How NOT to Build Your Upper Chest (DUMB!)

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If you want to build your upper chest then you want to make sure you learn how to avoid over activating your front delts. The shoulders and the chest share some of the same functions given their anatomical proximity. That said, it is possible to get the chest to do more of the work if the goal is to build a bigger upper chest by making sure to watch the position of the arms when you perform your chest workouts.

The key to working your upper chest is to use exercises that allow you to follow the fibers. What this means is that when you want to contract a muscle with as much force as possible, you want to move in line with the direction of the muscle fibers. In the case of the upper chest, the muscle fibers run on an angle from the clavicle to the upper arm. This oblique orientation dictates that the best way to train this area is with movements that take your arm from low and outside to up and across your body.

Now, some less knowledgeable fitness instructors might want you to believe that the better way to train your upper chest is to first take your arms from low and outside to a position right in front of your body. At the point that they reach each other you would then raise your arms straight up in front of you to further engage and contract the upper chest.

This is simply bad information and actually against the very principles of anatomy already covered. When you break the exercise down into the component parts as I just described you are actually getting a slight contraction on the chest fibers of the lower portion and mid portion of the chest and then simply maintaining an isometric for the remainder of the exercise. Lifting the arms straight up, while working a small amount of upper chest, is certainly not the best way to train it.

Here you are going to be working a heavy dose of front delts rather than the upper chest. This is because when you roll your arms in as you do in the beginning of the proposed substitute upper chest exercise then you are engaging the front delts to a much greater degree due mainly to the advantage that the fibers of the delts have been put in by being in that position.

Instead of doing this you would want to go back to performing the upper chest exercise the way I have previously described. You want to use a cable ideally (rather than a dumbbell due to the fact that the cable will be able to provide continuous resistance that the dumbbells will not) and go from a low and away position with your hands to a high and across position.

Slowly lower the weight down and repeat for the desired number of reps. Make sure that in order to solidify the effectiveness of the exercise by really squeezing the pecs at the top of the move and feeling your upper chest contract into the clavicle. If you do not feel the intense contraction on the chest muscle then you will want to evaluate whether you are doing the movement correctly.

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