synergistic and antagonistic muscle groups involved. So by all means experiment with different angles in your training, but don?t expect to be able to correct so-called ?unbalanced? muscles this way, or to target specific areas of a particular muscle. Work to develop each of your muscles as completely as possible and shape will take care of itself. If you want to worry about ?shaping? you should pay more attention to the balance between different muscle groups and work to bring up any weak groups you may have in relation to the rest of your physique.


#18

Try elevated slide pushups.


#19

I prefer shallow inclines supersetted with incline flies. Heavy of course, 5x5 works best for me.


#20

Very good post.
To me what it boils down to is genetics of course, but with that said there is a "upper" head in a pure anatomical sense if you count the clavicular portion that has its orgin along the clavicle. This region can be "stressed" more directly with presses and flys on an incline according to popular wisdom. Do I buy into it? Yes I think I do. I believe that it is another tool to be used and that it could add more side and density to the "upper" region of the pec major.