This Is Why Your Upper Chest Won't Grow | High Volume Powerbuilding Chest Workout


Having trouble building a bigger chest? More specifically your upper chest? I struggled with the same problem for some time but through trial and error, I have found an effective routine with pectoral exercises that target the upper chest with accuracy.

Now before we begin, let's quickly address some technical things first before we dive into the workout details. Odds are that you were just like me, stumbling through the vast expanses of the World Wide Web, entangled in blogs and articles looking for upper chest workouts only to find that just about every one of them has the same f**king exercises! Here and there you may find a few unique concepts and exercises to help develop your pecs, workouts with barbells, chest workouts with dumbbells, or whatever else is out there but nothing seems to work no matter what you try. Ever wonder why that is? I did for the longest time, through high school, and through parts of college. Then I realized that there is no special blueprint to a huge chest and the exercises are all similar because they DO work. There were just subtle changes that I needed to make before I could reap the benefits of the upper chest exercises and workouts that I had come across. Same goes for you!

So, what’s the big secret? How do you get a big ass chest? Well I am going to list a few of the things that were hindering my potential so that you can avoid all the trial and error that I had to go through

  1. Nutrition

This was, and sometimes still is, the biggest factor in maximizing growth in my upper chest. Searching for a cut and dry nutrition guidelines for any fitness goal can be a big headache and extremely frustrating. How many fats? Carbs, which ones are good? Which carbs are bad and what the hell is a glycemic index again? That’s why I keep it simple nowadays and only track one macronutrient (macro), protein. Protein is comprised of amino acids that are the building blocks of most of the cells in the human body; therefore, at the end of the day you could find the holy grail of upper chest exercises and still lack results if you aren’t getting an adequate amount of protein to repair damaged muscle cells after your workouts.

  1. Tempo & Rest

Ever finished up a set for an exercise that you thought would be a challenge and said to yourself, “That was easy.”? If so, the next thing that you should look at is your rep tempo – the speed of each rep. Odds are that you’ve made the correct weight selection and don’t need to add more weight, putting more stress on your joints and possibly screwing with your form; your problem (and mine at one point) is that you’re going too damn fast. Now we could go on forever about the perfect rep speed, but I like to keep things simple and plan on keeping it that way. I’m going to tell you the same thing that I tell my person clients or anyone who takes one of my classes at Orangetheory. If you finish a set the same way you started, then you need to slow down! In other words, the last 2-3 reps should be extremely difficult to get and should come out a lot slower than the first reps in the set. You don't need to know what a certain percentage of your one rep max is – I don't even know what my max is – you don't always need to load up the bar with every 45lbs plate you can find in the gym and go to failure either, simply slow your reps down until your body has time to adapt to the resistance; this is called time under tension and you must master this for any exercise, not just pectoral exercises. Now if you do this and still don't feel a challenge, increase the weight and try again, but stop machine-gunning your reps! The next time you dive into another workout, whatever upper chest exercises you choose, make sure that you take at least a 3 count on the negative phase (on the way down); this will add to the amount of time that your muscles must work. As far as rest goes, keep it under 90 seconds between each set for any bodybuilding workout. This will keep your muscle cells engorged with blood and result in increased hypertrophy.    

  1. The Correct Incline

I've got another question for you. Ever done some incline work to target your upper chest only to have it feel more like a shoulder workout? Yeah, I've been there before too, as a matter of fact, I HATED incline bench press because it would always leave my shoulders (the joints) in pain afterward. Even more frustrating was that we did that quite frequently in our lifts when I played football in high school and college so there was little way for me to modify or avoid this lift. So, what's causing it to be so painful? The incline is too high. Now, there is no specific degree of incline that will work for everyone since there will be slight differences between my shoulder joints, yours, and the next person. I found out that the incline needed to be significantly lower than anything that I did in high school or college to protect my joints, take emphasis away from my shoulders, and to attack my upper pecs. Next time you start your chest workout, take some time to find where the incline needs to be for you, it won't be that difficult, and shouldn't take long for you to notice a difference.

  1. Try Chest Exercises With Dumbbells

Chest exercises with dumbbells is a great way to attack the chest in general for the sole reason that you get more range of motion than with a straight barbell. For the pectoral muscles to contract, your humerus – the portion of your arm from your shoulder to elbow – needs to move towards the midline (middle of your body). Go ahead and try it! Right now, wherever you are I want to squeeze your chest as hard as you can until you can cross your elbows pass on another. How did that feel, pretty intense? I bet! Doing your chest exercises with dumbbells will grant your humerus a few more degrees of adduction at the shoulder than a straight barbell; thus, allowing you to see more development in your pecs!

  1. Patience

It is very challenging and frustrating to see how successful others have been at developing an awesome chest piece, but you must understand that it didn’t happen for them overnight, and it’s going to take time for you to get there as well. Also, as with the case of money and there seeming to not ever be enough to fill your pockets, there will never be enough muscle to put on your chest, so stay humble and keep working. Be satisfied with whatever you can accomplish!

            So as promised, check out the chest workout below, and use those five things that held me back to smash some growth into your upper pecs!

 

High Volume Chest Workout:

Warm up: 10-15 minute warm up on cardio equipment of your choice

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press:

  • 2 sets of 15 reps with 1 minute of rest between sets
  • 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute of rest between sets
    • My Secret Sauce: Do not simply count to 8 or 12 and move on, the last few reps should be HARD. Try to get past 12 on the first set, if you do, count that as a warmup set, grab something heavier and try again until you can barely get 12. Also, REMEMBER TO KEEP YOUR REP TEMPO UNDER CONTROL!

Standing Plate Press:

  • 2-3 sets of 15 reps with one minute of rest between sets
  • Set up:
  1. Grab two plates, start with 10’s and adjust as needed
  2. Stand up straight with the plate at chest level using your palms to hold them together. Don't let your fingers help!
  3. Press the plates forward and feel the burn!
  • More Secret Sauce: It’s going to be tempting to dig your fingers into the plates for help! Use only your palms as this will force your pecs to hold the plates together and further away they go from your body, the tougher is gets.
  • Flat Dumbbell Chest Press:

    • 2 sets of 15 reps with 1 minute of rest between sets
    • 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps with 1 minute of rest between sets
      • My Secret Sauce: Do not simply count to 8 or 12 and move on, the last few reps should be HARD. Try to get past 12 on the first set, if you do, count that as a warmup set, grab something heavier and try again until you can barely get 12. Also, REMEMBER TO KEEP YOUR REP TEMPO UNDER CONTROL!

     

    Incline Cable Crossover:

    • 2-3 sets of 15 reps with one minute of rest between sets
    • Set up:
    1. Stand between cables with equal distance on both sides
    2. Adjust cable height to target upper pecs by lowering them. As with incline bench press, you will need to find the proper cable height for you.
    3. Squeeze the hell out of your chest, swooping your arms slightly upwards, and bring those elbows together like we did earlier!
  • Last Drop of Sauce: Don’t turn this into a chest press! plate press. Focus on using your pecs to move the weight and avoid using your triceps to press forward.
  • I love this workout, it never fails to give me a skin-splitting pump, and has put some awesome size on my chest. Take this to the gym with you on your next chest day and light it up!


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