Long story short, I did the following chest routine over the last 6-8 months (or maybe more. I forgot when I started this routine.)
Incline DB press – 6 sets of 8 reps (This movement wasn’t a new addition.)
Gironda’s neck press – 6 sets of 8-12 reps
My goal was to improve my upper chest. Regardless of what I do the clavicular head is always sleeping.
So, I decided to experiment with Gironda’s neck press.
Just like everybody else, I was worried that it would **** my shoulders. So, I started with just the bar using a Smith machine. Later, I began doing the movement on a regular bench press as the Smith machine was rarely if ever free.
(Many women would do split squats in it and wannabe Chads would do shoulder presses.)
Finally, I switched to dumbbells at home (the best version imo).
After doing the exercise for many months, I came to the following conclusions:
- If you have “standard” shoulders with a normal range of motion, they can take it. In fact, I would argue that this movement would make your shoulders tougher and more flexible since it forces them to get stronger in an uncomfortable position.
I got zero shoulder pain from it. Most people are scared because they imagine benching their max with that form. Don’t worry. That’s not physically possible.
I never went over 1 plate on that exercise and even that felt like too much. The ideal weight for me was around 50-55kg. I kept the reps fairly high (8+). By the end, I was doing sets of 15-18 reps as I didn’t want to add more weight.
For some reason, the exercise feels easier on a regular bench than the Smith machine. The Smith is too aggressive, and you feel in a prison.
I have an acceptable mind-muscle connection with my chest. During a dumbbell press, I can literally tell my chest to lift the weight while reducing the involvement of the arms to a minimum. I didn’t have a lot of trouble activating my chest to the maximum during the Gironda press either.
The most disappointing part was that I never felt my upper pecs working hard. Most of the stress was on the so-called outer pecs (the part of the pecs near the delts). In fact, the stretch was so insane that I was worried I might pull a pec.
Personally, I don’t have the flexibility to touch my upper sternum or neck when doing this exercise and would naturally stop when the bar is a few centimeters away from my body.
The exercise gave me a good overall chest pump, but the collarbone area would still be under-stimulated and only partially pumped (a sign that it hasn’t worked that hard and that the rest of the chest has “bullied it”).
And while the neck press probably did improve my upper chest ever so slightly, I consider the experiment a failure. I didn’t get the results I wanted.
Of course, some people say that the time frame is too short, but I disagree. If something doesn’t produce unquestionable (not necessarily maximum) results in 6-8 months, it never will.
By the end of the journey, I began doing the exercise at home with dumbbells (it’s possible) and it felt so much better than both the barbell and the Smith machine. The stress on the outer pecs was smaller which was a good thing while the overall stress on the chest was “nicer”. The overall pump was insane.
To be honest, I consider the neck press more of an outer pec (lol) and overall chest exercise than specifically an upper chest movement.
I would not recommend this exercise as I don’t think it offers any benefits over a standard incline DB press, for example, and it feels somewhat weird. I am sorry, but I didn’t enjoy doing it all that much. The excessive outer pec stretch is not something I was crazy about either.
I prefer incline DB presses and ring push-ups.
Currently, I am testing a new upper pectoral system (one new movement – nothing unheard of). Honestly, I think I am onto something this time.
If the new routine works semi-decently, I will share it with you. And you can be certain, that if the program shows results for me, it will work for most people too as I have a very stubborn upper chest and average genetics. But I don’t want to praise it just yet as the experiment is just beginning.
I will report back in a couple of months so check the site around Christmas. I hope I would have a post that would cheer you up.
If you want to do this exercise, consider the following tips:
- Lower the weight slowly and under control. (This alone will greatly reduce the strain on the shoulders.)
- Pause at the bottom.
The slow (but not too slow) negative and the pause at the bottom will make the exercise harder and force you to use less weight.