Upper Chest: The key to the ASSCHEST
How much do you bench?
It’s never about how much you bench, unless you are competing in powerlifting. When it comes to bodybuilding disregard your left brain, there is no time for numbers. Gain some intimacy with your right brain because you are going to need your artistic flair to get your proportions right. Too many people make some critical mistakes when it comes to chest training, mistakes that the Gods of the gym ( Arnold, Zane, Reeves) would have deemed heinous back in the Golden Era. Chest training is simple, however many people are still getting it wrong. If you can follow these basic fundamentals you will be on your way to building an impressive chest that will draw some attention.
Scrap the flat bench press
If you are trying to build a chest that stands out why would you do the same thing everyone else is doing? The flat bench press is an excellent exercise that has been over used by most lifters. The majority of lifters start out their Mondays with this exercise every week, every year never mixing it up. Most lifters develop the lower chest while neglecting the upper chest. The upper chest is the key to developing a proportional chest. It is the game changer as it is the part of the chest people actually see when you wear V necks and singlets.
Complete the square: Build that upper chest
Incline Barbell Bench Press
The first exercise that people generally gravitate towards when trying to build their upper chest is the incline bench press. Many of the standard incline bench presses found in most gyms are far too vertical to target the upper chest optimally, they instead end up recruiting the front deltoids. The ideal angle for effective upper chest targeting is 30° and lower, anything higher tends to remove stress from the chest. If your gym doesn’t have a suitable incline bench press you can set up a bench on the smith machine and get busy.
Reverse grip bench press
Reverse your grip when you bench press in order to emphasis the upper chest. Make sure you have a spotter when you do this exercise, and do not go too heavy unless you want to decapitate yourself. Chest training is largely to do with feeling the muscle contraction, and not so much moving weight. Start of light with this exercise until you are comfortable with the form, then precede to move more weight. If you do not have a spotter do this exercise on the smith machine.
Slight Incline Cable flyes
Many people tend to raise their arms too high when doing cable flyes, as with the standard incline this smashes the front deltoids. The slight incline allows for a peak contraction in the upper chest. The advantage of the cable flyes over dumbell flies is the difference in the strength curve required to do the movement. The dumbells have minimal resistance when your arms are perpendicular to to the bench, and maximum at the bottom of the movement. The cables allow for maximum resistance when the chest is fully contracted.
Below is a very helpful video by Omarisuf showing the correct form.
Wide Push Ups
You can never go wrong with the classics, and it does not get any better than the wide push up. I am sure you were doing push ups before you joined the gym, however you most likely discarded them once you started bench pressing . Push ups are excellent for finishing your chest workouts. How many push ups should you do? As many as it takes for you to fall on your face. If push ups are still easy once you finish your workout, you have not been pushing it hard enough. Grab you gym partner and see who gives up first, if you want an ASS chest you need to earn that shit.
A word to the wise
Many of these exercises that have been shown to you require pressing a bar or dumbells. In order to most effectively engage your chest muscles you need to retract your scapula, this can also protect you from shoulder injuries. The easiest way to do this is to shrug your traps up, and pull them back until your shoulder blades are pinching. When you scapula is retracted your chest should stick out more than your shoulders. Your shoulders should only be minimally assisting in the movement if you retract your scapula correctly You should also play around with your hand placement on the bar as well as range of motion in these exercises. Remember it is not about the weight! Yes you should be getting stronger and not just moving bitch weight, but don’t undermine your form for progression. Take this advice and apply it, I hope you develop that ASS chest that everyone is chasing.