The Best Upper Chest Exercises for Stronger and Better-Looking Pecs

This video will provide you with the best upper Chest Exercises to build muscle, mass and strength for your pecs.

The upper chest is often a difficult part of the body for many lifters to develop.

Jeff from Athlean-X explains (and goes into further detail in the video below) how you need to understand the anatomy of the chest in order to comprehend which exercises to use and why.

Anatomy of the Chest

“It starts with a bit of anatomy of the upper pecs. 

This area of the chest has attachments at the clavicle and the humerus or upper arm bone.  The most important point however is that the direction of the fibres in this area run from up and in to down and out. 

Chest muscles

In other words, when your arm is placed at your side and away from your body, the upper chest is responsible for bringing it up and across your body at an angle.

If you adhere to the direction of these fibres and mimic the movement in your chest exercises, you will more effectively hit the upper chest. 

CrossFit-Chest-workouts Upper Chest Exercises

The fact that the upper pecs have a separate nerve innervation than the rest of the pec major allows you to neurologically target the area even more with a better focus and contraction.”

The best upper chest exercises according to Jeff Cavaliere are:

  1. UCV raise
  2. Dual cable UCV raise
  3. Dip
  4. Upper chest dip
  5. Pushaway pushup
  6. Sunrise/sunset
  7. One armed dumbbell shrug
  8. Upper chest upper cut
  9. Lean back cable press
  10. Jammer press
  11. Landmine rainbow

See the video below for more information about it.

Best Upper Chest Exercises – Video


  • 01:33 UCV raise
  • 01:50 Dual cable UCV raise
  • 02:42 Dip
  • 03:17 Upper chest dip
  • 04:00 Pushaway pushup
  • 05:03 Sunrise/sunset
  • 06:22 One armed dumbbell shrug
  • 06:55 Upper chest upper cut
  • 07:42 Lean back cable press
  • 09:20 Jammer press
  • 10:33 Landmine rainbow
  • 12:01 Wrap up

Check out the perfect 20 minute chest workout.

The Best Way to Isolate the Upper Chest for Significant Muscle Growth

Targeting the upper chest, specifically the upper portion of the pectoral muscles, offers several benefits for both aesthetics and functional strength. Here’s why it’s important to include exercises that target the upper chest in your workout routine:

  1. Aesthetic Balance: Developing a well-rounded chest with emphasis on the upper portion creates a balanced and visually appealing chest appearance. Aesthetic symmetry and muscle proportion contribute to an impressive physique.
  2. Full Chest Development: The chest is composed of two main sections: the upper chest (clavicular head) and the lower chest (sternocostal head). Focusing on upper chest exercises ensures comprehensive development and avoids the appearance of a “droopy” lower chest.
  3. Chest Definition: Developing the upper chest can enhance the definition and separation between the upper and lower chest areas, providing more muscular detail and depth.
  4. Support for Shoulder Health: Upper chest exercises often involve shoulder movement and stabilization. Strengthening the upper chest can indirectly support shoulder stability, reducing the risk of shoulder injuries during various exercises and activities.
  5. Functional Strength: Strong upper chest muscles contribute to overall upper body strength and power. This strength is useful for pushing movements, such as pressing heavy objects, performing push-ups, or engaging in sports activities that require upper body force.
  6. Improved Posture: Developing the upper chest can help improve your posture by countering the effects of forward shoulder rounding. A balanced and strong upper chest can help maintain a more upright and healthy posture.
  7. Enhanced Bench Press Performance: A well-developed upper chest can provide more power and stability during the bench press exercise, which is a fundamental compound movement in strength training.
  8. Variety and Muscle Activation: Incorporating exercises that target the upper chest adds variety to your workout routine and engages different muscle fibers. This can lead to more comprehensive muscle growth and development.

To target the upper chest effectively, include exercises such as incline bench press (with a barbell or dumbbells), incline dumbbell flyes, incline push-ups, and incline cable crossovers in your workout routine. It’s essential to have a balanced approach to chest training by targeting both the upper and lower portions to achieve optimal chest development. Remember that a well-rounded workout routine should also include exercises for other muscle groups and emphasize overall functional fitness. Always consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns.

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Training your chest can have a number of benefits for your overall fitness and physical health. Here are some reasons why you might want to train your chest:

  1. Strengthening your chest muscles: Chest exercises like bench press, push-ups, and dumbbell flyes can help you build stronger chest muscles. This can improve your overall upper body strength and make it easier to perform daily activities that require pushing or pulling.
  2. Aesthetics: A well-developed chest can enhance the appearance of your upper body, giving you a more balanced and proportional physique.
  3. Improved posture: A strong chest can also help improve your posture by pulling your shoulders back and helping you maintain a more upright position.
  4. Increased metabolism: Chest exercises can also help boost your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories throughout the day.
  5. Improved athletic performance: A strong chest can improve your performance in a variety of sports and activities that require upper body strength, such as basketball, football, and rock climbing.
crossfit womenSource: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Overall, training your chest can have numerous benefits for your physical health, appearance, and athletic performance. It’s important to incorporate a variety of exercises into your chest workout routine to ensure that you’re targeting all the muscles in your chest, as well as other muscles in your upper body.

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How Often Should You Train the Chest?

The frequency at which you should train your chest depends on several factors such as your fitness goals, overall fitness level, and your training program.

In general, it is recommended that you train your chest muscles at least once per week to see improvements in strength and muscle growth. However, some individuals may benefit from training their chest more frequently, such as 2-3 times per week, especially if they are more experienced lifters and are looking to target specific areas of the chest.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t train your chest muscles on consecutive days as this can lead to overtraining and increase the risk of injury. Additionally, it’s important to allow your muscles to rest and recover between workouts, so that they have time to repair and grow.

Source: Calibra / Pixabay

Overall, the frequency at which you should train your chest will depend on your individual goals and fitness level, so it’s best to consult with a certified fitness professional who can help you design a personalized workout plan that meets your needs.

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How Heavy Should you Lift When Training for Muscle Growth?

When training for muscle growth (hypertrophy), the weight you lift, often referred to as the training load or intensity, is an important factor to consider. Here are some guidelines to help determine how heavy you should lift:

Use a weight that challenges you: To promote muscle growth, it’s important to use a weight that challenges your muscles. This means selecting a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions within the hypertrophy rep range (generally 8 to 12 reps) with proper form, while also feeling challenging towards the end of each set.

Choose a weight that elicits fatigue: The weight you select should cause fatigue in the target muscles by the end of each set. You should feel a sense of muscular burn or fatigue during the final few reps, indicating that the weight is appropriately challenging.

Progressive overload: To continue building muscle, it’s crucial to gradually increase the demands on your muscles over time. This can be achieved through progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the weight you lift as your muscles adapt and grow stronger. Aim to progressively increase the weight as you become more comfortable with a certain weight range to continue stimulating muscle growth.

Form and technique: While it’s important to challenge yourself with heavier weights, it’s equally important to prioritize proper form and technique. Lifting weights that are too heavy and compromise your form can increase the risk of injury and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Focus on maintaining good form throughout each repetition, even when using challenging weights.

Source: Scott Webb

Individual capabilities: The appropriate weight will vary depending on your individual capabilities, strength level, and experience. What may be heavy for one person might be light for another. It’s important to listen to your body and select weights that are appropriate for your current fitness level.

Variation in training: Incorporating a variety of rep ranges and training modalities can be beneficial for overall muscle development. While the hypertrophy rep range (8-12 reps) is commonly associated with muscle growth, including both higher rep ranges (12-15+) and lower rep ranges (6-8) in your training can provide different stimuli and promote well-rounded muscle development.

Remember, finding the right weight is a process of trial and error. Start with a weight that challenges you within the recommended rep range, and adjust as needed based on your individual capabilities and progression. Consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer can also provide guidance and help you determine the appropriate weight selection for your specific goals and needs.

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