How to Build Upper Chest – What You Need To Know

Build Upper Chest
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You workout your upper body. You blast your chest, arms and back to oblivious and feel pretty good about it. You tried to build upper chest… 

But for some reason, your upper chest just isn’t developing the rest of your upper body.

It is as if you’re completely missing a part of your upper body, and yet you know you’re covering everything.

Aren’t you?

Truth be told, the upper chest is actually one of the most missed areas of the entire body and, despite all the upper body lifts you’re doing, you may actually be skipping right over it.

So are you interested in strengthening this small but important part of the body?

If so, we’ve got all the information and tips you’ll need to build an upper chest right here and give you a killer chest workout!

For Starters “How to Build Muscle”

Tired of what looks back at you in the mirror when your shirt is off?  

Maybe you share a similar dream of Lester Burnham from American Beauty and “…want to look good naked.” Whatever your reasoning, you need a diet that helps strip away fat and build muscle. Every diet needs to be a bit fine tuned to the individual. That is because your metabolism, body weight, mass, and muscle mass is different from the person next to you.

However, there is still a general recommendation for how to build muscle on your quest for a stronger upper chest. 

Don’t Forget Nutrition…

For starters, you likely need to increase the amount of protein you’re consuming. If you’re just starting off in the world of weightlifting, or at least coming back for an extended break, you should aim for around 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh. This means if you check in at 180 pounds, you’ll want to consume around 130 grams of protein on a daily basis. The thing about this though is you don’t want to consume it all at once.

Your body simply is not able to process that much protein at the same time, which means most of it will be pushed out and not absorbed. Instead, shoot for about 30 grams of protein per main meal a day. That will help you reach 90 grams of protein.

Fill in the rest with small snacks throughout the day. The snacks can be anything from a few slices of turkey and almonds to a protein drink. Just make sure to aim for the desired level of protein and you’ll be good to go.

When Should I Eat?

When you eat is almost as important as what you eat when it comes to building a stronger upper chest (and for muscles throughout the rest of your body). For maximum results, according to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2013), you want to consume one of your main meals two or three hours before training and another heavy protein meal or protein snack about one to two hours after your workout.

Realistically this puts working out after breakfast but before lunch an ideal time, although a post-dinner workout and a protein shake for a snack in the evening can work as well. 

What About Carbs?

Remember when you had a soccer game later in the evening or a basketball tournament coming up and your mom would make sure to “carbo-load” you in the morning to give you extra energy?

Well, research shows that may not be the best way to go about training now. Realistically it depends on what kind of work you do during the day. On one hand, if you are partaking in an all day athletic activity, carbs in the morning will give you energy.

However, this realistically is only the case when you took part in a heavy workout the day before.

Chances are, you already have a large energy reserve in your body, so adding more energy to your body won’t do much. It’s like driving your car to work. If you already have enough fuel to get you to work, putting more gas in the tank isn’t going to help you. It’ll actually just slow you down and drag down your fuel efficiency.

Eating too many carbs will slow you down as well.

So unless you are taking part in regular high-end workout routines for much of the day, avoid heavy carb-based foods (Men’s Health, 2017).

Upper Chest Muscles
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Upper Chest Muscles

At first glance, the chest seems like it is a single muscle group.

The pectoral muscles vary in shape from the surrounding muscles, so it would only make sense for this to be the case.

However, the chest is actually made up of three different muscle groups some good for a lower chest workout other an upper. The upper chest in itself is two muscle groups. The main portion of the upper chest is called the sternocostal, also known as the head of pectoralis major muscle.

This runs from your clavicle bone down to about when the chest begins to curve towards the abdominal muscles. Then, directly above the sternocostal is the clavicular muscle, also known as the head of pectoralis major muscle. This muscle is a small sliver, running right along the top of the chest.

If you feel your chest you can feel a slight raise in the chest muscle where the pectoral muscles come in contact with the collarbone. This is the clavicular muscle.

These two muscle groups make up the upper chest. 

The third muscle in the chest makes up the lower portion of the pectoral muscle group. This is the abdominal head of pectoralis major muscle. It is what connects the pectoral muscles with the abdominal muscles and your oblique region as well.

However, upper chest workouts will focus on the other two muscles (although the abdominal head of pectoralis major muscle will receive strength training during the exercises (Inner Body, 2017).

Why Strengthen the Upper Chest

If you already do weight work and have been hitting the gym on a regular basis for years, why should you add in additional lifts to focus on your upper chest?

Well, the fact of the matter is there is a good chance you have a major deficiency in your upper chest and even your shoulders muscles. As the upper and lower portions of the chest work together so frequently, you want to have a more even level of strength in both regions. Otherwise, it can increase your chance of injury when trying to lift heavier weights.

Additionally, much of the initial curve in the chest comes from the upper chest.

If you are not happy with the size of your chest, it likely is because the upper chest does not protrude outward from your clavicle and collarbone.

Strengthening your upper chest will help with this.

Here’s How to Build Your Upper Chest

When you perform the bench press, do you normally remain flat on the bench?

If so, this is your main problem. The bench press workout is a great way to work your shoulders, arms and yes, the chest, but based on how the dumbbells or barbell is lifted, most of the tension goes towards the lower region of your chest.

That is why you need to switch it up and add some variation to your bench press.

Move away from the bench and barbell rack and take a seat on an adjustable bench. With an adjustable bench, you’ll be better off using either dumbbells for each hand or a Smith machine, if you’d like some added support.

On the adjustable bench, create an incline for some incline dumbbell press. An Incline lift is going to raise where the tension is applied while pressing the weights. An incline set at around 40 to 45 degrees or so will directly target the upper body.

The thing about the incline bench press is if you are not using a bench rack or Smith machine, you’re placing the additional strain on your elbows.

Due to this, you either want to have a spotter during the lift or you should reduce the amount of weight you lift until you’re comfortable with needing to lower the weights slowly back to the floor.

With the incline lift, shoot for 10-12 reps of one weight. The second time through, reduce the incline by about five degrees. This will slightly alter where the tension is placed on your upper chest.

This way, both muscle groups in the upper chest will receive attention.

Try to hit 10-12 reps with the second go around as well. Once you hit 10-12 of each without failure, the next time you hit the gym make sure to increase the weight.

Continuing with the incline and the dumbbells, focus on incline flyes. With the bench set at an incline, hold a weight in each hand above your chest. Pull the weights out and down until the weights are about in line with your chest. You will really be able to feel this in your upper chest (especially when first performing this lift), then pull the weights back up to the original starting position, as if you were closing two doors.

You will really be able to feel this in your upper chest (especially when first performing this lift), then pull the weights back up to the original starting position, as if you were closing two doors.

Don’t rush either the down or up movement though.

Go slowly.

This puts more tension on the muscle, allowing you to strengthen it faster. Every lift mentioned here you want to perform 10 reps per set.

Return the bench back to its flat state. You’re going to revisit your bench press, but this time you’ll want to use a reverse grip.

With a traditional grip, your palms are facing upward with your fingers on top. With this lift, the base of your hand is now on top. Start with a much lighter weight until you are used to this lift as it will feel weird.

This lift works the upper chest.

You can even lay on your couch and mime this lift up with your opposite hand on your imaginary lifting arm’s pectoral muscle. You will feel the strain placed on this muscle group.

Again, perform 10-12 reps on the first set and then try to do it again on the second set (Muscle and Fitness, 2017).

Build Larger Muscles Fast

Is your goal to build larger muscles fast?

If so, you’ll want to switch up the number of reps you do. Instead, don’t follow through with a set number of reps to hit. Do every lift until you can’t possibly do another one.

Then, the second time through repeat the process.

Do this for every single lift you do.

However, if you hit 10-12 reps for any weight the second time through you’re not lifting enough weight and need to increase it the next time through.

Consider A Second Chest Day

If you are someone who hits the gym five days a week but you don’t have time to spend large amounts of time dedicated to each muscle group, focus on upper body training three days a week.

However, if you’re someone who hits the gym hard and blasts a single muscle group once every five days or so, consider adding a second chest day.

This way, on one day (let’s say Monday), you can target the lower chest. Then on the second day (let’s say Friday) you can focus on the upper chest area of your body.

A strong upper chest helps improve the strength of nearly every other upper body muscle group, ranging from your back to your shoulders and arms. It isn’t difficult to target your upper chest, you just need to make sure you perform the mentioned lifts correctly. If you want to increase your chest size, follow the dietary recommendations, but if your sole purpose is to increase strength, then just make sure to eat a balanced, nutritious diet.

If you want to increase your chest size, follow the dietary recommendations, but if your sole purpose is to increase strength, then just make sure to eat a balanced, nutritious diet.


By increasing the strength and definition of your chest, you’ll begin seeing a difference in not only your physique but your overall upper body strength. So hit the gym, and remember to have fun with it. Because even though you’re putting in work, you’re doing it for a better you.

-Terry Asher

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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  1. Nice post!

    I really like your commentary on working out the upper chest. It is always good to add some variation and focus on the upper pecs. Doing the same flat bench routine can definitely lead to stagnant growth so I think that splitting your workouts half and half at least with flat bench and inclined bench can definitely make a big difference. After all, having a big upper chest is what people always notice first 😉

    One resource that helped me a ton was actually a program called critical bench. It is chalk full of tips and tricks that you wouldn’t really think of that actually make a huge difference in your bench when implemented correctly. I actually wrote a little review of the program anyone can check out-

  2. This one is really amazing,

    I have a question! Can I do this exercise while doing yoga? I mean what if we combine muscle building followed by some intense yoga workout? Does it affect my muscles?


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