As a personal trainer, one of the most common goals
my clients have is upper body strength. Lots of it! Whether it’s all about the looks or overall strength, it’s a common request. Over the years, I’ve developed some great techniques for building upper body strength. The following workouts are great for both men and women looking for more power up top.
Before we dive in, remember to start small. We’re looking to perfect the technique before we add too much weight. Lots of weight and poor technique isn’t just useless, it’s dangerous! So, follow me, and let’s work out safely.
- Incline bench press - The bench press is all about working those chest muscles. It’s one of the best body training ideas out there. Guys, it’s going to build your pectorals in a strong and powerful way. The reason why I personally recommend the incline option is that you get an extra boost in your triceps and shoulders. It’s the perfect all-rounder. Start with the bench at a 30-45 degree incline. Grab the bar just wider than the shoulders, and push up to your starting point. Lock it out comfortably, then bring it down slowly to the chest. Breathe in as you come down, out as you go up.
- Dip - The dip is going to work your entire upper body, and your core. It strengthens abs, shoulders, and your arms all at once. This is a killer strength exercise, and it will take some time to get it right! You’ll need parallel bars (or you can set it up using the bench press bars). From a standing start, put all your weight on your arms, and dip down. When your arms are at 90 degrees with the bar, push back up. Repeat!
- Pull up bar - The pull up bar is one of my favourite workouts for the back. It gives you those strong ripples of muscle on your back. Grip the bar with your palms facing away from you. Lower yourself into a hanging position, then pull yourself up slowly until your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself gently back to the starting position. Try to lock out completely to a full hang. If you don’t, you’re not using your full back muscles, and your arms kick in. This is poor form.
- Dumbbell lateral raise - This is another one for the back (working the lateral muscles). It requires a mixture of explosive power and slow control. It’s tricky to get right, so try working it with a friend or spotter first. Start small, and grab two dumbbells, one in each hand. Hold them down by your side; this is your starting point. Now, using a controlled burst of energy, raise them both 90 degrees, so you’re holding your arms wide apart. Control the movement as you bring the dumbbell back down to your sides to the start point. Do this as many times as you can. This one is exhausting, so be careful!
That’s all for now, folks. Get started on these exercises, and remember to focus on form, control, and technique. Then you can start pushing up the weights.