My Natty Upper Chest Routine Kind Of Worked… (very simple, but effective chest workout for naturals)

| by Truth Seeker |

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.

Main points:

  • 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).

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  1. Ryu

    Your gains are probably due to mass transfer theory.

    After a few years, a bodybuilder will have terrific trouble gaining more muscle. He can SHIFT the muscle around the body, by training one part more and other less, but adding more total mass becomes impossible.

    The muscle you gained in your upper chest probably came from your back or legs. I remember you used to pull often. It could also have come from the tris or lower chest, as you didn’t list any flat work.

    The upper chest is just a small and “thin” area, that a little bit of muscle gain looks like alot. And no natty as a “shelf”.

    With pros and with natties, mass transfer holds. Even with roids, genetics and food intake, Those “what a difference 10 years videos” are very enlightening.

    Even with roids and training with Charles Glass’s magical exercises, Dexter didn’t look any different after 7 whole years of gear and hard training. Much of bodybuilding “progress” is an illusion.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I didn’t know who he is, but that is indeed a true 100% natty physique.

  2. User

    It’s nice to see you posting again
    Ps. Do you think could open the forum again?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Yes. I opened it 1-2 weeks ago. Are you having issue registering?

      1. User

        I can’t respond to comments or create new threads (I don’t think I have permission). I wanted to share some ideas.
        Could you help me?

  3. Esteban

    What is the rest of your routine look like?

    Good post.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Back and Arms

      T-bar rows (a homemade version) – 3×8
      One arm DB rows -3×8

      I do these exercise on a small platform to increase the range of motion.

      Triceps – 5 sets of 6-10 overhead triceps extensions (used to do PJR pullover but transitioned to this for a little while)
      Biceps – 3 sets of 8-10 incline curls (also done on chest day)


      Hack squat machines – 3 works set plus 5 back off sets
      Seated hamstring curl – 3 sets of 8-12
      Seated Calf raises – 5 sets of 10-12 (I also do standing calf raises on chest day).

      But my calves will always be subpar due to my insertions.

      1. Beelzeboss

        I don’t understand why did you switch to more isolation style workouts, for example, seated calf raises to me are just masturbation, total waste of time, especially when the goal is mass, I am just surprised, same for hamstring curls, why not stiff legged deadlifts?

        1. Truth Seeker Post author

          Because they stress the CNS less, are faster and reduce overall fatigue. At this point, the main goal for me is to “just do something”. I don’t care about being functional or cool anymore.

          1. Sergio

            Not at all the only thing I thought would be the translate button, in fact I read all your books

      2. Esteban

        Why dont yoy include pull ups?

        Thanks for the response.

        1. Truth Seeker Post author

          I prefer rows as they hit more of the back musculature and allow you to accumulate more volume. I also like the feeling in the mid-back that rows produce.

      3. John

        Hello TruthSeeker. Very good article as always. I would like to try your full routine (chest, back/arms, legs) but i can do each workout every 3-4 days instead of every other day. Is it a good Idea or it would hinder the progress? Thanks!

        1. Truth Seeker Post author

          It will be just fine. You can increase the volume thanks to the extra rest days.

          1. John

            Gradually adding one set per workout until I reach 6-8 sets for each exercise? Which one of your books has more of this kind of routines? Taining focus?

  4. Kiberbirdo

    Hi, I haven’t written here in a while. Do you think culture is changing? Like, are we men winning rights and representation of our problems within culture? Society is going to start talking about the “reification” of men? (Sex objects, roids, success objects, money?) I kinda feel we are in the middle of it, and fake natties and all the damage they’ve done are gonna be exposed soon. I live in México and antisemitism and anti misandry is on the rise here. And as far as I can tell, in all the “developed” world.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      It’s far from over, but we may indeed be getting close to the middle. But in practice, nothing has changed. The small shift is barely perceivable.

  5. Kiberbirdo

    I’ve noticed a few things that are on our side that have happened these last few years.
    First the WHO released new guidelines in which they claimed that psychology and psychiatry are being used to ignore social problems and basically victim blame (reminds me of these conversations I have had with feminazis about male suicide statistics. Their argument is that it is because they don’t seek help from the shrinks, well, now the WHO is saying shrinks actually make things worst without any accountability). Second, I feel that the political caste has noticed that they have to incentive men to get married (see for example south Korea and china) and that it cannot happen within the current t laws and culture. Third, related to the second. Here in Latin America we are using as an example the laws that were pushed by the ministerio de igualdad in Spain, by a so called Irene Montero. Basically the presumption of innocence was eliminated for men by this bitch. Just 4 days after Milei won in Argentina she was taken out of office. And 4th the polarization of politics between the sexes.

  6. TruthLover

    TruthSeeker, what do you think about the Barbell Medicine guys and their templates?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I am not familiar with them. I am out of touch with a lot of the modern fitness scene.

      I am kinda old now and don’t know the young kids.

      1. TruthLover

        They used to be part of the Mark Rippetoe gang but broke off after they realized that Mark was more interested in fattening people up than improving their appearance and health.

        I was curious about whether they were natty and giving good advice because they’re also doctors.

    2. Sergio

      Porque no me funciona el bajo volumen y repes bajas cojo rutina de ectomorfos enfocada arriba echa por ti y hasta q no añadí volumen no funcionaba

      1. Truth Seeker Post author

        I don’t speak Spanish. You probably think that I am the Spanish channel, but they are just stealing my content. So, please, go ask this question on their stealing channel.

  7. Sergio

    Not at all the only thing I thought would be the translate button, in fact I read all your books

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support.

  8. Ani

    Hi truth seeker. I have some questions. I hope you can help me with theses.

    What body fat percentage do a person need to get hollow cheeks? And, how do you know your body fat percentage?

    Is it possible to have visible abs all the time (without flexig them)?

    Are you familiar with the concept of hormesis in training?

    Is dehydration needed to look shredded? Or low body fat is enough?

    Is it possible to have low subcoutaneous fat but high visceral fat? What to do in that case?

    Is fasting better for burning fat?, or is it better to eat little portions frequently because of metabolism?

    Are fat face and belly face related?

    Is pottasium needed to fight bloating? Or is it just marketing?

    Thank you very much.

  9. Truth Seeker Post author

    1. Technically yes, but first you have to get super lean and second you have to love the lifestyle that comes with maintaining that look. The more genetically predisposed you are to this state, the easier it is.

    In practice, having your last row of abs always visible is not easy to maintain for most people.

    2. I don’t know what that is.

    3. Both work, but I think fasting is faster overall.

    4. Dehydration is not needed when your are low body fat. It’s also a state where you don’t want to be for long or ever as it has no health benefits.

    5. Both are a function of body fat. Some people store more fat on their face than others.

    6. If you eat 90% good food, you don’t need supplements, vitamins..etc. (unless you have a specific condition).

    1. TruthLover

      Regarding the fact that the last row of abs not being visible. I managed to get my abs 5 months ago but binge ate myself to a fat slob again since.

      Do you have any strategy for getting back to being lean again or is it time to finally accept that my genes don’t want a lean physique?

      1. Truth Seeker Post author

        I can’t do it. To keep the last two abs visible I simply have to be hungry all the time. So I can manage only for a few months.

        You either have “lean genes” or lead a lifestyle that is favorable for remaining lean. Building natural muscle isn’t conducive to getting super lean. You can’t build muscle naturally in a deficit and you can’t remain super lean unless you keep the calories low.

        Also, eating makes me happier than having a cut physique 🙂

        1. TruthLover

          Does it affect your dating life though? I was more confident when I was lean but now that I’m fat again, I realized that women don’t really care about my physique, so I’m trying to loosen up a bit and stop being so self conscious.

          1. Truth Seeker Post author

            Being leaner is better for overall looks, especially if you tend to store a lot of fat on the face (double chin).

            But as the good old saying goes “A woman have decided to F* you long before she’d seen your abs.” Of course, this is only true if you don’t upload your abs on your profile.

            As long as you are not really fat, ab visibility is more like a bonus rather than a game-changer.

    2. Ani

      Thank you truth seeker!

      Hormesis is a biological response to physiological stressors. For example, after stressful conditions in training, it can generate a positive response in the body against oxidative stress, a more efficient use of glycogen reserves, etc.

      How do I know what is my body fat percentage?

  10. Juanjo

    I only have one question for you, how should I plan my training if I use the routines from your books specialization in ectomorphs and the work of 6, 6 8, 8 10,10 doesn’t work for me because I can’t lift heavy it hurts me a lot because I have bones very fine, I increased the volume and the reps and it started to give me results, how could I plan in the long term to maintain that specialization for years

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Built to 25 reps then increase the weight so that 15 reps feel challenging.

      So, the cycle is 15 reps – get to 25 reps – add weight – 15 reps – get to 25 reps…etc.

  11. Lucas

    I really thought you were taking a more minimalistic approach and making yourself a little bit less slave to the barbell house.

    That’s what I’m doing. For chest, for example, I do only one drop set twice a week. For arms, three sets and so on.

    In my experience, I’ve pretty sure I’m able to maintain more than 90% of my mucles potential size.

    Could I add half an inch if did many more sets? Like, 10 sets per mucle? Sure. Ive done that. But is it worth it? To me it’s definitely not worth it. I simply got tired of being a slave to the barbel house and to what society consider to be signs of a successful man.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I agree. Sooner or later, this is what I do too. But I also have burst of motivation where I would try a different routine here and there simply for fun.

      1. Sam

        It’s exactly the same for me. Nowadays my biggest strength training “ambitions” mostly come from trying to think how little I could actually train without loosing too much of my miniscule gains. I’ve been training more or less the same way for nearly two years now, and if I change a thing or two here and there, I still seem to always get back to the basic routine. But every now and then for shits and giggles I do something differently. Couple of weeks ago after a pullup session I saw my very old 5 kg / 11 lbs dumbbells gathering dust in a corner of a room. I picked them up without thinking or planning too much. Then I wiped the dust off from them. Then I did the following session in superset fashion in as little time as I could:

        3 x 20 bicep curls
        3 x 20 hammer curls

        With the reps I rested a bit when needed, then continued. When my biceps where just too pumped and burning I did wrist curls and then continued. Got a good pump even though I was using light weights and had a good time. During next couple of days I realized that my biceps where a bit sore. Then I was travelling and the hotel I was living in had a gym. I had planned on doing a bit of weight stuff for arms, but my biceps just didn’t agree. So much for shits and giggles, and light weights. But doing things differently every now and then is refreshing. I also think that it is what most people do when they feel like it, but most of the time they have that base routine they are doing.

  12. Juanjo

    You are very big but in your books you always focus on progression with loads and I think you can focus on volume of sets and it is healthier. How many sets per muscle do you think would be the maximum and from there you would lose time?

  13. Oldboy

    For my chest i am using rings only. I start with the upper chest 6 sets of handstand pushups on rings, not extremely vertical în order to feel my upper chest (with elastic bands for now), then 6 sets of dips(sometimes weighted), and 3 sets of ring pushups. At the finish i do 3 simple handstands on the wall. The rep range is between 6 and 12, it depends of how rested i feel that day. This training i am doing it once a week.

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