So you’ve been working out diligently–and making great progress! It’s evident you’ve gained impressive core strength and your muscles are looking more and more chiseled with each passing day… except for the upper chest, which seems to be lagging and undefined.

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Ah, the upper chest. You’re not alone; it’s a problem area for many people. The pectoral muscles are often extremely hard to isolate, because the triceps are also used in almost all chest exercises. These tend to carry the brunt of the lifted weight, which unfortunately means your chest muscles don’t get the strength-building exercises they truly need.

So how do you target the upper chest muscles? For those new to weight lifting, it is important to remember that the upper pectoral muscles often completely ignored since there is a strong tendency to focus only on the flat bench press. While this is a great strength exercise, it primarily targets the middle and outer portions of the pectorals. If you want a defined upper chest, you have to give that area the attention it needs–and balanced growth is key. This is accomplished by keeping your exercises varied–so mix it up.

The Close-Grip Bench Press is a great place to start. Simply lie on your back on the top of a flat weight bench, with your feet evenly positioned on the floor in front of you. Grip a barbell with your hands close together–about six inches apart is a good starting point. Now lift the barbell rack above your chest until you are able to straighten your arms. Slowly lower the barbell until it meets your chest, and make sure you keep your elbows close to your sides. Then extend your arms and return to the starting position. Starting off, try to accomplish four sets of eight in this particular exercise.

Another great isolation exercise is the Parallel Bar Dip. Start out by gripping each parallel bar with your palms facing inward. Slowly bend your elbows and lower as far down as comfortably possible. Energetically press up with full force, and extend your arms to return to the starting position. Again, try to accomplish at least four sets of eight.

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You can also work on isolating the chest muscles outside of a traditional gym setting by practicing Wide Arm Pushups. Begin by getting into a normal pushup position, and move each hand a couple inches outward. Then, bend your elbows outward while keeping your body in a straight line. Slowly return to the starting position. Once more, strive for four sets of eight.

Keep practicing these simple exercises and you’ll begin to see results in no time!

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