Upper Body Workout
Learn the basics to having a solid upper body workout plan
Upper body workouts are some of the most rewarding, as it can be easy to spot size or tone changes to your chest or arm muscles. There are so many upper body exercises that you can do, but many people fall into the habit of doing their favorite exercises over and over again. This leads to muscle memory and plateauing, neither of which will help you reach your fitness goal.
To keep your upper body workout fresh, it helps to establish a few routines, each targeting different muscle groups, and mix them up.
Creating an Upper Body Workout Routine
Personal trainers are the best people to help you create personalized routines, but take a look at a few general ideas to get your upper body workout started:
- Chest. Compound exercises (exercises that work multiple joint and muscle groups) such as bench presses and push-ups are great for your chest, with the bonus of also working your biceps and triceps. Isolated exercises (moves that work only one joint and muscle group) like pec flyes, dips and cable crossovers are important as well. Try to mix a couple of each of these exercises into a chest workout.
- Back. Many people overlook their back muscles in their upper body workout plan, but working out your back will provide balance to your chest muscles and will prevent your back from hunching over due to overdeveloped pecs. Compound exercises like rows or wide-grip pull-downs are a great way to pack a double-punch.
- Shoulders. Shoulder exercises are another often-overlooked muscle group. Shoulder presses, lateral raises and reverse cable flyes help build up your shoulder muscles, which not only makes you look broader and more toned, but can also help you improve your posture.
- Arms. Your arms workout should include attention to both your biceps and your triceps. Often, arm muscles get worked out with compound exercises from other categories, but if you want to do a few dedicated exercises, try cable or hammer curls for your biceps and dips or kickbacks for your triceps.
Changing Up Your Upper Body Workout Plan
Once you've established a few upper body workouts, it's important to know when to change them up. You should work the same plan for at least a couple of weeks to give your body enough time to adapt to the challenges of the workout. As a guideline, don't go over three weeks with the same workout, as your muscles will get too comfortable with the same exercises.
It's recommended that you give your muscles a day to rest between workouts, so make sure you don't target the same muscle groups on consecutive days. An easy way to ensure this doesn't happen is to keep your strength training workouts to two or three per week, doing a cardio workout or an abdominal workout on off-days.