Have you ever seen a guy with a chest that pops out of his shirt? You know, that Hercules sort of look! He's not a huge bodybuilder, but underneath that shirt, the upper chest sticks out like a sore thumb and appears sculpted and well defined.
Upper chest development depends largely on bone structure and the pectoral attachments to that structure. When doing bench press and dumbbell presses use a medium grip at varying degrees of incline with an emphasis on the 55 to 65 degree range. Focus on the target area by keeping your elbows back and pressing straight overhead, plus a few notches to the rear. When doing barbell inclines your using a rigid bar which is tough on the shoulder rotation for many body structures, whereas the individual dumbbells allow a forgiving range of motion and more accurate targeting.
When performing any chest movement, whether it's a bench press or dumbbell fly, the entire chest will always be affected. It's not possible to completely isolate a muscle. However, a slight shift in angle will create a more pronounced effect on one specific area if the correct overload parameters are used. In the case of the upper chest muscles, it's important to perform movements in an incline position.
Incline Bench Press
Execution of Exercise: Lie on an inclined bench, keep your feet firmly pressed down on the floor for stability. Use a medium width grip (shoulder width) on the bar. Lower the bar from arms length to the upper chest. The bar should be lowered under control and there should be a brief pause on your chest before you return the bar to the starting (arms length) position.
Important Points: Do not bounce the weight off your chest. The bar should move up and down in a straight line i.e. the bar should not move towards your head or feet during the lift, if this happens it is a sign that the bar is not under control. It is common to push the bar out instead of up and therfore a training partner may prove invaluable in finding the correct groove.
Incline Dumbbell Press
Execution of Exercise: Lie on a inclined bench, feet firmly on floor. Make sure that your butt, back, shoulders, and head are firmly positioned on the bench. Roll your shoulders back and down so the shoulder blades are firmly pressed against the bench and the chest is sticking up. This should result in the spine being slightly arched. Your arms should be placed straight up with your hands gripping the a pair of dumbbells. Inhale and hold your breath as you lower the dumbbells. When they reach the chest, begin to move the weight upward. Exhale as you pass the point of greatest resistance. Pause slightly at the top of the movement and repeat.
Important Points: To keep the deltoids (shoulders) from doing too much work, don't allow the rear deltoids to come off the bench, especially the last few inches when pushing the weight up. They should remain in the same position flat on the bench throughout the movementIf you are having trouble balancing the weight make sure that your arms remain relatively vertical throughout the left. The more vertical your arms are, the better your balance will be. The more narrow the grip, the more you involve your triceps. The wider the grip the more the outer area of the chest is worked.
Incline Dumbbell Flies
Execution of Exercise: Hold two dumbbells at arms length with your palms facing each other(inward). Lower the dumbbells down and out in as wide an arc as is comfortable/feasible, pay attention to getting as good a stretch as possible from your pecs. Lower the weights in this wide arc until your elbows are in line with your shoulder blades. From this position pull the weights back up in the wide arc making sure not to press the weight up.
Important Points: Do not move up and down in a jerky or uncontrolled manner - this is a potentially dangerous exercise. Remember that you are using your pecs in this exercise, the weight is pulled/lowered in an arc and there is no pressing involved. This exercise can also be done on a flat bench.