Posted 2 years ago

Tips to grow your upper chest

Would you like to add more muscle to the top portion of your chest? Are you spending hours doing incline work, but it only seems like the lower portion of your chest is growing?

Let’s be real, all men want to develop their chest muscles. There are however a few considerations we must take into account when training our chest to ensure we can bring it up evenly.

Sternum angle
Have a look at your buddy next time he is doing an incline chest press. Pay close attention to his lower back and his sternum angle. If you see a big arch, can you also see the completely flat sternum?

If this is the case, then the work that is being done to move the weight is mostly coming from the lower fibres of the chest and less so from the upper fibres. As such, the incline created with the bench in this case is pretty useless, as their sternum angle is mimicking a flat bench-pressing motion.

In fact, the fibres in that upper portion of the chest are directly related to how steep you can keep your sternum angle. Over time, I’ve seen that a small arch in the lower back is completely fine, but the lifter should always work hard to keep the angle when moving the weight to get the most out of the lift. To get a better understanding watch this tutorial

Range of motion
Just because you see big Jimmy slap the barbell on his chest on every rep doesn’t mean that’s the way to develop your chest. Have you ever considered the benefit or reasoning behind it?

If you have, you’ll know that it’s actually pointless (and even dangerous). If you haven’t, I’m here to tell you that your active range of motion at that point will no longer be chest-dominant, but more shoulder-dominant. That is, by bringing the bar/DBs that low, you might be getting less muscle fibre recruitment in the chest, and more so in the shoulders.

Want proof? Next time you’re doing any chest pressing movement, consider bringing the bar/dumbbell down to a point where you can initiate (turn on) the chest and the press. If you do that and pair it with controlling your sternum angle, you’ll feel a contraction in your upper chest you’ve never felt before – that’s a sign that it’s working!

Are you one of those people who is working their chest on a Monday and then waiting 7 days to train it again? This was something I used to do, and was then perplexed as to why I wasn’t seeing the growth I wanted or anticipated from the hard work in that session.

What I’ve found over the years is that actually, frequency matters. In fact, working your chest at least twice a week can drastically improve the rate and which you gain tissue in this area. Specific to upper-chest development, if you keep the majority of movements within a 30-40° incline, then you will bias that growth towards the upper region and achieve the even development you’re seeking.

In summary, if we want to grow the upper region of our chest, we need to look at: (1) the angle of our sternum when we are performing direct incline chest work; (2) our range of motion to allow us to initiate with the correct muscle; and last but not least, (3) how frequently we train it across the week.

If you’d like to know more about the fundamental aspects of chest training then be sure to sign up for the physique formula where I go into further detail.

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons