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    Upper chest exercises isolation ?

    Hello, i have a question. I know that chest has lower/middle/upper parts of pecs, most of compound exercises targers all of them, but some of them target specific areas more (dips = lower pec, classic dumbell press = middle, incline = upper). I have a question about upper chest exercises like weighted decline push-ups, incline bench, if they isolate upper chest heavily, or if they target middle pecs too ? Im asking because i started doing weighted dips instead of classic dumbell press and my chest got bigger, so im doing them, but they target mostly lower pecs, so i want to know if weighted dips + incline dumbell/barbell press in 1 workout session will hit the whole chest optimally. Thanks
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    As I understand it, things like incline bench just activate lower chest less - they don't activate upper chest more. This is evident in that you move less weight therefore are engaging less total tissue.

    My view on chest is to mostly use flat or slight incline barbell or dumbell bench press as the main movement. I then use cable flys at various heights, grip angles and offsets (cables to the side of you vs. cables behind you) and that's pretty much all you need. Cables are mostly to change the force curve vs the standard bench rpess and allow easy grip changes - they allow some extra tissue activation that you might not get from benching plus they take triceps out of the mix if they get tired.
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    Registered User MG5's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    As I understand it, things like incline bench just activate lower chest less - they don't activate upper chest more. This is evident in that you move less weight therefore are engaging less total tissue.

    My view on chest is to mostly use flat or slight incline barbell or dumbell bench press as the main movement. I then use cable flys at various heights, grip angles and offsets (cables to the side of you vs. cables behind you) and that's pretty much all you need. Cables are mostly to change the force curve vs the standard bench rpess and allow easy grip changes - they allow some extra tissue activation that you might not get from benching plus they take triceps out of the mix if they get tired.
    This, but dips are a great chest exercise for me as well. But yes, weighted dips leaning forward to hit your chest and incline bench are great and in my opinion, enough to build a good chest. Down the road I'd add in more variety like flyes, but that's certainly a good start. Just focus on progressive overload in some form on those while maintaining proper form and technique.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    As I understand it, things like incline bench just activate lower chest less - they don't activate upper chest more. This is evident in that you move less weight therefore are engaging less total tissue.

    My view on chest is to mostly use flat or slight incline barbell or dumbell bench press as the main movement.
    Wasn't expecting this to be your opinion honestly, given how much flack the flat bench seems to take on this forum relative to the incline press or other alternatives.
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    Best thing to focus on would be matching the arm path with the fibers you're trying to target, DB press or cable flyes are going to be your best bet. So a decent amount of elbow tuck and driving elbows to clavicles. Like SP, whole chest is still working, but you can bias particular divisions. Bench angle can be 30-45 or maybe even a bit more.

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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    As I understand it, things like incline bench just activate lower chest less - they don't activate upper chest more. This is evident in that you move less weight therefore are engaging less total tissue..
    I thought that incline works the upper chest a little more. And the reason why you move less weight is that the front delts (small group) are used more during incline. And even less front delt during decline, and usually people can bench more with decline than with flat.

    https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/a...xercise.3.aspx
    "Also, the clavicular head of the pectoralis major was no more active during the incline bench press than during the horizontal one, but it was less active during the decline bench press."

    Supinated (reverse) grip bench press (barbell or dumbell) can work the upper chest a little more, but I find this movement awkward for the wrists and shoulders.
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    Underhand bench press for upper chest, all the way. Tricky to learn, but worth it. Also convenient because you don't need to be on an incline to use it, although you can use one if you want.
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    Registered User jk202's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheShadowMan View Post
    Underhand bench press for upper chest, all the way. Tricky to learn, but worth it. Also convenient because you don't need to be on an incline to use it, although you can use one if you want.
    Don't get why people are so hell bent on this. You can get the same effect/ arm path with dumbbells with far better joint alignment.

    Pecs don't attach to the hands/wrist, so how you grip the bar is irrelevant, upper arm path is really all that matters
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    Originally Posted by jk202 View Post
    Don't get why people are so hell bent on this. You can get the same effect/ arm path with dumbbells with far better joint alignment.

    Pecs don't attach to the hands/wrist, so how you grip the bar is irrelevant, upper arm path is really all that matters

    Greg Nuckols: "The clavicular fibers of your pecs (upper chest) are oriented in a way that allows them to aid quite a bit in shoulder flexion. With the reverse grip bench, you’ll generally touch the bar quite a bit lower on your chest/stomach, getting your upper pecs a bit more involved in the lift. Research has shown that reverse grip bench with a wide grip produces roughly 25-30% more upper pec muscle activation than bench with a pronated grip.

    For the same reason, reverse grip bench is generally more challenging for your front delts as well. Additionally, it’s way harder for your biceps; the same study found that biceps muscle activation was roughly twice as high for reverse grip bench than benching with a pronated grip. Now, the biceps probably still won’t be a limiting factor for most people, though they may be for some powerlifters who tend to grossly neglect biceps training. If you have shoulder or elbow issues when benching, it’s worth giving the reverse grip bench a shot. For a lot of people, it’s much more comfortable than benching with a pronated grip because it allows your shoulders to be externally rotated (so there’s a lower risk of impingement, and you have a lower risk of medial elbow pain)."

    Source: https://www.strongerbyscience.com/ho...ip_bench_press


    Study source:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16095407/


    Even when I do an isometric press with the bare hand I can feel the upper chest more activated with a supinated arm.
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    Greg Nuckols: "The clavicular fibers of your pecs (upper chest) are oriented in a way that allows them to aid quite a bit in shoulder flexion. With the reverse grip bench, you’ll generally touch the bar quite a bit lower on your chest/stomach, getting your upper pecs a bit more involved in the lift. Research has shown that reverse grip bench with a wide grip produces roughly 25-30% more upper pec muscle activation than bench with a pronated grip.

    For the same reason, reverse grip bench is generally more challenging for your front delts as well. Additionally, it’s way harder for your biceps; the same study found that biceps muscle activation was roughly twice as high for reverse grip bench than benching with a pronated grip. Now, the biceps probably still won’t be a limiting factor for most people, though they may be for some powerlifters who tend to grossly neglect biceps training. If you have shoulder or elbow issues when benching, it’s worth giving the reverse grip bench a shot. For a lot of people, it’s much more comfortable than benching with a pronated grip because it allows your shoulders to be externally rotated (so there’s a lower risk of impingement, and you have a lower risk of medial elbow pain)."

    Source: https://www.strongerbyscience.com/ho...ip_bench_press


    Study source:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16095407/


    Even when I do an isometric press with the bare hand I can feel the upper chest more activated with a supinated arm.
    I'm not comparing bench and reverse bench. Can you not see how you can bring your arms on the same exact arm path with dumbbells?
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    Originally Posted by jk202 View Post
    I'm not comparing bench and reverse bench. Can you not see how you can bring your arms on the same exact arm path with dumbbells?

    I was commenting on the "Pecs don't attach to the hands/wrist, so how you grip the bar is irrelevant" not on the "You can get the same effect/ arm path with dumbbells"

    Yeah, it's the same path using dumbbells. And I prefer using dumbbells. Your exercise (the instagram exercise - dumbells, medium incline) is the best for for the upper chest for me.

    Probably some (like Nuckols) prefer the reverse grip barbell bench press because they can put more weight and require less stabilization than dumbells.
    And the external rotation at the bottom that probably gives a better stretch for the chest.
    Plus lower risk of impingement.
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    Thumbs up

    Great thread! I’m glad to learn more about the biomechanics of the close-elbow bench press. (It’s not really “reverse grip” for me, since I use dumbbells and a neutral grip. I can feel the upper pec focus.)
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    Land mine press is also good but I think incline is better. Weight is easier to manage on incline
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    Originally Posted by jk202 View Post
    I'm not comparing bench and reverse bench. Can you not see how you can bring your arms on the same exact arm path with dumbbells?
    I think more people get more upper chest with reverse grip bench because it lets them keep the elbows (and by extension, the upper arms) tucked close to the body.

    I prefer dumbbells for reverse grip anything, but honestly I get more out of a hammer (neutral) grip and keep the elbows close to the body.
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    Wasn’t there a thread last month about how emphasizing the upper chest is only useful if you have low clavicular insertions? What’s the consensus on that?
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