Which exercises target the upper chest?

Hi guys (and gals :p)

I don't know if it's just my genetics but my upper chest is lagging behind the rest of my chest.

Currently I do dips, incline and fliys yet my upper chest doesn't look as developed as the rest.

I may start just doing two incline chest exercises and one flat but I wanted to some input first. Has anyone had this issue? What does everyone think are the best exercises for targeting the upper chest?




Hi. How long have you been training? What does your training split look like?

You've likely opened a can of worms regarding training upper chest vs. middle/lower.

It has not been conclusively shown that the incline bench press (or incline fly) targets the upper chest (clavicular head of the Pectoralis Major) more than flat or even decline bench pressing.

One fairly recently study (2010) showed that a bench with a 44 degree incline caused the upper chest to be most active, yet earlier studies showed no real difference between flat and incline bench pressing.

Anecdotally, most experienced trainers I know do give credence to incline bench pressing targetting the upper chest and personally I would tend to agree. You will however get people who think it's not possible to target specific regions of the chest (I think they're misguided in that assertion, but I equally think it's misguided to think you can isolate regions to any meaningful degree).

I do think it's an overkill including two incline movements, even if your upper chest is lagging behind. What does your current chest routine look like? If you tend to use cable flys, chest dips etc then they'll target the chest through a similar angle to a decline press which may leave the clavicular head with little work.

I think you're right though, it's most likely genetic. The upper chest is also one of the last places to "fill out" in many people, hence asking how long you've been training.


Wow, thanks for this response. I've been training for about 18 months now.

I switch up the exercises but currently it's:

Weight dips 3 x8 reps
Incline bench press 3 x 8 reps
Fly machine 3 x 12 reps

What do you think?

Okay thanks, I won't do two incline exercises :)


It doesn't look too bad.

I'd drop the machine flys for something else. I actually quite rate cable flys on a flat bench in between two cable stations if your gym allows it.

Are you leaning into the dips? If your torso is upright it will mostly target the tricpes and not the chest.

I would add in a flat bench, either dumbbells or barbell.



Don't over complicate it: Bench press.



I find a slightly incline bench is the best, anything steeper than 30 degrees I think it places too much on the shoulders.


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