Last year, I posted about my experience with Gironda’s neck press as an upper chest builder.
You can read it here.
In short, I concluded that the neck press wasn’t all that great for my upper chest area and that I had to try a new routine.
The new routine was desperately simple:
Frequency: 2 times a week
Incline DB Bench Press with Neutral Grip (palms facing each other) – 4 sets of 8-15 reps
Incline DB Press with Standard Grip (palms facing away from you) – 3 sets of 8-15 reps
DB pull-overs – 3 sets 8-12 reps
Changing the Angle To 30-40 Degrees Was Crucial
As some may recall, the incline DB press was part of my previous plan.
However, for the new routine, I steepened the bench angle (I train at home and have a homemade wooden bench press) to somewhere between 30-40 degrees. (Before the angle was between 20-30 degrees.)
This move made a major difference. I instantly felt more activation of the middle and upper chest area.
The first few weeks, there was slight discomfort in my right shoulder. I minimized it by doing the exercise slowly and with a 1-2 second pause at the bottom.
Eventually, my shoulder stopped hurting.
DB Pullovers – Why?
For a long time, I thought of the pullover primarily as a lat exercise which it is, of course.
However, last year I accidentally discovered that it can be used to hit the upper chest.
I was doing mega-high-volume routines and very often I would simply add reps because I’d be too lazy to change the plates on my adjustable dumbbells.
My triceps workout consisted of PJR Pullovers for 5 sets of 10-20 reps.
One time during the final stages of this pump marathon I noticed that my body would start to cheat more and more and felt a sick upper chest pump. Before that, I’d never had a pump like that.
So, my conclusion was that if I could get such a sick pump during PJR pullovers, the standard pullover should be even better.
I immediately added pullovers to my chest session.
And for a while, that “sick upper chest pump” continued. But eventually, it stopped. I honestly didn’t know why, but I couldn’t get the same upper chest involvement (or perception) no matter what.
Nonetheless, I kept the pullover as a last exercise as I found it beneficial for improving my posture too.
So, what were the results after 5-7 months?
One time when I was doing something at home, I accidentally caught my reflection in the mirror and saw that my mid-upper chest area is pushing slightly through my T-shirt.
Here’s an important rule: whenever you accidentally notice an improvement, it’s legit. If you notice an improvement when you deliberately flex, it could be the result of angle manipulation.
I am not saying that my upper chest is insane. But that middle area definitely improved.
The parts of my collarbones closer to the shoulders are still exposed, though. This is also due to my chest insertions. Even some professional bodybuilders have some collarbone showing. If I add a bit more overall mass, I expect the gap to close slightly but never completely.
Overall, I can say that this upper chest routine got me better results than the Gironda neck press.
I realize that it’s nothing special, but if you have a lagging upper chest, try it for a few months and report back.
- Make sure that the incline angle is at least 30 degrees.
- Pause at the bottom of the press to kill the stretch reflex and make it harder on the muscles and easier on the joints. You will need very little weight to get a brutal pump.
- When performing the press think ONLY of the chest. Imagine how your chest is pulling your elbows up but also towards each other. To get a feel for it, use a light set of dumbbells.
- When performing the pullover use little weight and do NOT move the DB until your arms form a 90-degree angle against your torso. Instead, stop slightly before that point. I found out that this method increases the involvement of the chest for whatever reason.
- Keep the rest between sets fairly short. But don’t be afraid to rest a little longer if you need to catch your breath. As long as you are not resting for 5+ minutes between sets, it’s all good.
- For some people, that much push volume 2 times a week could be an issue if there’s dedicated shoulder training. Personally, I consider direct front and rear delt a waste of time.
- My progression was desperately simple – keep the weight the same for 3 weeks; try to add reps each workout; add weight after three weeks (no more than 1kg per DB).