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Upper Pectoral Exercises

author image Michelle Dawn
Michelle Dawn has written professionally since 2005, covering a variety of topics over that time, the majority of that work focused on health and well-being. A Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Instructor, she enjoys teaching others how to live their healthiest, happiest life.
Upper Pectoral Exercises
A man is training his upper chest on the incline bench. Photo Credit Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

The chest is made up of two pairs of pectoral muscles. The larger pectoralis major muscles are fan-shaped and span across the entire chest area, including the upper area, one on each side of the chest. The smaller pectoralis minor muscles sit lower, deep within the larger muscles. In fitness parlance, "upper chest" usually refers to the upper portion of the pectoralis major. Exercising the pectoralis major and supplementing those exercises with one or more exercises which target upper pectoralis major results in balanced chest development.

Dip to Build Your Chest

The chest dip is one of the most effective chest exercises to include in your workout. Start by mounting yourself onto a wide dip bar, arms extended straight down, hands grasping onto the bar and aligned under your shoulders. Cross one foot over the other behind you, knees bent so your legs form a right angle. Engage your core and lower yourself down by bending your elbows, just until you feel a light stretch in your chest muscles. Return to your starting position, and repeat.

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Press to Power Your Chest

The cable chest press targets the pectoralis major muscles, helping you build your upper chest. In a seated position with your back flat against the back pad and feet flat on the floor, grasp the stirrups at your sides. In a simultaneous motion, push the stirrups forward, extending your arms straight so your arms are parallel to one another. Flex your elbows to return to your starting position. Repeat.

Pullover for Strong Pecs

Include the dumbbell pullover exercise as part of your workout to build your upper chest. Lie with your upper back flat on a weight bench, your torso and thighs forming a straight line with your legs bent on a 90-degree angle, feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms straight above you without locking your elbows, hands grasping onto the top end of a dumbbell with a heart-shaped grip. Slowly lower the dumbbell beyond your head, keeping your arms slightly bent, continuing until your upper arms are aligned with your torso. Return, then repeat.

Bench Press it Out

To target the upper chest, try the dumbbell incline bench press exercise. Lie face-up on an incline weight bench, with your legs bent and feet flat to the floor with a wide stance. Bend your arms at the sides so they form right angles, a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward. At the starting position, the dumbbells should be aligned with the upper chest. Push the weights up, extending your arms straight above you. Lower your arms back down to complete one rep. The incline targets the upper chest more than the flat bench.

Planning Your Workout

Even with all the right exercises, if you don't plan your workout properly, you won't get results. As a beginner, stick to two or three days a week, or if you're more experienced aim to include three to five strength-training sessions each week, training on nonconsecutive days when possible. This allows your muscles time for rest in between workouts, improving fat loss and muscle gain, and helping prevent injury. (see Reference 3)

Safety Tips

Consult your doctor before starting on any new exercise program. When you're working with weights, it's helpful to have a spotter there, especially when you work your way up to heavier weights, to help ensure you have proper form and avoid dropping the weights on yourself or otherwise injuring yourself. (see Reference 5) Increase the amount of weight used with each exercise slowly, only by an increment of 5 to 10 percent each time at the most. (see Reference 6)

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