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  • Writer's pictureAustin Nicoson

The 3 Upper Chest Exercises You've Been Missing!

If you’re like 99.8% of guys in the gym, you want that huge upper chest like Arnold in his heyday.

But unlike Arnold, you’re probably missing 3 badass exercises from your program that’ll make the dream come true.

But before we dive in, it’s important to remember that no exercise will build the muscle you desire if it’s not complemented with the right nutrition and overall lifestyle.

Be sure to send me a message if you have any questions on what that could mean for you!

Pec Deck Fly Variation

Now we all know that the pec deck is a staple in any chest building routine. It does an incredible job of activating the full chest spectrum in a controlled, smooth manner. But I seldom see people using the pec deck to specifically target the upper chest.

Lower the seat of the pec deck all the way to the bottom, you won’t be sitting down.

Instead, place your lower back/upper ass on the pad of the machine, then drop your chest about a quarter of the way down (roughly 45 degree angle relative to the machine).

This is the key to the movement.

By standing rather than sitting, you can slightly adjust the height and angle of your chest in order to favor contractions in the upper portion.

Grip the handles as you would normally, I favor the “gripless" technique, meaning I leave my palms open & just place the handle in the middle of my palm.

As you go through the movement I want you to focus on driving the handles together by pressing through the bottom part of your palm. So if you turn your palms slightly up as you reach the peak contraction, the part of your palm that runs directly below your pinky should be the main source of force. You should feel the upper/middle portion of your chest firing like crazy!

Cable Press Variation

Like the pec deck, if you’re not already incorporating cable presses you’re sadly missing out! However, by making some small adjustments we can really hone in on that upper/middle chest.

Using a universal cable machine, place the lever arms at mid-height (usually a “5” or “6” height setting) & at a fairly wide-width (typically a “6” or “7” horizontal setting).

Go ahead and grip the D-handles as you normally would, again I opt to use a “gripless” technique.

Bring the handles a few steps from the machine and position yourself into a staggered stance so that you have your back foot for foundation support. At this point you should bring the handles up so that they’re directly in line with your upper chest & elbows are outside shoulder width.

Your elbows should be up, but not so high they’re parallel to the floor (this is something you’ll be better able to determine once you're actually do the exercise).

Now for the important part….lower your chest just like with the pec deck, so that your upper body is at about a 45 degree angle relative to the your lower body. This is your starting position.

As you press, keep your chest totally stable (no raising or lowering) & again, press through the bottom portion of your palm. Your elbows should move slightly in towards your body as you progress through the movement.Think of it like an incline dumbbell press in the sense that you’re pressing out & in at the top of the movement, holding at peak contraction for a few seconds.

Single Arm Cable Crossover Fly

Using a cable machine & a D-handle, position your body directly in line with the cable and adjust the height setting so that it’s all the way at the bottom. In other words, your shoulders should be in line with the cable pulley. After grabbing the handle go ahead and take a few steps away (laterally) from the pulley.

Keeping your shoulder square, your chest up, and your arms locked with a slight bend at the elbow, raise the handle across your body & up. The key is to raise up to the peak point of contraction of the chest, any higher and you'll likely start recruiting your front delt. Also, keep the handle tight to your body.

I would consider this exercise fairly advanced, in the sense that it takes a bit more mind-muscle connection to ensure you’re doing it correctly. BUT, it does an incredible job of isolating the upper chest so it’s worth experimenting with.

So there you have it, 3 exercises that ARE A MUST in your chest training routine to grow the upper portion. Take your time with these, make sure you’re getting quality repetitions.

It’s normal to feel some degree of activation from your front delt, especially when you’re chest is starting to fatigue out. Just do your best to go slow, concentrate especially on the negative portion of the reps & getting a great stretch at the bottom.

Cheers to an “Arnold” chest!


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