When it comes to chest definition, many are lagging in terms of their upper chest. Now, the age old debate of whether it is possible to isolate the upper chest carries on. One side says that it is impossible to isolate parts of your pectorals while the other says that you can. In my opinion, it is important to establish a middle ground, i.e. it may not be possible to FULLY isolate different parts of your chest but it is possible to focus more on particular parts. For example, if you are doing an incline press, you will be working your entire chest but you can focus more on contracting the upper part of your chest. This is a concept known as the mind muscle connection. In order to bring out lagging body parts, establishing a mind muscle connection can prove vital. The following is a sample of, what I think is, the best chest workout for definition to bring out maximum separation and shredded pecs.
This is a routine that I have compiled to add definition and separation between my pecs as well as to bring out my lagging upper chest. This routine will be intense, and involves the use of pyramid sets and drop sets. The reps will be in the range of 10-12 focusing on hypertrophy. In order to keep heart rate up aim for rest periods under 45 seconds.
I always start my chest workouts with push ups. I do about 4 sets of 20 reps each. This gets the blood pumping and lets my body know what body part I will be working.
Exercise#1: Incline Dumbbell Press – 4 sets of 15, 12, 10, 8
Set the bench at a 30 degree angle. Start your first set with a weight you are comfortable doing 15 reps with and proceed to increase the weight by about 5 lbs after every set, i.e. if you start with 60 lb dumbbells for your set of 15, you will move on to 65 lb dumbbells for you set of 12 and so on.When doing pyramid sets you don’t want to max out on the first few sets. It may take some trial and error to figure out the right weight for you if you haven’t done pyramid sets before.
I have always preferred to do my pressing movements with dumbbells rather than a barbell. With a barbell I sometimes experience my dominant side doing more work. Using dumbbells is an isolation movement and therefore rids muscular imbalances over time. Also, I tend to feel a better contraction using dumbbells. That being said, feel free to replace this with barbell incline press if that is what you prefer.
Exercise#2: Incline Abduction Press – 4 sets of 10, drop set on last
I haven’t seen anyone do this at the gym before, but I personally think that this is the ULTIMATE exercise for the upper chest. You probably haven’t done this movement before so you will have to experiment to figure out the right weight for you. But do not max out on the first set because then you won’t be able to complete all 4 sets with the same weight. On your final set keep decreasing your dumbbell by 10 lbs until you actually get to the 10 lb dumbbell. You will feel an INSANE pump.
This is an exercise that not many people are aware of, so I have embedded an instructional video for you to understand the proper form. Really focus on the contraction for this movement and don’t worry about the weight.
Exercise#3: Reverse Grip Decline Press – 4 sets of 10
The decline bench press is meant to hit the lower part of your chest. Now you may be wondering about the reverse grip. Canadian scientists found that a reverse grip bench press stimulates about 30% more upper pec activity than the normal grip. With the reverse grip decline press you get the best of both worlds, you hit the lower chest and the upper chest. This is a great exercise that I only recently incorporated into my routine. The reverse grip may be uncomfortable for you at first so try a lower weight than usual. I highly suggest you do the reverse grip, the contraction you feel will be amazing.
Exercise#4: Cable Cross Overs – 4 sets of 12, drop set on last
At this point, the cable cross overs will add to your already EXTREME pump. Focus on good form and take your arms all the way back to really feel the stretch in your chest. Cable cross overs are great for expanding your chest. Weight doesn’t matter AT ALL for this exercise so don’t let your ego get in the way. Good form should be your only focus. On the last set drop all the way to the lightest weight
*Bonus: Chest Dips – 4 sets to failure
At this point your chest will be pretty worn out, but if you feel like you have it in you, this finisher will really add a final kick. You probably wont be able to do very many but do each set to failure. Just one point to mention is that you should focus on the chest variation for the dip. This means leaning in to the dip. I have embedded a video for you to understand the proper form.
Less Body Fat = More Definition
Look, no matter how much muscle you have, you will not be able to show it off without a low enough body fat. This workout routine will get you the muscle, but the extent of your definition will be largely dependent upon your body fat. Of course, the major determinant of body fat is nutrition. What worked for me in terms of diet was reverse taper protocol. You can give it a try, or you can try something else. But the main tip I can give you is to focus on the timing of carbs. Get them before your workout and directly after. Without the excess energy coming from carbs, your body will begin to use fat for fuel. Also, keep a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. This will allow you to stay full while in a caloric deficit.
You can also check out the critical bench program. It really takes things to the next level with the bench press.
(P.S. Discover the 7 biggest muscle building myths and mistakes that keep guys small, weak, and frustrated)
What it comes down to is how much work you are willing to put into this. What you put in is what you get out. It takes hard work, but every workout will get you one step closer to the body of your dreams. This is my best chest workout for definition, and it is focused mainly on bringing out the upper chest. You can’t have too much of an upper chest and most people walking around in the gym have too little of it. Try this routine out, see if it works for you and adjust it how you like.
What is your favorite chest exercise? Is it included in this routine? Let me know in the comments section below. I would love to answer any other questions that you have as well!