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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33 thoughts on “Upper Chest Exercises Ranked (BEST TO WORST!)”
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In your Chest (best to worst) you put the underhand DB bench press as BETTER and the DB upper chest pullovers as BETTER STILL. Where as on this one it’s the other way round and the pullover is BETTER STILL and underhand ALMOST BEST.
Which one is better for building upper chest? Need some clarification cheers x
Have you done any videos on Olympic lifts? Best to worst? Or the utility of them?
@JP_L hand me your phone grandpa
Title of the video says; “BEST to WORST”, should be flipped
I’m still recovering from having been hospitalised with the ‘rona’ a few months back and currently still have weak lungs. Have you guys got any advice for getting in shape when cardio is so difficult? I’m sure many people are in a similer situation to me and would really appreciate the help!
Exactly what I needed. Thanks Jeff!
I’ve loved your perfect workout series, especially the back and legs ones, can you do a video on the ‘perfect (lower) posterior chain’ workout, i know that quite specific but I feel like that is something I’ll need to up my calisthenics game
Your stream has been invaluable to my physical (and mental) well being. Was just reviewing the last best of the chest yesterday, so thrilled to see this one pop up.
All the best for your workouts, keep it up my bro <3
Every time you drop one of these kinds of videos I add at least one of the exercises to my routine. Definitely helps me out!
Yea i add one of the worst to my exercise
@Tommy Mack All the ones with internal rotation right?
Can you do (or does there exist) an athlean X video on how to fit weighted ab training into many of the traditional workout splits (Upper/lower, PPL, bro split etc). I know abs can be treated with a greater degree of frequency than most muscles , and for many bodyweight ab training daily would be a viable option, but what’s the science on weighted ab training?
Great list and totally agree on them all. The only change I would personally make is the Incline cable press and the low-high cross overs. I personally place them in the best along with the incline dumbbell press. Other than the faff around with the equipment, i think these are the best for activation and in can be loaded pretty great too. The fact that you have maximum resistance through the strength curve with cables just makes me love using the cables so much more
Great video, would be great to make this a series where you rank exercises for every muscle group from best to worst.
I personally like how Jeff handled previous criticism from other channels and explained in detail why he put these exercises in it’s corresponding tier.
@Kaizenguard it’s the same exercise, just barely different of a variation. Maybe newbs fall for this, but anyone who has real experience knows better. This channel targets newbs, that’s why he has such a large following. Most people know nothing and believe anything. Also, his little cavaliar raise/shrug also does the same thing as the vshred bs.
@Josh Benware He is GOOD for newbs and keeping them from getting injured. Jeff Cavaliere & Jeff Nippard are the only trainers on Youtube that I’ve never seen a glaring weakness in their instruction or understanding of healthy body mechanics.
Comparing Jeff Cavaliere to Vshred is like comparing Larry Bird to Kid Rock. One is a Legend and the other was conceived because someone’s rubber failed in a Waffle House parking lot
@Josh Benware did you even watch the videos? Vshreds exercise is still in the ‘worst’ category, the crossover is upper tier. In the old video he explains in detail why. It’s literally the same stance. How is this hypocrisy and how is that wrong in your opinion?
@Josh Benware If you don’t see the difference in those exercises maybe you should watch the video again, he really does explain exactly why it’s different, even takes out the muscle markers for one of them.
@AB ஃ Stone Jeff nippard is solid. Cavaliar is basically mens health magazine from the 90s reincarnated. A bunch of fluff n pump gimmicky junk. Jesse is proof. 5 years to get muscle he should have gotten in 1-2 years. His lifts are ok for his weight, but he should have much more muscle at this point.
Thanks for going over these exercises in detail, Jeff. I’m sure I’ll have no shortages of exercise options (as well as the knowledge of each option) with all the options you’ve shown.
Jeff Cavaliere seriously gives all this incredible information, helping so many people by upping their game or preventing injuries, and so much more, for absolutely free.
I recently got access to the gym and started using the Perfect workout series, and it’s absolutely incredible how Jeff knows just how to hit every function of every muscle and in a fashion that allows you to get as much out of it as possible, and causes actual strength and size gains
The perfect series workout is so good and helpful… can’t wait to see for the BACK from worst to best
The classification of the Cavaliere Crossover really made me want to like this video multiple times. Integrity has no price. I was sure it was going to the top. I`d have lost good money.
been in and out of the hospital 3 times in last 2.5 years , 11 days ICU one time . Last one full shoulder replacement Sep 2nd just starting to exercise again very slowly and very light weight im 62 been working out whole life had to take 2 years off . Ilove how you put the scientific facts behind this … Have agreat year guys ill be watching for sure
Hope you recover and are able to get back in the gym sooner rather than later.
“Instagram chest swipes”
Great way of phrasing it and I’m glad you included it just so you can tell people not to do it. It’s so true.
Jeff, a request. Can you record the entirety of one of YOUR workout sessions? From start to finish, enter the gym to exit. All the warmup, stretch, every set and rep. So we see the intensity techniques, the rest times, the order of movements, etc., etc. It would help “put it all together”. Thanks for all you do, it’s said a million times but it bears repeating.
When you purchase a workout from him, he covers most of that. I have purchased beaxst from him and it covers everything from weight to reps. It even gives you a diet to follow. He does not cover a warm up but he does include an ab exercise to do. The workout also includes the amount of rest in between sets. I hope this helps and stay motivated. That is the hardest part of any workout lol.
I love this content and would love to see it on the other sections of the chest as well just like you did with shoulders breaking it down into the three heads of your shoulder. Also would like to see similar videos for biceps, triceps, and legs. Great work Jeff and Jesse you guys keep it up thank you.
I did arms and chest tonight at the gym. I had a feeling I needed to watch this. Unfortunately I was doing 1 of the worst workouts. But I also do 1 of the best ones too! I’ll definitely cut that bad one out of my routine. Thanks so much for this Jeff!
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