A Complete Upper Chest Workout For Bigger Pecs

Having a well-developed chest is a goal most guys have.  The common approach to developing more mass in the chest is doing traditional bench presses.  However, in order to achieve a well-developed pec region the trick lies in working on the upper chest region with a good upper chest workout.

Want A Full Chest?  Why Your Chest May Look Underdeveloped

Too often guys complain that they are lacking mass in the chest area.  Even though they do different variations or simply stick to doing heavy weight on barbell bench presses there lacks fullness in this muscle group.

If you are focusing your strength and workouts on just doing bench presses then you have to make changes now in order to achieve your full potential.  Exercises like barbell bench presses and dumbbell chest presses as well as typical dumbbell and cable flys only target the middle chest and don’t work on the areas as much.  Although it is common for us to think that the chest is one large muscle group in reality it is more complex.

All Good Things Come in 3’s:  The Anatomy of The Chest

The chest is not as simple as it may look.  Many muscle fibers cross the area and are divided in the following way.

  • Upper Chest
  • Middle Pecs
  • Lower Chest

These muscle fibers connect in the sternum, located down the center of the chest area and extend out to the rib cage.  Because the muscle group is divided this way it is necessary to work on each area as best as possible. If you only target the middle portion it will not create the necessary balance and the appearance of a full chest.

Why Bench Presses Are Overrated

As stated earlier, the traditional bench press involves the middle chest region more than other areas of the pectorals.  Although it does involve the lower chest to some extent it does so more than the upper chest fibers.  Bench presses are not entirely bad; in fact they are excellent in boosting mass and testosterone levels.  This exercise is a great compound movement and it has its purpose but it is only part of the equation when developing mass.

What You Can Do Today To Increase Upper Chest

Here are my recommendations if you are serious about gaining upper chest mass.

  • Begin your chest workouts with an exercise that targets upper chest like incline bench press, dumbbell incline chest press or the bodyweight exercise variation.
  • If you are going to continue with regular bench presses do them after an incline exercise.
  • When doing dumbbell flys or cable flys perform an incline version of these exercises instead of regular cable flyes or flat dumbbell flyes.

Although there are various ways to workout upper chest, the following routine is a very complete and great upper chest workout.

A Solid Upper Chest Workout

  • Incline Barbell Bench Press:  Set the bench at an angle between 20 and 45 degrees.  Do not bring the arm level below 90 degrees to avoid shoulder injury.

Perform 4 sets of 8-10 reps

  • Decline Barbell Or Dumbbell Bench Press:  Set the angle of the bench around 20 to 30 degrees.  This exercise is excellent at full chest development.  Although most people think this exercise only targets the lower pecs, it actually targets more muscle fibers than a flat bench press and even hits the upper region thus making it a great way to workout upper chest muscles.

Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press:  Perform the same way as an incline barbell bench press. If you do not have dumbbells and only have a barbell do not worry.  Just add one more set to your incline flys.

Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

  • Incline Flys:  With a bench set at an incline of 20 to 45 degrees perform flys with a slight bend at the elbows and focus on contracting the pec muscles at the peak.

Perform 2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

You can eliminate flat bench presses for a few months, as it will allow the upper chest to develop in the meanwhile.

Check The Pace

For the above workout, and for any strength-training workout, you should follow time under tension principles.  Do not perform your repetitions too fast but rather do a slow and controlled motion.  I recommend a series of 3 second repetitions- one second on the positive and 2 seconds on the negative part of the movement.

As you can see, it is not as hard as you may think to develop a great looking chest.  You don’t have to worry about having a sunken appearance in your upper body.  With this upper chest workout you will very likely see the gains you have been looking for.

Feel free to comment below to join the discussion or if you have questions.


  1. I used to bench a lot, but I found I had more of a man- breast look (which is common when guys bodyfat creeps up a little bit), so I had to go back to the drawing board. Nowadays I focus on upper and outer chest and I find the look is a lot better.

    I totally agree with what you say about keeping the muscle under tension too, its easy to ignore this and just try to lift more weight for the ego, but the chest really responds when you do it right.


    • Sam Munoz says:

      Hey Michael,
      I definitely focus on working on the chest from various angles. Neglecting the other regions and simply doing regular bench presses is not the way to go. I also feel that proper form is important along with time under tension. I hate seeing guys bounce the weight off their chest. If only they took their time they would achieve better results.

  2. Nice upper chest workout. In addition to the exercises you mentioned, I think pushups are a great way to develop a good chest. Decline pushups in particular work the upper chest nicely.

  3. I agree with Dave. Doing decline pushups help develop my chest before I seriously starting lifting weights. I believe that if someone solely performed and improved in pushups (along with having low body fat) will have a well-developed chest. Nonetheless, using weight exercises for the upper-chest, as you displayed, will increase the size of the overall chest. Nice article!

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Hi Marcus,
      I definitely agree that lowering body fat is the best option if you want to get a well developed looking chest. Lower body fat makes every well developed muscle group look better and look leaner.
      Thanks for stopping by Marcus.


  4. I also agree that lower body fat can make the difference in the look of your muscles. being a wrestler I believe that supersetting your chest workout with a tricep or shoulder workout you can get good result. Cardiovascular should never be forgotten, because as you add muscle weight your heart takes on additional work and you need to keep the heart in good shape.

    • Hi Jackson,
      It’s interesting that you bring up the point about cardiovascular exercise being important as you do more work. Way back a friend of mine told me that cardio and cardiovascular health helps you lift more and do better with weight training. I believe he is right. A good heart helps the body handle more work and a bigger load when it comes to working with weights.

      Thanks for stopping by.