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What Is The Best Upper Chest Exercise?

Ah, the best upper chest exercise. The mystery that is not a mystery. I’ve dedicated a substantial amount of time here on World’s Strongest Librarian to my own training history. Today it’s time to talk about the upper chest, as advertised.

But let me say that as far as the “best chest workout” goes, I think that “best” simply means it gets you the results you want, not want anyone else says you should want.

Like most guys I know, I have gone through various phases where I wanted to get really, really big. Lots of muscle, and of course, I wanted a big chest. All of the bodybuilders in the movies had massive pecs. So I did what most guys do–I bought a bunch of bodybuilding magazines and books and tried to do the same workouts that the pros were doing, with mixed results.

As I have worked my chest for the last few years, I have learned that I am not as interested in actually having a really muscular, gigantic chest, as I am about having the appearance of being heavily muscled in the pectoral area. What does that mean?

Simple. I am able to get the look I want by focusing primarily on the upper chest. If the top region of the pecs is developed, that guy is going to look big up top, whether or not he’s hitting his pecs from every single angle.

The non-secret weapon for this is simply doing the incline press, just like the magazines all said. But for me, the incline press is enough. I leave out the cable crossovers, traditional bench press (unless it is testing well), decline press, and any other supplemental movements in favor of the incline bench press and the overhead press. They give me the look I want and the strength I’m always chasing. This is just personal preference. What is the best exercise can really come down to what you like, that you can commit to doing for as long as it takes to help you get to your goals.

I occasionally change the incline of the bench, and I switch between barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and an axle that I got from Swager Strength Equipment. But the movement pattern is always pretty close to this:

No, that is not me!

Now, I would not tell you to follow any of my advice unless you have the same goals I do. And even then, I’m not a champion, I’m just a passionate guy who loves to lift. I’ve had great results with doing a lot of incline and overhead pressing, and it makes sense to me that most guys would experience similar results.

You’re only limited by how many things you’re willing to try. I do believe the basics usually work best. The only place I really differ is in testing my movements with some range of motion experiments according to the Gym Movement protocol.

Lift heavy, be happy!


Keep in mind that we are all individuals. What is the best exercise? is truly an impossible question if you’re looking for a one size fits all answer.

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