The pectoralis major is your primary chest muscle. It stretches from your collarbone to the top of your abdominal wall and sideways across your shoulders. When you work your pecs, you can target three regions -- upper, middle and lower. The tendency in a chest workout is to overdo flat bench presses, overdeveloping the middle and lower pecs and neglecting the upper pecs. By performing exercises that build the top borders of the pectoralis, you can square off your chest. Do five to 10 minutes of light cardio as well as arms swings to warm up and loosen your chest muscles before engaging in resistance exercises for your upper pecs.
Targeting the Upper Pecs
To achieve a square chest with a vertical cliff, build the thickness of your upper pecs by performing presses and flyes on an inclined surface at 30 to 45 degrees. You can also vary your grip to focus the pressure on your upper pecs. For example, use a supinated, or underhand, grip when doing pressing exercises with a barbell. If you’re using dumbbells on a press, use a neutral grip with your palms facing each other. Another exercise that targets the upper pecs is a cable crossover done with the cables attached to the low pulleys. The line of pull goes from low to high as you draw the cables up and to the front of your chest.
Incline Presses and Flyes
To perform a dumbbell press that hits your upper pecs, lie on an incline bench at 45 degrees. Hold two dumbbells with arms extended in front of your chest and hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, keeping your back pressed against the bench. Inhale and lower the weights toward the middle of your chest, bending your elbows. Point your elbows down, allowing them to flare out on the descent. Gently touch the weights to your chest, exhale and press the weights back up. Hold the peak position for a second and then repeat. Assume the same position when you perform flyes, but lower the weights in a wide semicircular motion until your upper arms and hands are aligned with your ears. For each exercise, perform 10 to 12 reps.
Shape Versus Size
While you can sculpt your chest into a square shape by developing your upper and outer pecs, you can hone the shape further by working on your inner pecs. Well-built inner pecs can help to separate your right and left pecs so your chest isn’t a rounded and thick mass of muscle. Crossover exercises and flyes will blast your inner pecs, particularly if you hold the peak position. At the point when your hands come together, squeeze your chest muscles to achieve a more intense contraction.
When doing exercises with dumbbells, use a balanced grip by holding them in the middle of the handle. In addition, make sure the weights mirror each other in terms of weight and position. For example, if you begin an incline dumbbell press and the weights are uneven, the weights will track different paths of motion or trajectories, leading to imbalances in the development of your chest. To achieve a square shape, the development of your right and left pecs requires symmetry.
- T Nation: Building a Bodybuilder Chest
- Men's Health Maximum Muscle Plan: The High-Efficiency Workout Program to Increase Your Strength and Muscle Size in Just 12 Weeks; Thomas Incledon, Matthew Hoffman
- The Men’s Health Gym Bible; Michael Mejia, Myatt Murphy
- The Men's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts; Selene Yeager, Editors of Men’s Health
- Stronger Arms & Upper Body; Jim Stoppani, Joe Wuebben