Many men make the mistake of only working out their middle and lower pectorals, which can lead to a “man boob” look where you carry most of the muscle in your lower chest. Contrary to popular arguments, it is indeed possible to target your upper chest (you might notice that only the upper portion of your chest is sore from doing these exercises). Use these exercises to help balance and broaden your chest by adding muscle to the upper pectorals. Even if you are not concerned about carrying more weight in your lower chest, these exercises are still an important component of any chest or bodybuilding routine, for both men and women alike.
*Note that if you are carrying excess body fat in the lower chest area, you will also need to focus on more cardio to help burn the fat and reshape your chest (and check with your doctor to make sure you do not have a condition called gynecomastia).
Incline Press Machine
Incline Chest Press
The easiest way to perform the inclined chest press is on an incline chest press machine, such as the one pictured above. You can also use an inclined bench and barbell, which might not be the best exercise for beginners if you do not have a spotter. Dumbbells are usually a better choice for free-weights:
- Simply adjust the back of a weightlifting bench to a 45-degree angle.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells (if you are just starting out or do not have a spotter, select a light weight to see what you can handle and control on your own), sit on the bench, and support the dumbbells by placing the ends on your thighs.
- Then, lean back and simultaneously raise the dumbbells to your shoulders.
- Press the dumbbells straight up. You can use a palm-in grip or leave your palms facing forward, barbell-style, as shown in the video below (by Instructionalfitness).
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
Incline Pec Fly
The incline pec fly with dumbbells is also a great exercise for shaping and building that upper chest:
- Once again, you’ll want to adjust the back of the bench to a 45-degree angle.
- Grab some dumbbells at a weight you can control on your own.
- Sit on the bench and rest the dumbbells on your thighs for support.
- Simultaneously lean back and lift the dumbbells up to your chest, keeping your palms facing inward.
- Raise the dumbbell up, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Keep your elbows bent and locked into place throughout the entire exercise so that all of the movement goes into your chest.
- Slowly lower your arms to the side, stretching the chest, and then raise them back up to complete one rep. Try not to touch the dumbbells together at the top of the movement—leave some space between them so that you are keeping more tension on the chest throughout the set. The video below (by Instructionalfitness) shows how it’s done.
Incline Dumbbell Flyes
Cable Exercise for Upper Chest
You can also use cables to exercise the upper chest:
- You’ll want to locate a cable machine where you can position two separate grips lower than chest-height so that you are pulling the weight at an upward angle.
- Grab the grips, step forward if you need to in order to get tension on the cables, and slightly bend your elbows as if you are doing a standard dumbbell fly.
- Pull the cables by moving the grips upward toward face-height (so that your palms are facing your face).
- You can either move your hands to the point where your knuckles are almost touching, or take the exercise further and cross the cables. The video below (by Howcast) shows how to do the exercise by crossing the cables; by not crossing the cables, however, you might keep more of the tension in your chest, rather than shifting more of it toward the shoulders at the end of the movement.
Cable Crossover For Upper Chest
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on September 29, 2016:
Useful exercises. I certainly wouldn't be using weights as heavy as those but the exercises would be good for me too.