Think about how often you use your upper body to perform everyday activities such as reaching, pulling, pushing and lifting. The activities that you perform daily would be limited by an inability to perform those functions.
Think about carrying a baby, lifting grocery bags, and reaching for something in a kitchen cabinet or on a shelf in the top of your closet and how much easier these activities are/would be with a strong upper body. Or, if you have a job that requires a lot of time sitting at a computer and the muscles in action to help you sit up straight, comfortably and lessening some of the negative affects of sitting for extended periods of time.
For the next few weeks Jen and I will delve into the how-to, tips and workouts for upper body strength training to have you not only beach body ready, but also feeling strong, confident and daily life ready.
Benefits of Upper Body Strength Training
- Improves posture while sitting and standing.
- Improves posture and form for physical activities.
- Reduces the risk of injuries.
- Improves speed, balance and strength which are generated through the muscles of the upper body.
- Improves flexibility.
- Building and strengthening the large muscles increases muscle tissue in the body which will help burn more fat.
- A healthy and fit appearance.
- Balances the major muscle groups.
- Helps prevent and relieve upper back, neck and shoulder pain.
Major Upper Body Muscle Groups
Upper body strength training exercises target five major parts of the upper body; chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps and the back.
Pectorals major (Chest) – Large fan shaped muscle that covers the front of the upper chest.
Rhomboids (Mid-Upper Back) – Muscles in the middle of the upper back between the shoulder blades.
Trapezius (Upper Back) – Upper portion of the back, sometimes referred to as ‘traps.’ The upper trapezius is the muscle running from the back of the neck to the shoulder.
Latissimus dorsi (Middle Back) Large muscles of the mid-back. When properly trained they give the back a nice V shape, making the waist appear smaller.
Deltoids (Shoulders) The cap of the shoulder. This muscle has three parts, anterior deltoid (the front), medial deltoid (the middle), and posterior deltoid (the rear).
Biceps – The front of the upper arm.
Triceps – The back of the upper arm.
This workout will sculpt and strengthen biceps, triceps and shoulders.
Do this quick upper body workout 2 days a week, leaving a rest day in between. Do the prescribed number of reps for each exercise, choosing a weight that you can barely complete the last rep of your final set with good form.
Right click the image above to save the workout to your mobile device or download the workout to print.
- mat (optional)
- Brace your core.
- Use proper body alignment and good form.
- Reps and rest periods should be based on your fitness level.
- Modify as needed to meet your fitness level by increasing/decreasing reps, weight and sets.
- Gradually increase intensity based on your progress.
Don’t forget to warm up before your workout: Learn more…
It’s important to cool down after your workout: Learn more…
I am a certified personal trainer, but this workout was not created for your specific fitness level and needs. Make modifications as needed. Intensity and rest periods should be based on your individual fitness level. See your physician before beginning any exercise program. This web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician.
Tricep Dip (1) Stand with your back to a bench or chair. Bend your legs and place your palm on the front edge of the bench. (2) Position your feet in front of you so that most of your body width is resting on your arms. (3) Keeping your elbows tuck along side your sides, bend your arms and slowly lower your body until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. (4) Your hips drop straight down toward the ground. (5) Hold for a beat, then exhale and straighten your arms back up to the starting position. Be careful not to lower your body too far. Do not lean forward or away from the bench. Targets: triceps
Bicep Curl (1) Holding dumbbells in both hands palms facing inward, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. (2) Rotate the palms facing outward and lift the weights toward your shoulders (flexing elbows), in one fluid continuous movement reverse the motion, bring the weight down to fully extend the elbows, bringing the arms to the starting position. Targets: biceps
Upright Row (1) Stand with a slight bend in the knees, feet hip width apart. Place a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body. (2) Keeping the dumbbells close to your body, raise them to your shoulders, bending your elbows out to the sides. Pause. (3) Slowly lower them to the starting position. Targets: deltoids
Tricep Kickback (1) Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. (2) Bend over at the waist so your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Bend both elbows so that your upper arm is locked at your side and parallel to the floor. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor. (3) Keeping your upper arm still, straighten your arms behind you until the end of the dumbbell is pointing toward the floor with your palms facing in toward your body. Hold for a beat and inhale, slowly lowering your arms back to the start position. Repeat. Keep your abs tight and your back flat. Do not let your upper arm move during the entire exercise. Targets: triceps
Shoulder Press (1) Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand just outside of your shoulders, with your arms bent and your palms facing each other. (2) Set your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. (3) Keeping your core braced press the weights upward directly over your shoulders until your arms are completely straight and elbows locked. (4) Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Targets: front deltoids, middle deltoids, triceps
Hammer Curl (1) Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms at your sides. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let them hang at arms length next to your sides. (2) Turn your arms so that your palms face inward, toward each other. (3) Exhale, and without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. (4) Pause, focusing on squeezing your biceps. (5) Inhale, then slowly lower your arms to start position completely straightening your arms down by your sides. Remember: Stand up straight, shoulders back, and use slow and controlled movements. Be careful not to swing the weights. Targets: biceps
For more upper body strength, you might also like: Short Sleeve and Tank Top Upper Body Workout
I would love to chat:
Do you prefer to strength train upper or lower body? What is your favorite upper body exercise?
Let me know if you have any questions about the workout or if you have a specific fitness related topic you’d like to know more about.
Check out Inspired To Be Fit every Monday in the month of May for a total of 10 free workouts and information on equipment, exercises and progressions to build and strengthen the upper body.
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