Upper Chest Exercises Ranked (BEST TO WORST!)
If you are looking for chest exercises that help you to build a bigger upper chest, then you are going to want to watch this video. Here, I’m going to break down some of the most popular upper chest exercises that people perform to grow the clavicular head of the pecs. You may be surprised to learn that some of the ones most often done are the ones that really don’t provide the muscle growth and strength you’re after.
As always, it’s important to define what the characteristics of a great upper chest exercise are. First, the exercise must be capable of either driving strength gains or size gains, or ideally both. The strength is going to come from those chest exercises that allow for progressive overload. That said, some smaller isolation chest exercises are going to do a great job of creating hypertrophy and cannot be ignored in the overall ranking.
Above all else, these exercises for upper chest must be safe to perform. What good is an exercise if it isn’t capable of keeping your shoulders healthy while performing it. Lastly, the equipment required to perform the movement is considered. This is not the most important criteria but it does factor in to the overall ranking so that I can make sure as many people as possible can perform these chest exercises.
That said, let’s start breaking down the list.
– IG chest swipe workouts
– Guillotine Press
– Incline Flys – Incline Crucifix Flys
Whether it’s your favorite IG “trainer” or fancy chest movement they are talking about or simply a continued infatuation with the dumbbell fly despite heavy suggestions to seek an alternative, this group of upper chest exercises are either biomechanically improper or just dangerous to the health of your shoulders.
– Cavaliere Crossover
– Kneeling Landmine Presses
– Decline Pushups
In the better chest exercise category we have three exercises for the upper chest that are good. They are not the best but they will provide anyone that does them with results. They just shouldn’t be the only exercises you perform for your upper pecs. The Cavaliere Crossover is limited by the range of motion but closely mimics the fiber direction of the upper clavicular fibers of the chest. The Kneeling Landmine Press gives those with shoulder pressing pains an option that doesn’t hurt. The Decline pushup is a great bodyweight chest exercise but is ultimately limited by it’s inability to produce top end strength.
– Upper Chest Pullover
– UCV Raise
– DB Incline Squeeze Press
The Upper chest pullover is a great back exercise for the upper chest. That’s right, for the upper chest. It’s understandable that someone lacking a knowledge in anatomy and physiology may overlook the capabilities of this exercise but that is why I’m happy to explain it again in this video. The UCV Raise takes the limitations of the Cavaliere Crossover and helps to add the additional range of motion to make it even better. The DB Incline Press with a squeeze adds some adduction stress to the movement for better chest muscle activation.
– Incline Cable Press
– Low to High Cable Crossover
– Underhand DB Bench Press
The incline cable press is probably the most slept on chest exercise. It resists not only the flexion of the arm but the adduction of the arms at the top making it one of the highest tension chest movements you can perform. The Low to High Cable Crossover is an amazing movement for targeting the specific fibers of the upper chest due to the orientation of the fibers in this head of the chest. The underhand bench press has been shown to hit the upper chest 30 percent more effectively than some versions of the incline bench press.
– Incline DB Press
– Incline Bench Press
That said, the awkwardness of the underhand position of the dumbbells still makes the traditional incline bench press performed from a 30-45 degree angle to be the best exercise for the upper chest. If your strength exceeds that which you have access to in dumbbells, then you should switch to the barbell incline bench press instead. The slightly lower adduction is enough to keep the dumbbells at the top if the strength still allows them to be a challenge.
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