In this article, you can deepen the question on ” high pectoral chest exercises “: Which exercises to develop high pectorals? What to do in practice in the gym? In the gym, one of the main objectives is to increase the muscle mass of the chest, in particular for the male audience passionate about bodybuilding the main target can also be a specific area of the pectoral.
The anatomical and technical specifications are not covered, but it will have a more practical imprint: I, therefore, invite you to read this article on the incline bench to learn more about the topic and be a master of the concepts set out below.
What Are The High Pectorals Chest Exercises?
The pectoralis major is a single muscle, however, composed of several bundles:
- clavicular portion: the famous “high chest”;
- sternocostal portion: defined in the gym as “medium-low chest”.
The clavicular action has the following action:
- flexion (raise the arm towards the head),
- adduction of the humerus (bring the arm to the opposite side),
- internal rotation of the humerus.
The second, the sternocostal, on the other hand:
- adduction of the humerus,
- internal rotation of the humerus and extension of the same from maximum flexion (what happens when you do traction on the bar or lat machine).
The two portions work in synergy in the adduction, they do not work as an ON-OFF switch, we can speak of greater activation in some cases of one portion than the other, but not of exclusive activation. So the answer is yes, there is a tall chest but it is not a muscle in its own right.
The fundamentals to be able to develop the pectorals correctly are:
- Shoulders with physiological mobility
- Excellent awareness and control of scapular movements
Pectorals at the Incline Bench
The important points to remember, consider, and apply in all variations are:
- An inclination of at least 45 ° of the bench activates the upper chest more, but also the front deltoid, but activates the sternocostal bundles less.
- The grip on the bar should not be too wide or too tight, indicatively slightly wider than the shoulders.
- The elbow, seen from the side, must always be below the load (barbell, dumbbell).
- It is not mandatory to tilt the bench to stimulate the high chest more, the “tight grip” already activates the clavicular bundles more in itself even on the flat bench.
- Maintain the correct setup throughout the movement: shoulders down, shoulder blades close together, chest high.
High Pecs With Barbell
A variant that allows the use of good loads and requires less “technique” in terms of trajectory during movement compared to dumbbells. Recommended as a first step before eventually switching to dumbbells for inexperienced subjects. During the movement, you must keep your elbow under the bar and feel a load moving upwards.
Avoid bounces in the chest and jumps, be very careful under effort not to cripple the movement by going up wrong or losing the correct setup. If you find it difficult to keep the correct shoulder setting during the lift, you can do a variation with a 1-2 ″ break in the chest with each repetition.
Dumbbell Chest Workout
A very technical variant, it requires good control and maintenance of the optimal trajectory during the exercise. Many perform dumbbells with the humerus abducted at 90 ° (with the elbows at shoulder height) which makes lifting more “dangerous” and less effective at a muscular level as well as making it difficult to maintain the correct scapular setting.
It allows for a greater degree of movement than the barbell variant and less constrained movement, which is not necessarily a good thing. The usable load in an absolute sense may be less than the barbell variant, but with probably greater muscle stimulation due to the greater degrees of movement.
Crosses On Inclined Bench
An even more technical variant than that with dumbbells, it requires excellent mobility and awareness under load, not suitable for subjects who do not master the previous variants well.
In this case, too, a lot of attention should be paid to the trajectory of the humerus during the movement, which must not remain abducted at 90 ° in the descent, but should approach the torso slightly, reaching the previously mentioned 45-60 ° of abduction when lowered.
The usable load is limited compared to the previous variants, here it is not recommended to work at rep ranges of less than 8 repetitions, but obviously, it must also be evaluated with what time under tension you decide to perform each repetition.
High Pecs On A Flat Bench With A Tight Grip
For the variants on the narrow grip flat bench you have to make some considerations :
- Maintain here the correct setup throughout the movement: low shoulders, shoulder blades close together, high chest.
- The humerus must be abducted by about 45-60 °: therefore the arm must not be adherent to the torso but do not keep the elbows at shoulder height.
- Thus, the upper chest is activated more (the difference with respect to the inclined variant is not clear) and there is greater activation of the sternocostal bundles compared to the 45 ° bench press and less activation of the front deltoid.
- The elbow must always be below the load (barbell, dumbbell).
In the variants with barbells and dumbbells, the considerations made for the variants on an inclined bench apply.
Crosses To The Low Cables
This variant is performed standing, positioning yourself further forward than the cables to start in an optimal pre-stretch position of the pectoral. The movement is a horizontal flexion and adduction of the shoulder (I raise my arm upwards thinking of joining my hands in front of you); if possible it may be sensible to finish the movement with the palms facing each other (partial non-forced internal rotation of the humerus).
Do not bring the shoulders towards the ears during the ascent (raising the shoulder blades), avoid jerks and jolts during the execution of the movement.
It is a type of exercise that does not provide great stress in stretching but can find its place on the card in a rep range that generally goes from 8 to 15-20 repetitions.
Bodyweight Home Exercises For High Pecs
Let’s see some variations that you can perform bodyweight if you don’t have the weights available. The points to be respected are the same seen in the paragraph on the incline bench, the difference is that the minimum usable load will be that of our body. This is good if you are relatively weak, bad if you are already well trained.
Use a medium grip, with the humerus, abducted 45 to 60 degrees when low, as seen for the barbell and dumbbell variants. The shoulder setup is slightly different and you can learn more about this exercise by reading this article on pushups.
Unlike the bench press, keep the shoulders slightly extended (not excessively) and the shoulder blade “glued to the chest” at the start. An additional difficulty is given by the fact that the pelvis due to the force of gravity will tend to fall downwards and you will therefore have to keep the core active to stay in line with the trunk. Pelvis and shoulders go down and up together.
If you are very strong you can use an overload such as a backpack with weights such as books or cans of protein powder or your partner on your shoulders (if you are single, a sufficiently heavy friend is fine too).
Be very careful to keep your elbow above your wrist, so when viewed from the side you should have your forearm perpendicular to the ground. You can use raises under the hands as well as low parallels to increase the range of motion.
Push-ups With The Feet Raised
A variant that simulates the incline bench, here you have greater involvement of the frontal deltoid and a muscle work probably almost similar (but certainly not identical) to the variant on the incline bench, depending on how high you keep your feet.
The scapular setting is almost similar to the foot-on-the-ground variant and made more difficult by the fact that you have taller feet.
Variants With TRX And Rings
These tools are used to perform the free body variants seen in the two previous paragraphs. Their use allows a free grip with greater freedom of movement and a wider ROM.
The difficulty lies in the stabilization component during the movement which must be greater and will “disperse” part of the energy that you can convey to the target district with weights.
Their use is recommended when the level in bending with hands-on low parallels or the floor is excellent. In any case, being adjustable you can vary the inclination of the bust to make them feasible and gradually heavier over time.
High Pectorals With Rubber Bands
There is little to say, the rubber bands provide the limited possibility of overload, you can work with them by reproducing the movement of the crosses at the low standing cables or working on them in static if you want.
The advice is to focus on variations of pushups if you don’t have weights available and use variations with bands as “finishing exercises”.
How To Train And Develop High Pecs?
We assume that when we talk about high pectorals we have to think about the chest as a whole. The appropriate selection of exercises and their execution will be fundamental.
The parameters you will find are a guideline, assuming you want to work mainly on the clavicular bundles of the chest, as such, they should not be taken and randomly placed on the card.
How many reps and sets to do?
The volume of work on the chest can range a lot: 12-20 sets per week.
The rep ranges that can be used are many, the advice is to focus mainly on the range that goes from 6 to 15; periodizing in this range during the various phases of your journey.
Nothing prevents you from going outside this range, but most of the year the recommended work hovers around this intensity zone.
How many times to train them per week?
From 1 to 3 times a week, even here it is subjective and the frequency must be evaluated together with volume, intensity, and exercise selection.
In conclusion, we can say that the logic with which you can work in function of a possible deficient point, such as the clavicular bundles of the chest, are many.
The important thing is to carefully evaluate the subject we are facing by adapting the programming accordingly, it is certain that you must necessarily have the knowledge of what you are working on: studying and analyzing the context to avoid choices made a priority and really start customizing the job.
Often we focus on the specific scheme or variant when the technical capacity to make them effective is lacking; therefore it becomes important to learn the movements first.
There are no magic formulas, to get results you will have to start seeing training in the gym as it is seen in all other sports, that is, as a means (because the goal is aesthetic).