Fill your upper pecs with muscle!
Training the upper chest is of high priority for many, even though such a muscle group technically does not exist. Your chest is made up by one muscle, and the muscle fibers on its upper part may get more stimuli from certain exercises. So, if you compile a smart chest program, the results you can achieve in developing the upper part of your chest will be pretty impressive.
I bet you guys all know the feeling when you are reluctant to dress up after a hardcore chest workout, as your clothes would conceal all you keep working for, spending hours in the gym each week. But you just cannot walk around half-naked in the streets, right? Especially in winter. It would be great if those lousy pecs were visible all the time, not only when you are posing in your tiny tank tops at the gym. It should be visible in everyday life, too. Everyone should see that you do not only go to the gym to chat. It’s your lucky day: there is hope. But before we proceed, let’s review a traditional chest workout.
The “oldschool” way
First exercise. It’s not a big secret: in 90% of the cases, the horizontal bench press is the first exercise of the chest workout. After all, it is a basic exercise; you can use heavy weights, which is essential for more muscle growth, you might say (and you are not totally wrong). Okay, let’s move on. Incline press. This exercise is also included in most training programs, right after the horizontal bench press, when your pecs, tricepses and shoulders are pre-exhausted. So the efficiency is much lower now. If you are really determined, you might add decline presses, too, which will work the same muscle fibers you have already bombed with the bench presses, only with a smaller range. And last but not least, you may finish with incline flyes. But instead, unfortunately, most guys end up at the pec-deck machine, which does nothing but simulate flyes on horizontal bench. Complicated exercises like pullovers are less popular. And I bet you have never thought of varying the angle of the bench within the same exercise (even by doing each set with different inclination).
Anything that strikes the eye for the first sight? Yes, you are right: The upper part of the chest is neglected. You only get down to working it when you are already exhausted, so you cannot provide these muscle fibers with the stimuli they would deserve. The result? Flat pecs, which might look good when pumped right after workout, but they are less spectacular under your T-shirt. Also the upper part lacks the density which in fact makes the difference between chest-biceps-only guys from those who take workout seriously.
It is very simple. However, it might not boost your ego the same way. Forget the horizontal bench and the incline bench, too, for a while. Incline presses, flyes performed in various angles and pullover will get just enough stimuli for the whole area of the chest muscle, including the upper part, which can only be worked effectively by these exercises. After a few months, a brand new chest will look back at you from the mirror.
And now, let’s see an example for a chest workout based on the above principles:
Incline barbell press 4 Sets 8-12 Reps 2 minutes Rest
Incline dumbbell press with the angle of the bench
aried between 15° and 45° 3 Sets 10-12 Reps 1 minute Rest
with the angle of the bench varied between 15° and 45° for each set 3 Sets 12-15 Reps 1 minute Rest
Pullover 2 Sets 15-20 Reps 1 minute Rest
As you can see, there are no horizontal presses. On the other hand, the angle is varied in each exercise, which ensures your muscles will be bombed from various angles, too. You will be astonished of the pumped feeling this multi-angle load will get you in your whole chest, not only in the upper muscle fibers. You should not make a mistake like increasing training volume or the number of exercises for your chest just because the upper part is lagging behind. You should simply remodel your training program in a way that grants more stimuli for the muscle fibers in the upper area.
Workout tip: If you feel you need more intensity, try to perform flyes and dumbbell presses in supersets. And if you feel really hardcore, you might even try combining flyes, dumbbell presses and pullovers in trisets. However, we do not recommend that you start like that.
Provided that you work each muscle group once a week, the above training program will be alright to start with. And if you do full-body workout, you can easily replace the traditional bench press with the incline barbell or dumbbell versions.
Dare to break the tradition and ignore questions like “how much do you bench”. Instead, go for really sPECtacular pecs!
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