Introduction

This blog post outlines the exercises most important to the development of your ‘upper chest’ and the common downfalls experienced when trying to develop size.

chest muscle structure

Upper Chest Exercises

Barbell Incline

Possibly the most important exercise for developing your ‘upper chest’ is the incline barbell bench press. You will benefit from the bench being set as shallow as a 10 degree incline right up until the bench is about vertical. I generally look to set the bench at approximately 30-40 degrees, however if incline is your core chest exercise you may want to use a shallower angle to avoid being too reliant on your front deltoids. Chose your grip wisely on incline barbell and do not be afraid of stopping around an inch before touching your chest if its uncomfortable. Also be aware that going too wide on your grip can put an extraordinary amount of stress on your deltoids.

Whilst usually I would suggest against flaring your elbows out so they are horizontally aligned, I do enjoyed the added stress to the top of my chest. The difference I felt in stimulation from incline dumbbell to incline barbell was phenomenal and if you rarely perform barbell incline then I suggest focusing on it. 

incline barbell bench

incline barbell bench pressing the right way (no flare)

Reverse grip barbell bench press

This is a relatively uncommon exercise across any weight lifting disciple and if you’re able you execute the exercise properly, it will probably become your new favorite chest exercise. Experiment with around 30-50% of your 1 rep max, using a variety of grip widths and get a feel for how you tuck your elbows in your or flare them out to stimulate your chest. I would also advise lowering the bar to align with your nipples, although find what works for you. If you are uncomfortable with using a barbell or you just “aren’t feeling it”, I strongly suggest repeating the same steps using a smith machine.

reserve grip bench press

reserve grip bench press

Cable flyes/cross overs

Having training a power lifting gym and home gym for a number of years, my access to a decent set of weighted cable machines was rather rare. I’ve found cables are fantastic for stressing different parts of the chest and have forced the development of the upper region of my chest. Be careful on this exercise stretching out too far or using straightened arms can put a phenomenal amount of stress on your joints. Flyes are a large cause of shoulder injuries.

incline cable flyes

incline cable flyes

Incline Dumbbell press

Almost anyone you watch incline dumbbell press will be using a different form, and whilst some of this is down to their bio-mechanical structure, many people just end up doing what seems natural. There is a vast variety of different forms that can be used when doing db press, but I suggest holding the dumbbells at an angle so they are not horizontally inline with each other throughout the press. Keeping them horizontal puts far too much pressure on the deltoids and reduces chest activation.

incline dumbbell bench press

incline dumbbell bench pressing the wrong way. (Putting stress on your shoulders)

Making gains

If like me, your ‘upper chest’ is non-existent, I suggest ditching flat barbell bench press unless you are a powerlifter. In fact  even if you have the best ‘upper chest’ in the world, I suggest ditching flat barbel unless you are a powerlifter or lust egotistical number. I also suggest training chest twice a week with a certain focus on movements to stimulate your ‘upper chest’. Some people claim you can’t train your upper chest but the reality is some exercises stimulate muscle fibers located at the top of your chest much more than those located further down. If you’ve ever brought up a lagging muscle group before you will often notice a rapid growth.

Summary
– Look to train chest twice a week.
– Ditch flat barbell bench press.
– Focus on reverse grip and incline barbell bench.
– Watch your chest grow!

When looking to drop body-fat, it can be hard deciding what foods to eat. Balancing nutrients, calorific density, cost and food satisfaction can be difficult, but just remember you can always follow IFFYM and eat what you like within reason. From my personal experience of cutting, this is my favorite selection of foods:

Broccoli

Florets Of Broccoli

Florets Of Broccoli

Low in calories, tastes good (although I’m sure that’s an opinion), an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, a great source of fibre and very filling. Broccoli is always the first thing that comes to mind when I think about cutting.

 

 

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is an absolute life saver as it tastes fantastic, is packed with vitamins & minerals and most importantly, carbohydrates. Sweet potato is easy to prepare and store away in the fridge and I often consume sweet potato as part of my pre or post workout meal.

 

 

 

Oily Fish

smoked mackerel

smoked mackerel

Another fantastic tasting food with high biological value (BV) protein and fantastic source of omega fats. I often opt for smoked mackerel in the morning and Salmon for lunch. I love wild salmon although it can get expensive.

Tinned Tomatoes

Low in calories, taste great and can bulk up any meal! A fantastic food to add to the mix.

Brown Rice Pasta

Contrary to popular belief, I personally think you should always eat a fair share of carbohydrate. Your body still needs, carbohydrates. When low on carbohydrates I have certainly experienced bouts of mood swings.

Spinach

Spinach is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Many people are deficient in Zinc, which is how zinc can optimize testosterone levels in the body.

Eggs

fat protein, don’t have to be dull either. Mixing up boiling, poaching, scrambling and frying. Again, a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals. Also extremely easy to repair

Sugar Free Jelly – extremely low in calories

Certainly last, but not least, sugar free jelly from Hartleys is the perfect treat for anyone with a sweet tooth who desperate to head off-track on their cutting diet.The only downside is the Jelly can take a good few hours to set! I for one get rather impatient.

 

Bonus – Spices and Seasoning!

Spices and seasoning can make or break a cut in my opinion. If you’re planning on eating clean then you need to mix things up to keep your taste buds happy. You’ll soon lose the will to eat if its BLAND.

Training your posterior deltoids, also known as or rear delts, is extremely important for shoulder health and achieving a balanced physique, even if you aren’t training for aesthetics. They are often neglected by amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters alike as they are often overlooked and require some isolation. You’ll find many people who neglect to isolate their posterior deltoids for a number of years end up with shoulders hunched towards their strong pectoral muscles and if left to worsen over time this can lead to variety of issues and even effect the shoulder girdle.

The posterior deltoids play an critical part in transverse extension (the lateral movement away from the mid-line of the body in a horizontal plane) as the latissimus dorsi also know as the lats are extremely weak in a strict transverse extension.

The reat delts are critical for bodybuilders attempting to achieve the bolder shoulder look. And you’ll often see people who using drugs such as steroids to manipulate their endocrine systems end up with extremly juicy deltoids.

Barbell

high delt rows

Dumbbell

rear deltoid dumbbell flies

Cable

cable crossovers

face pulls

Machine

rear delt machine flies

Exercises should be alternated and you should never use poor or sloppy form. Its suggested to train your rear delts twice a week to bring them inline if they are lagging. A split where the rear delts are trained on a back specific day and later in the week on a shoulder specific day is often the best course of action. I’ve personally trained for strength for many years but due to earlier shoulder problems and a lack of knowledge I neglected them. The good news is, if like me, you manage to neglect them in the past, they will explode after a few months of strict training.