Best Exercises For Targeting Your Upper, Middle And Lower Chest

Getting stronger isn’t easy. And the chest can be one of the most difficult areas to target.

Not only that, but when working your upper body, you want your training to be as well-rounded as possible, in order to achieve a naturally strong and well-balanced look.

The main muscles that you want to concentrate on when working your chest are your pecs.

upper middle and lower chest highlighted on pectoralis major

The Pec Major is a fan-shaped muscle which starts near your armpit and then spreads out across into the middle of your chest.

And even though technically this is one muscle, we split it up into parts. This is because different exercises cause different areas of the muscle to work harder than others.

This is also why you don’t want to do just one type of exercise to build your chest muscles – because you’ll just be targeting one section of the whole muscle.

So, how do you make sure you’re hitting each part?

Below, we go through our top three exercises for hitting each part of your pecs, to help you build a strong chest.

In terms of equipment, you'll need a weight bench, along with a barbell and some weight plates.

How to work your upper chest

When we talk about the upper chest, we’re talking about the top part of your pecs. The muscles fibres around this area start near your armpit and then point upwards towards your clavicle. This means certain types of exercises emphasise this area more than others.

Incline bench presses are one of the best ways to target this area.

Incline bench press

Set up:

To make sure you target the top part of your chest, you want to set your bench to somewhere between 30 and 45 degrees.

Ensure your spotter bars are just above your chest height to make sure they will catch your Barbell should you fail.

Adjust your bench so that you’re looking straight up at your bar. Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Unrack the bar and bring it so it’s over your shoulders. Then bring the bar down to your upper chest while keeping your elbows tucked back and in.

Pro tip:

Maintaining a tight posture will really help you target the right area when doing this exercise. Arch your back and push your shoulders and glutes right back into your weight bench.

How to work your middle chest

Mirafit fitness expert doing a bench press on a squat rack

Working the middle part of your pecs is probably the easiest part of your chest to target. Mainly because it’s more about lifting at a 90-degree angle to your body than anything else. But that doesn’t mean you can slack on your form.

Perfecting the three main compound lifts – squat, deadlift and bench press – is key in terms of building strength and muscle. And flat bench presses don’t just work your chest, but they also target your shoulders and triceps, so they’re really worth doing.

Flat bench press

Set up:

When setting up to do flat bench presses, you want to make sure:

  • The safety bars are at the right height to catch your bar.
  • Your bench is adjusted so that the bar is directly above your eyes.
  • The bar is also centred on the rack properly.

Once again, posture is really important here. You want to make sure your back is arched and that your shoulders and glutes are pressed firmly into the bench. Your feet should be flat on the floor so that you can get better recruitment as you lift.

Unrack the bar and then bring it so that it’s above your shoulders. Lower the bar down towards the bottom of your chest. If you look at it from the side, the bar path is at a slight angle so you’re not lowering the bar straight down, you’re lowering it down and forwards slightly.

Another thing to watch out for is make sure you lower the bar all the way down to just above your chest – no half-repping!

Pro tip:

Keep your elbows back at a 45-degree angle away from your body as you press. This will help maintain full extension as you train as well as minimise any strain on your joints.

How to work your lower chest

Hitting the lower part of your chest can be tricky but there are a few specific exercises which will help you target this area.

Many people argue that dips are great for your lower chest – which they can be. However, to hit the lower chest you need a good amount of strength in the first place.

A reliable way of targeting the lower chest is by doing incline push ups.

Incline push up

Set up:

To perform this exercise properly, you want to make sure your body is at a 45 degree angle, with your feet on the floor.

Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle to your chest and your hands place comfortably on the Plyo Box or Weight Bench. Lower your body down until your chest almost touches the floor. Keep your body straight as you go down and don’t let your back arch or dip. Push back up and repeat.

Pro tip:

Wrap a Resistance Band around your back and it loop it over your hands as you do this exercise. It’s a great way to challenge yourself as well as build strength.

How to focus your chest workouts

Building a strong chest can take a little while, so don’t be put off if you don’t see results straight away.

Work to 80-85% of your one-rep max and work to find that balance where you can progressively load without making yourself ache too much to train the following week.

Looking to get kitted out? Find everything you need to do chest exercises and more, over in our weights and bars section.

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