A Comprehensive Guide to Upper Chest Exercises

A Comprehensive Guide to Upper Chest Exercises

The chest muscle, scientifically referred to as the pectoralis, is a large muscle group that lies at the front of the chest. It is made up of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The upper chest, also known as the upper pecs or clavicular pectoralis, is a crucial area to target for an overall defined, strong and balanced chest.

Having a well-developed upper chest is not only aesthetically pleasing but also provides functional strength in everyday movements and various sports. Despite its importance, the upper chest is often overlooked in workout routines. This article aims to highlight specific exercises and training methods designed to effectively target and develop the upper chest.

Understanding the Upper Chest

The upper chest is the part of the pectoralis major that attaches to the collarbone (clavicle). While you can’t isolate the upper chest completely, you can emphasize this region with particular movements and angles. By positioning the body and manipulating the angle of resistance, one can shift the workload towards the upper chest fibers.

Upper chest exercises fall into two broad categories: pushing and fly movements. Push exercises are compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups and joints, like the bench press. Fly movements are isolation exercises that primarily target the chest, like the dumbbell fly.

Key Exercises for the Upper Chest

1. Incline Barbell Bench Press

Recognized for its ability to focus on the chest muscles, the Incline Barbell Bench Press is a popular workout. By modifying the bench’s angle to an incline, it allows for an intensified workout on the upper section of the chest.

2. Incline Dumbbell Press

This exercise is similar to the incline barbell press, but using dumbbells allows for a greater range of motion. Sit on an incline bench holding two dumbbells at shoulder width. With a controlled movement, lower the dumbbells until they are level with your chest, then press them back up to the starting position.

3. Incline Dumbbell Fly

This motion focuses solely on the pectoral muscles by reducing the participation of the triceps, which are usually engaged in press movements. Position yourself on an angled bench while holding a pair of dumbbells, with your palms oriented towards one another. Gently curve your elbows and descend the dumbbells laterally until your chest experiences a stretch. Afterward, reunite the dumbbells at the highest point.

4. Low to High Cable Fly

This exercise uses cables to provide consistent tension on the chest muscles throughout the motion. Stand between two low pulley cable machines with a handle in each hand. Starting with your arms down and slightly in front of you, pull the handles up and in, crossing in front of your chest. Slowly reverse the movement.

5. Landmine Press

This underrated exercise targets the upper chest and shoulders effectively. Stand holding the end of a barbell secured into a landmine attachment. Press the barbell up and out at an angle, extending your arm fully, then bring it back to the chest.

Incorporating These Exercises into Your Routine

Include these exercises in your upper-body or chest-specific workout days. Remember, the key to muscle growth is progressive overload, so aim to gradually increase the weight or reps over time.

Pay special attention to the mind-muscle connection during each exercise. This connection can enhance your focus on the upper chest during the movement, leading to improved muscle activation.


Building an impressive upper chest is an endeavor that requires a strategic approach, determination, and consistency. With the right mix of compound and isolation exercises, you can target the upper pecs effectively and achieve a balanced, powerful chest. Always remember that good form, appropriate resistance, and steady progression are the keys to safe and effective strength training. Furthermore, complement your training with a balanced diet and adequate rest to ensure optimal muscle growth and recovery. Lastly, be patient. Building muscle takes time, but with dedication, the results will come.