A huge chest is generally considered to be one of the showcase body parts on a bodybuilding stage that separates the Pros from the Joes. A thickly developed set of pectoral muscles that sit wide and balanced from top to bottom will help give you that 3-D look that everyone is after and give you that much needed edge to beat out your competition. The only way to attain this look is by addressing the areas of your chest that need more growth and nine times out of ten, the area of the chest that can always use more muscle mass is the upper region. For some reason or another (my guess is that everyone growing up does push ups as a first chest movement without even realizing it and flat bench is the next natural progression to that) the upper pecs always seem to lag behind in development. So for that reason, much attention should be given to filling in this area so that when the time comes, you can present a balanced and thickly developed chest that will leave the crowd in awe of what they're witnessing. Here's how you do it.
Make Incline Movements the Priority
Everybody knows that the flat bench press is the king of all chest mass exercises. Even people who don't lift will ask how much you can bench simply because it's probably the most well known exercise on the planet. With that said, as time moves on and you get deeper into your bodybuilding career, it isn't always about how much you can bench anymore but rather how much evenly distributed muscle mass you can put on. This is when you have to make the switch to utilizing more incline movements in your routine and putting these exercises first in your program. An incline of about 30-45 degrees is what you want to be working with as this range of angles seems to target the upper pecs, right below the clavicle, best while eliminating most if not all of the front deltoids from coming into play. I would suggest you perform at least two incline pressing movements, followed by an incline flye movement and then if you want, finish off with a flat pressing movement and this should allow you to start seeing some new upper pec mass.
Stretch then Press
Far too often when I see people training in the gym on either the flat bench press or the incline press, what I notice many doing is focusing more on the concentric part of the exercise versus the eccentric. I know that everyone wants to be able to press a ton of weight here, but it always comes at the expense of something; in this case it comes at the expense of missing out on all that a great stretch offers. You'll see a lot of people stopping an inch or two off their chest prior to pressing the weight back up. Doing this does not allow for you to maximize the stretch in your pecs and therefore downgrades the effectiveness of your reps. Especially in the case of the upper pecs where you really need to focus on feeling that part of the muscle work, you want to exaggerate the stretch, feel the upper pecs lengthening out and then press the weight back up. To help you do this, what you should be doing is slowly lower the barbell or dumbbells down as far as you can until you feel the stretch. Then once in that position, further enhance the stretch by tilting your elbows back just a little bit, then pause for a second to really feel that stretch, then explode up and into a nice contraction. The pump you will get in the upper pecs from doing your reps this way will be second to none.
Incorporate a Flat Press
Now here's something that you probably weren't expecting me to say here, but in your quest to build upper pec mass, you should most definitely include a flat pressing exercise. Not just any flat pressing movement, but one that has come to be one of my favourites for attacking the upper chest and one that has come to be a staple in the routines of anyone I've shown this exercise to. I'm not laying claim to creating this exercise because I didn't. I read about it in an old MuscleMag International Magazine years and years ago and forgot about it until recently, but the exercise I'm referring to is called a throat press. The throat press, in my opinion, should be performed in a Smith Machine because you want to ensure that the positioning of the barbell on every single rep is exactly in the same spot each time and so that you can ensure safety for the duration of the set. To perform the throat press, set a flat bench up in the Smith Machine so that when the barbell is lowered, it comes right down to just under your chin and onto your throat. Keep your elbows angled back the whole time and really focus on stretching out your pecs so that you can get the barbell down as deep and as close to your throat as possible. The standard flat press has you lowering the bar down to your mid to lower pecs, so this range of motion will be much different from what you're used to and an excellent way to target the upper pecs. Give it a try and I bet you'll be doing them every time you train chest from here on out.
Possessing thickly developed upper pecs is just as important as possessing as many pairs of Super Shift Bodybuilding Shoes as you can and you can't have one without the other. Work on filling in that gap in your upper chest region with the strategies mentioned above and be meticulous in how you do it. There's no reason to have a weak chest and there's no reason to have a weak shoe game either so get your orders in now before our new stock is gone!
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.