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How do I get upper-chest mass?

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Q: I need more upper-chest mass. I’ve tried barbell and dumbbell incline presses. Do you think incline flyes work better than those movements for some people? I’m thinking about using more incline flyes.

A: Are you using full Positions-of-Flexion for your upper chest—an exercise each for the midrange, stretch and contracted positions? It will give you more complete stimulation with ultimate muscle fiber activation. For example:

Midrange: Incline dumbbell presses (4X) 4 x 10
Stretch: Incline flyes (heavy) 2 x 10
Contracted: High cable flyes (4X) 4 x 10

Note that I recommend the moderate-weight 4X mass method on the first and last exercises but call for two heavier sets on the stretch-position move. That can be a good size-building strategy when you’re specializing because you get stretch overload. Keep in mind that an animal study triggered a 300 percent muscle mass increase after only one month of stretch-overload workouts—so it’s a major get-bigger trigger.

If you don’t have time for the three-exercise routine listed above, try this:

Midrange: Incline dumbbell presses (4X) 4 x 10
Stretch & Contracted: High cable or
machine flyes (4x) 4 x 10

It takes less time—about 10 minutes—but you still get full-on POF. In the first routine you break out a stretch-position move and a contracted-position exercise—incline flyes and high cable flyes. In the second routine you still get full-range mass-building benefits, but you combine those two positions with high cable flyes. (You could also use machine flyes or pec deck flyes performed with your arms high on the pads.)

One other thing you can try is to alter your hand position on incline dumbbell presses. Vince Gironda, famed Iron Guru and trainer of the first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, always preached the palms-facing form for upper-pec emphasis. In other words, press with your hands in a flye position.

EMG studies have shown that an under grip on bench pressing exercises can more strongly involve the upper-pec fibers, so try that as well.

Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on the POF DVD and Size Surge programs, see the ad sections in this issue. Also visit and for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM

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