15 Upper Chest Workouts for Shredded Pecs

By: Brian Wargula

What Muscles Are Targeted in Upper Chest Workouts?

The right chest workout is exactly what you may be missing to give you the definition you want. They are the key to that perfect “V” shape many are after and are even more important to building your core, stretching your back and keeping a good posture.

The primary muscle groups within the chest area is the   and pectoralis minor, aka the “pecs”. The pectoralis major is two chest muscles that fan out from your sternum and attach at the arm and upper shoulder. These are the areas you will feel the burn after a killer chest workout. The pectoralis minor is composed of smaller bands of muscle, that despite their location in the front, control structures associated with your backside. Attaching to the ribs and the shoulders, the pec minor helps pull down and spread apart the shoulder blades. They work in tandem, isolating the pectoralis minor is much harder to do. 

Some chest movements do not effectively target the pectoral muscles. Which is why you might not be seeing the definition despite your best efforts! Our chest area also tends to be a place where we store subcutaneous fat, which makes pec definition harder to see. It might take more than just building muscle to reveal those pecs, you may need to focus on burning excess fat, too. You can always speak with a personal trainer to make sure you’re doing chest workouts correctly in order to hit the muscle correctly.

How to Build Chest Muscle Mass

The best strategy is to build and define your chest muscles, is to start with isolating your pecs first. Pull in a variety of bench exercises, weight machines (if available) and free weights so that you are targeting your chest at different angles. Locking in on good upper chest isolation workouts will help you see noticeable results, faster. Focus on finding very specific exercises that target your pectoralis minor as well with exercises where your body leans forward and your shoulder blades draw downward.

15 Killer Chest Workout Moves to Build Chest Muscles

Ready for that perfect workout that will give you the ultimate upper chest definition? We asked our fitness experts at Transformation Protein to give us the best moves that help build and define chest muscles. Here is what you need for upper chest.

  1. Incline Bench Press
    • Using a barbell or individual dumbbells, use a bench to isolate your pecs as you bring the weights up and down.
    • One of the primary benefits of using individual dumbbells is that it’ll even out any imbalances between your dominant & non-dominant sides
    • Check out more tips, tricks and variations 
  1. High Cable Flys
    • High cable flys are similar to standard cable flys, except that you press out and upward at the end of your fly movement.
    • For a good upper chest workout, make sure you’re moving both hands towards the center of your body.
    • The upwards movement helps better isolate and target the pec muscles.
  1. Reverse Grip Bench Press
    • The reverse grip bench press is virtually the same as a bench press, except you’re grip in reversed.
    • A tip to build upper chest; have your knuckles on the same side of the bar as your feet!
    • Keep in mind that you might need to reduce your weights from your “normal” max weight, to help avoid injury and to focus on muscle isolation.
  1. Semi-Inclined Bench Press
    • The semi-inclined bench press is the same as the incline bench press, except the degree of your bench varies to help force your chest muscles to be able to accommodate the different weight distribution 
  1. Dumbbell Squeeze Press
    • A dumbbell squeeze press is just a chest press with an extra squeeze to bring the dumbbells together at the top of the press movement.
    • This simple modification engages your pecs throughout the movement for upper chest isolation workout.
  1. Close Grip Barbell Bench Press
    • This is identical to a bench press, but your hands are placed much closer together on the bar.
    • As a killer chest workout it helps you shift the strain from your shoulders to your triceps and chest
  1. Decline Pushup
    • A decline pushup is a little more difficult than a traditional push up because of how your body is positioned for an upper chest using your bodyweight.
    • Placing your feet on an elevated surface shifts more of your body weight to your upper body, which works your chest more than a traditional pushup.
  1. Staggered Pushup
    • A staggered pushup is nearly identical to a traditional pushup, except that you’ll stagger the positioning of your left and right hands under your body.
    • Make sure to alternate your hand positioning so your work each side of your chest evenly
  1. Chest Dips
    • You’ll need two parallel surfaces to do this move (typically bars).
    • To do each rep, place your hands directly across from each other, then pick up your feet and dip your body down using your arms till your elbows reach 90 degrees. Afterwards, return to the full extension position.
  1. Bent Cable Crossover
    • You will either need gym equipment or at-home resistance bands to complete this move.
    • Start by placing your feet about hip-width apart and leaning forward slightly (about 10 to 20 degrees), then use the pulley handles or resistance bands to complete the “chest fly” movement and return back to the center of your body
  1. Incline Dumbbell Flys
    • You’ll need an incline bench, set somewhere between 10 and 45 degrees.
    • Grab two dumbbells and bend your elbows at 90 degrees above your chest, then open your arms in the fly movement and return to above the chest.
  1. Landmine Press
    • You won’t necessarily need gym equipment for this upper chest exercise. You can use any long object that is weighted that you can press with one arm.
    • Pick up one end of the weighted bar (or at-home object) and leave the other end on the ground, then press it towards the ceiling.
  1. Prone Fly
    • Start in pushup/plank position, then extend one arm at a time until it’s straight in front of your body.
    • This upper pec workout forces your chest muscles on the opposite side of your body to completely support all of your bodyweight.
  1. One-Armed Pushups
    • This move is excellent for targeting and isolating each side of your chest. It’s identical to a pushup, except that you complete the move using only one arm.
    • Complete equal reps on each side for the best upper chest bodyweight workout. Or use weaker side of chest to exhaustion and match that with other side.
  1. Wide-Grip Dips
    • This move is essentially the same as chest dips, except that it’s more intense because your hands are spread further apart.
    • For lower pec exercises, this makes your body rely on your chest muscles more as opposed to just using your triceps to help

Support Your Intense Chest Workouts with High-Quality Nutrition

If you really want to hit your goals for your pecs and build muscle the right way, you have to focus on what you’re eating as well. Making sure to use the right protein supplements can help you recover faster and is key to building muscle. Transformation Protein powder is packed with all nine amino acids your body needs. It is one of the few that is dairy-free and contains only natural sweeteners. Formulated and designed by experts, it makes it easier than ever to hit your goals.