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How To Get A Bigger UPPER CHEST!

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Posted by Scott_Herman - June 28th, 2017

If you're reading this article, and your upper chest is lagging, I'm sure you've already tried a number of variations to try and target that area. Well, I'm here to tell you that you have not tried everything. First of all, you guys have got to understand that the pec major is one big muscle that covers your entire chest. Anatomically speaking, there is no upper chest, mid chest, or lower chest. It's all pec major. What you're basically doing when you're training is you're utilising different movements to try and place more emphasis on these areas to try to spark some muscle growth. However, if you don't know how to activate these muscle fibers properly, your upper chest will always be lagging.

But don't worry, I have the solution to help you out, and it's by incorporating the low-to-high chest cable fly into your workouts. To be honest, the majority of the people I talk to in the gym think that this exercise is for the lower chest. This is the main reason they have a hard time establishing a solid mind-muscle connection to place more emphasis on their upper chest to begin with.

Which Is Better, Cables Or Dumbbells?

With that being said, let's go over proper form, and go over the mistakes made with this exercise. However, before we get into the mistakes, I'm sure many of you are wondering why we're using a cable, and not dumbbells. It's quite simple. Cables provide resistance throughout the entire range of motion, especially at the top of the movement, which is where dumbbells are inferior. Also, with cables, you take a step forward so that the weight stack is suspended throughout the entire set, allowing you to get a stretch at the bottom, and a hard flex at the top.

Now, you can use bands as well if you don't have access to a machine, because at the end of the day, we're not trying to overload on how much weight we're using, we're trying to establish a stronger mind-muscle connection. So the focus isn't how much you can lift, it's how much you can activate those muscle fibers, and place more emphasis on your upper chest. Now let's go over the mistakes people make when performing this movement.

Mistake #1: Hooking

This is usually a mistake which happens when you use too much weight. Proper form for this exercise involves stepping forward so that the weight stacks aren't touching. You should be standing with one foot in front of the other for optimal stability, and then with a slight bend in your elbows you'll bring the cables up so that your hands are about in-line with your chin, and then return to the starting position.

What happens when you start to fatigue, especially if you are using too much weight, is that instead of maintaining a SLIGHT bend in your elbows, you end up hooking the weight with your elbows at 90 degrees or less, which brings a lot more biceps and front delts into the movement. It might look cool that you're doing a lot of weight on the machine like this, but you're taking so much engagement away from your chest that it turns it into a pointless exercise where you're not targeting your chest at all.

Mistake #2: Flared Elbows

If you're trying to isolate and target your upper chest as much as possible, you want to be able to flex that area as you perform the movement. The only way you're going to be able to do that efficiently is by bringing your arms in as close as you can when you get to the top of the movement, and then come back down and repeat for reps.

You don't want to look like you're trying to hug a big oak tree. This seems to happen more on cable machines because of how far apart the cables are. What I mean by this is that people will flare their elbows, and will come out and around like there is a massive tree in front of them. This will also result in more deltoid coming into the movement.

What you want to do instead is come underneath and up, and as you come up, you'll see your chest pop up. If you try it with just one arm, you'll notice just one of your pecs popping up, and if you focus on that mind-muscle connection, you can really feel that upper chest working.

Mistake #3: Leaning Forward

Some people will lean TOO FAR forward. In order for this exercise to really target your upper chest, you need to keep your chest UP the entire time you are performing the movement. It's pretty easy to remember – you're trying to target the upper chest, so keep your chest up as high as you can. A lot of times you will see people start off that way, but as they start to fatigue, they lean too far forward and become hunched over.

Once again, this mistakes causes more emphasis to be placed on your deltoids, rather than your chest or upper chest.This also happens because of how heavy the weight is – people lean forward in order to compensate and use a lot of weight. But you have to understand that this exercise is not meant to be done with a lot of weight. It's meant to be done to help you build on that mind-muscle connection, and ultimately build a bigger upper chest. So if you notice you're starting to lean forward too much, lower the weight, then get back into it and do the movement properly, with your chest up the entire time.

Mistake #4: Not Maintaining A Tight Core (Breathing Techniques)

Whenever you're doing an exercise that requires you to stand up and hold an upright posture, you've got to keep your core as tight as possible. Otherwise, what happens is you will go into spinal flexion, and you'll lose a lot of power that you could have to put into the exercise to lift as much weight as possible.

If you don't keep your core tight while doing low-to-high cable flys, you'll start to bend forward. This normally happens at the top of the movement, when the weight gets too heavy and forces you to bend with your upper back to compensate. What you want to do, is take ina breath through your nose, keep your core as tight as you can, bring the weight up, go back to the starting position, then breathe out and reset your breath at the bottom of the movement.

The stronger and tighter your core is, no matter what exercise you're doing, the more weight you're always going to be able to handle. So, once you are in your starting position with one foot in front of the other, that's when you take in your breath. Flex your core as tight as you can, keep that air in there, and don't reset your breath until you get back to the bottom position.


You should be seeing a repeating pattern with these mistakes – the more weight you're trying to lift, the more it starts to affect your form. Usually a lot of the load transfers more to yours shoulders, and comes away from your chest. This exercise is not meant to be one where you overload with as much weight as possible, it's just not that kind of movement. It's supposed to be used to help you understand how to flex and squeeze all the fibers in your chest, and for the low-to-high cable fly in-particular, your upper chest. You can then take that and transfer it to other exercises like the incline bench press or the reverse grip bench press to make those exercises more effective.

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