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Simple Exercises for a Wonderful and Holistic Upper Chest Workout Routine

May 21, 2021


The upper chest is a popular muscle group for men, but most people don't know how to train it properly.

In fact, many guys do the wrong exercises and end up with an overdeveloped upper body that makes them look unbalanced. 

Or even worse, people overdo it and wear down their bodies and experience a sports injury.

However, we understand that the strong chest muscles create an aesthetic appearance that most people find attractive. So we made this guide that offers proven workouts you can use when training your chest muscles. Hence, you get the best (and healthiest) results possible!

Are the upper chest muscles hard to build?

The chest muscles are known as the pectoralis or pecs. The upper pecs are hard to develop, but when properly exercised, the workout can add height and dimension to the overall development of the pecs. 

The chest is often divided into three arbitrary muscle groups: 

  1. Upper Chest
  2. Mid Chest
  3. Lower Chest

This distinction is made in the gym so that an athlete can target growth in different parts of the chest.

Know the "line of pull" to have an effective upper chest workout

Every muscle attaches to a bone. The line of pull is when one end of the muscle attaches to a bone, and the other end connects with another bone.

In the upper part of your chest, one end of the chest muscle attaches high on your arm bone near your armpit. The upper part of the chest muscle attaches to the other end on the top third of your chest. The rest of it connects to your collar bone.

Therefore, the line of pull is either horizontal but high in the chest region or diagonal upwards towards the throat.

Some recommended warm-ups for upper chest development

Let us get into the details of some of the best upper chest workout routines.

Warm-up with 10 minutes of cardio and/or dynamic stretching

Before engaging in upper body exercise, it is essential to warm up the muscles.

The best way to do this is by performing a light aerobic workout, i.e., some jogging on the spot or skipping rope for around 15 minutes before continuing with your upper chest exercises.

Another excellent alternative warm-up routine is Tai Chi.

This is an ancient martial arts form that incorporates slow, graceful movements and deep breathing to prepare the body for exercise.

Tai Chi warms up all muscle groups gently, reducing their risk of injury before they are put under pressure by lifting weights or doing any other upper pecs training exercises.

Loosen the rotator cuffs

A rotator cuff is are muscles and tendons located around the joints in your shoulder.

They're responsible for stabilizing and lifting your arm, so they need to be loose to do their job effectively.

Shoulder injuries often stem from tight rotator cuffs and other areas of the upper back.

A few simple stretches will do the trick to loosen up the rotator cuff area.

Since we believe in holistic health practices for our fitness training, we recommend doing some simple Tai Chi or Yoga to warm up your shoulder and arms.

Plank Pose

The plank yoga pose is great for activating and stabilizing your upper pecs before your chest workout.

To do the plank pose:

  1. Place hands on the ground shoulder-width apart beneath shoulders, fingers pointing forward or in a "V." 
  2. Balance weight evenly between palms and toes, lifting hips off the mat while keeping legs straight, so the back forms a flat line from head to heels.
  3. Hold this position for up to five minutes if desired.
  4. Remember to focus on your breaths.

To maintain good form, contract the stomach and buttocks muscles while applying pressure with feet against the floor.

This will protect your shoulders from getting injured.

Don't drop elbows or round the spine (be mindful of posture). Use a prop under the knees if needed.

Cow Face Arms Pose

This also is an excellent stretch for your upper pecs and arms before your main upper chest exercise.

It creates external rotation in the upper arm and internal rotation in the lower arm, and abduction (pulling) for both arms.

To do the cow face arms pose:

  1. Sit down in a comfortable position. Stretch your back by pushing your butt into the ground and straighten your spine.
  2. Bring your right arm out and then up. 
  3. Bend your elbow. 
  4. Grab your right elbow with your left hand and slowly bring it to the center of your back behind your head.
  5. Lean weight back slightly.
  6. Release your left arm and bring it to your side towards your yoga mat.
  7. Slide the fingers of your left hand up your back as far as you can and try to interlock your fingers.
  8. You can use a band or rope because you can interlock your hands.
  9. Hold this pose.

Do not round your spine or tuck your chin.

Breathe into the stretch and then repeat on the other side.

General tips for these exercises:

Tip #1: Breath control

 Fuel the pecs through proper rep breathing

Tip #2: Drink water

Proper hydration is vital to athletes. It helps the muscle areas recover from chest workouts out and helps them prevent sports injuries that they might get from working out.

Tip #3: Set a realistic goal

The main point of upper chest exercises is to feel good about your body.

However, the temptation is to overdo it during your workout with a "no pain, no gain" approach. This can lead to burnout and worse injury, preventing you from reaching your goals with your chest exercise.

The Best Upper Chest Exercises

Here's a list of some of the best upper chest exercises for you to practice your training at the gym next time.

Do a set of push-ups

After the warm-up, the first upper chest exercise to do is a push-up.

This can be done on any soft surface. The pushup will target your chest and the triceps in your upper arms and shoulders.

To make sure you develop your pecs, do three sets of 15 pushups.


Perform a push-up with your hands on an unstable surface like an exercise ball for core strengthening alongside your upper chest workout.

Just be aware of your push-up posture (keep your back straight/core tight) to avoid injury to your lower back.

Incline bench press dumbbell flys


In the third set of chest exercises, do incline bench dumbbell flys, which target your upper chest.

The incline bench press dumbbell flys are performed on an adjustable backrest inclined at about 45 degrees.

This is a safer alternative to your traditional flat-surfaced dumbbell bench press. 

Incline bench press dumbbell flys work by targeting all three parts of your chest muscles (upper, middle, and lower).

To do incline bench dumbbell flys, start with your upper back inclined (flat) and a dumbbell in each hand.

Straighten out your arms, pushing the weights towards each other overhead. Your hands should be directly above your elbows as you perform this exercise.

Bring them back down to chest level before repeating for the desired number of repetitions (don't let your elbow dip below your shoulder blades).

Do not allow your arms to cross as you do this exercise.

If they start to, stop the set and re-adjust them to parallel each other again before continuing on.

Make sure to take your time with the fly's and don't overdo it to prevent injury.

Perform equal repetitions of these flys for both sides of your chest muscles (left and right). Repeat until the desired number of sets is complete.

##Incline chest press with a barbell or dumbbell

The incline barbell bench press or incline dumbbell bench press is an excellent great workout to target the upper chest.

The incline bench press can be done with either dumbells or a barbell. Still, you should start with a lighter weight and progress gradually to heavier weights as you develop the strength for it.

To perform the incline bench press with a barbell exercise.

Lie down on an inclined bench set at 45-degrees or more (the steeper incline you use, the greater your upper chest will be activated).

Then, grab hold of either two dumbbells or one barbell and hold them above your upper chest with palms facing in, shoulder-width apart.

Shoot for a weight that's about 50% of what you can handle, and then perform the incline bench press movement while exhaling to push up the weights.

Press until arms are fully locked out before slowly lowering back down onto the bench. That is one repetition!

Standing cable flys

Standing cable flys are also a great way to target the upper pecs. Stand in front of the pulley machine with an overhand grip on each handle and position feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly.

Keeping elbows close to your sides, bend at the waist until forearms touch thighs (don't round back) before returning to the starting position.

Do a total of up to 15 reps, resting for 30 seconds between each set or as needed.

Standing barbell chest crunches

Hold a heavy barbell with two hands (or stationary object). Contract your upper chest muscles and pull until your upper torso crunches down (1/4 way) towards the hands.

Hold this position for two seconds before slowly releasing the tension on your upper chest muscles.

Grip the bench with both of your hands.

Sit upright and grip one side of an exercise bench, using both arms to hold yourself up. Then, contracting your upper chest by pulling down (towards the ground), extend until you're in a full upper chest crunch position.

Hold this for two seconds before slowly relaxing your upper muscles and lower back to release the tension on them.

Repeat on the other side of the bench, alternating between hands gripping each time.

Decline push up

This upper chest workout starts with your hands on the floor, feet on a higher surface to create a 45-degree angle.

Contracting your upper chest, pull up (keep your body rigid) until you're in a full pushup position.

Hold that position for two seconds before slowly releasing the tension on your upper chest and returning to starting position.

Post-Workout Tips

Eat a healthy, balanced meal after your workout

The best way to recover from a strenuous chest workout is by eating healthy food.

Eating foods high in protein and carbohydrates will provide your body with the nutrients it needs for recovery while stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Meals should include lean proteins such as chicken or fish. Also include vegetables like broccoli or green beans rich in iron, which helps replenish red blood cells lost during exercise.


Just like your pre-workout, you should do some stretching. Static stretching like yoga is excellent for a cool down from your upper chest workouts.

Allow time for muscle recovery

It is crucial to allow enough time for music and joint recovery after a strenuous workout.

It can be challenging to rest when you have goals, but it's worth the effort if you give yourself plenty of rest periods between chest workouts!

Safety Tips

It's essential to be careful with muscle growth workout plans.

If you're just starting out, it's best to start with a few light sets and some exercises that don't put too much strain on your shoulders.

Resist the urge to increase weight or reps every workout session.

The muscle fibers in your upper pecs are "fast-twitch muscle fibers." These types of fibers will quickly fatigue. 

The rotator cuff muscle can easily get strained when going from a light workout to something more intense.

This is especially true for people who don't work out regularly or have past shoulder injuries before starting their upper chest workout.

If you're new to weightlifting, start with low weights that allow your muscles to develop. Always work with a trained professional to ensure you don't hurt yourself during your upper chest workouts.


Upper chest exercises are trendy. We all want to look good on the beach and feel confident in our skin.

We discussed the best upper chest exercises to help you reach your goals; however, don't overdo it!

Always include rest and some sort of dynamic or static stretching exercise into your workout.

Again, Yoga and Tai Chi are the two we think are best.

It's also important not to neglect other muscle groups as well!

For example, try including squats in your routine for lower back health or take on bicep curls if you want stronger arm muscles.

A healthy workout regime will also include cardio, such as running or cycling. This helps burns fat but also helps improve heart function by increasing blood flow throughout the body.


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