Chest workout part 1: Four exercises for your upper chest

Few people know that the chest has three different portions - upper, middle and lower chest. It takes a three-day workout to complete a full chest routine.

Myupchar December 06, 2019 13:08:31 IST
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Chest workout part 1: Four exercises for your upper chest

What do most Bollywood actors have in common these days? A muscular physique highlighted by a super-defined chest. This is probably why many men nowadays want to achieve the same look.

Our chest muscles extend from the upper collarbone to just above the abdomen. The chest is a big muscle group: few people know that the chest has three different portions - upper, middle and lower chest. This is why it takes a three-day workout to complete a full chest routine.

Chest workout part 1 Four exercises for your upper chest

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Pectoral muscles in the upper chest are the hardest to train. The pectoralis major—popularly known as the pecs—is a set of six muscle fibres that control the functions of the upper arm bone (humerus) as well as the shoulders. For this reason, upper chest workouts are designed to work with the shoulder and deltoids (triangular muscle in the upper arm). To achieve the desired results for your pecs, you also need to build up your shoulders.

You can always train hard to get the body that you always desired. But before beginning a workout, always remember to warm up: do mobility exercises such as rotating your arms in the air, making big circles with your hips, stretching your chest, legs, and arms for five minutes before going full steam ahead. If you are working out early morning, make sure you get at least a minute or two of cardio in your warm-up, too. Jog on the spot, do jumping jacks or high-knees to get the heart pumping.

Precaution: Do not try these exercises in the absence of a trainer or an experienced person who can correct your posture and guide you on the correct way to increase the weights.

Upper-chest workout routine

1. Decline push-ups

Push-ups are one of the best exercises to pump up the pecs and warm up before a workout with weights. A push-up has many variations - conventional, diamond, incline and decline. Decline push-ups are a great way to begin an upper chest workout, as they not only work your upper chest but also activate the deltoids.

Equipment required: A bench, chair or any raised platform

Sets & reps: 3 sets of 15 reps each

Intensity: Low (beginner)

How to do it:

  • Stand facing away from the bench, leaving a few feet distance between you and the bench.
  • Come into the plank position, by placing your palms on the floor, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, lock your elbows and your knees. Now, one by one, take your feet up on the bench.
  • Slowly do a push-up by bending the elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground.
  • Now slowly push your chest away from the ground by extending the elbows. This is one rep.

Tip: If you don’t have a bench, you can also use a table or the edge of a bed.

2. Incline bench press

The primary target of this exercise is the upper pecs of the chest, but it's also analogous to a shoulder press so you additionally train your shoulders.

Equipment required: An incline bench, a barbell rod of 16 inches and weights as per your comfort level

Sets & reps: First set, 15 reps

Second set, 12 reps

Third set, 10 reps

Intensity: Moderate (beginner to experienced)

How to do it:

  • Set the bench at 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Lie down with your back on the bench.
  • Ask a buddy for help here: Hold the barbell rod with an underhand grip (palms facing away from your body) at shoulder-width distance.
  • Push the barbell upward by extending your arms and locking your elbows.
  • Now bring it down slowly with a controlled movement until it touches the upper chest region. This is one rep. 

Tip: Try to focus on your upper chest region while bringing down the barbell.

3. Incline dumbbell press

This is comparable to the incline bench press, as it also trains the pectoral muscles of the upper chest region. You will also be using your deltoids in this exercise.

Equipment required: An incline bench and a pair of dumbbells

Sets & reps: First, set 15 reps

Second set, 12 reps

Third set, 10 reps

Intensity: Moderate (experienced to professional)

How to do it:

  • Set the bench at 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Lie down on the bench facing upward.
  • Now hold the dumbbells with an underhand grip slightly above the shoulder level.
  • Push the dumbbells up by extending your arms and locking your elbows. 
  • Now bring them down slowly with a controlled movement until you reach the level of your upper chest.
  • This is one rep.

Tip: Do not swing your hands at any point.

4. Cable crossover

This exercise stretches the pectoral muscles of the upper chest region and creates stress on the outer pec muscle fibres. To target your upper pecs, you need to set the position of the pulleys to the lowest setting.

Equipment required: Cable crossover machine (available at gyms only).

Sets & reps: 3 sets of 15 reps each for professionals and 3 sets of 8 reps each for beginners

Intensity: Beginner to professional

How to do it:

  • Grab both the pulley rods with an overhand grip (palms facing your body) with elbows bent at 90-degrees.
  • Facing away from the machine place one foot ahead of the other and lean forward.
  • While extending the arms to straighten them, push both the pulleys forward.
  • Now, while coming back to the starting position, move your arms back to your side by bending the elbows. This is one rep. 

Tip: The movement should only occur at the shoulder joint instead of arms or torso.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please visit our section on Fitness.

This is the first article in a three-part series on the complete chest workout.

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