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The Best Upper Body Workout To Build Strength

 To really build strength and see results in your upper body, having an effective workout is key. The best upper body workouts combine mobility exercises with dynamic, strength-building movements so you can gain muscle mass and increase range of motion. With a mobility warm-up and a simple yet effective set of compound exercises, this is the best upper body workout to build strength and improve the overall function of your chest, arms, shoulders, and back. 

How To Perform This Workout

There are a few things to note before doing this upper body workout. You have to understand your body, its strengths and weaknesses, and how to fuel it properly. It is important to incorporate this upper body workout into a consistent fitness routine, and pair it with a nutritious diet and a solid recovery plan. 

Make Sure You Are Energized

Everyone has different lifestyles and habits for working out. So regardless of what time of day you choose to workout, or how much you choose to eat before a workout, just ensure that you have good energy levels to complete these exercises. If you are too tired or too hungry to really give this upper body workout a strong effort, you won’t see the results you are looking for. 

Hydrate

It is also very important to stay hydrated before, during, and after a hard workout. Dehydration can cause you to feel overheated or fatigued, both of which can lead to a decrease in performance and possible injury or sickness. 

Use The Right Weight For You

This amazing upper body workout is meant to suit anyone, so weights will not be specified. That means you have to know your body well and pick the right weights for your current fitness level.

A good piece of advice is to start with a lower weight than you think you need. If you can complete all the reps with ease, increase the weight. You should pick weights that make the exercise challenging, but possible. On the last 2 or 3 reps, you should really be struggling. That means you are putting enough stress on the muscles to encourage growth, but you’re not burning them out too quickly. 

The Upper Body Workout

With all those disclaimers aside, here is the best upper body workout to build strength. It is composed of a few mobility movements to warm up, followed by 5 exercises to build upper body strength and power. 

This workout will focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once. By performing fewer exercises that target lots of different muscles, you can increase the effectiveness of the workout and build more muscle in less time. Isolated muscle movements, like bicep curls or chest flys, only build strength in one specific muscle group. Compound exercises are the best for overall upper body strength. 

Warm-Up Mobility Movements

Jumping Jacks

20 Reps – Get the heart rate up and warm up the entire body.

Joint Rotations

8 Reps for each joint – Slowly rotate all of the joints in your upper body in both directions, starting with the wrists, then the elbows, then the shoulders, then the neck.

Push-Ups

3 sets of 20 reps – Warm up the pecs, shoulders, and triceps. If 20 reps don’t instigate a little bit of a burn, do a few more. 

Plank

Hold for 1 minute – Build heat and engage the core.

 

Compound Upper Body Exercises

For equipment, you’ll need an adjustable weight-lifting bench, a barbell with the correct weights for you, and a pull-up machine with dip bars. You can adjust sets and reps to increase or decrease intensity if needed. 

Exercise #1: Incline Bench Press

3 sets of 10-12 reps

Make sure the barbell is at a comfortable height for you and set the bench incline at 30-45 degrees. Grip the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width, and lower the barbell slowly to your chest. Press the barbell up strong and with control before returning to the starting position. This exercise builds muscle in the pecs, the anterior delts, and the triceps. 

Exercise #2: Bent Over Row

3 sets of 10-12 reps

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend the knees slightly, bend at the waist until your back is at a 45-degree angle. Grip the barbell with palms facing down and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar towards your chest, and then lower with control. This exercise works the lats, biceps, and forearms, and even your glutes and core. 

Exercise #3: Overhead Press

3 sets of 10-12 reps

You can choose to either remain standing to engage your legs and core more or return to the bench and set the incline to 90 degrees. Grip the barbell at shoulder height with palms facing out, and press it up to the sky with control before lowering back down. This exercise builds muscle in the shoulders, triceps, and traps. 

Exercise #4: Pull-Ups

3 sets of 20 reps

Grab the pull up bar with palms down and hang straight. Pull up until your chin reaches the bar, and lower back down slowly. Pull-ups are great for building strength in many of the upper body muscles, including the lats, traps, biceps, and triceps. They also improve grip strength and core strength. For an extra challenge, you can attach a weight to your waist using a belt. 

Exercise #5: Dips

3 sets of 20 reps

Grab the lower bars on the pull-up machine and straighten your arms so your feet are hanging and you’re holding yourself up. Slowly bend at the elbows until they form a 90-degree angle while leaning the torso forward, then return to start. Dips focus on building strength in the triceps, shoulders, and pecs. 

Workout Recovery 

After completing this upper body workout, make sure you stretch and hydrate properly. Eat plenty of protein to support muscle growth, and try to get a full 8 hours of sleep so your body has time to rest and recover.

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