9 Great Upper Body Exercises

9 Great Upper Body Exercises

Did you know there are roughly 600 muscles in your body? I know that seems like a lot ... and that's because it is a lot! It makes you wonder, how can you ever work out all these muscles?

Well, this is why having a balanced and planned approach is a major key.

Most of the muscles in your body are found in groups. That means they combine to make up a certain area/part of the body when it comes to the muscular system.

For example, think about your upper arm. It's made up of the bicep and tricep, right? Well your "Bi"ceps each have 2 muscles and your "Tri"ceps each have 3 muscles.

Since there are so many different muscle groups, and muscles within those muscle groups ... most weight lifters will follow a specific training "split." This just means they split their workout days between different muscle groups. This allows them to work out every muscle group in their body over the course of a week or a few days ... depending on what their split is.

Now, one of the easiest ways to split up your body would be directly in half ... dividing it into an upper and lower half.

That way, you alternate between 2 workout days, one for your upper body ... and one for your lower body.

...and since you came here to learn some good workouts for the upper body ... let's talk about it!

I'll run you through 9 of my favorite upper body exercises that you can try out for your next upper body workout!

That way, you'll know you hit the muscle groups in your upper body effectively to help you see the best results possible.

So let's dive in...

My Top 9 Favorite Upper Body Exercises

Let's have a quick talk about which muscles we need to train in your upper body ... or muscle groups that is. If we were to go through each individual muscle, it would take forever.

Instead, let's touch on the major groups we need to strengthen.

Here are the major muscle groups we'll be focused on for your upper body workouts:

• Chest
• Shoulders
• Biceps
• Triceps
• Forearms
• Back (Lats, Trapezius, Lower Back)
Core (Abdominal Muscles)

I'll make sure to cover which exercises are targeting which muscle groups. That way, you can always sub out exercises for specific muscle groups if you want to switch it up.

1. Barbell Bench Press

Muscles Used: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

Ah ... the classic "bro" lift. Are we surprised that this is one of my favorites? In all seriousness, this is a great exercise for building muscle and strength in your upper body. For this exercise, you'll need a barbell and a bench.

How To: Start by loading a barbell on the bench with a weight you can comfortably push with your chest. Lay with your back on the bench, and your feet planted flat on the ground.

Keep a slight arch in your lower back and dig your traps into the bench. Reach out to grab the bar slightly outside of shoulder-width apart. Exhale to push the bar off the rack and position it directly above your chest. Inhale as you slowly draw the bar toward your lower chest. Your elbows should flare 45 degrees out to either side as the bar travels down to meet your body directly underneath your chest (where your upper abdomen starts).

Exhale and squeeze your chest to push the weight back over your chest. This is one rep.

2. Single-Arm Lat Pulldowns

Muscle Used: Biceps, Lats, Forearms

This is a great exercise for your lats. They are also great for building a solid mind-to-muscle connection. For this exercise, you'll need a lat pulldown machine and a single handle attachment.

How To: First, you need to attach the single handle attachment(s). Adjust the seat to the cable machine and thigh pad so you fit snugly in the machine.

From here, reach up to grab the single handle attachment with your right arm. Pull the handle toward your right armpit, controlling the weight the whole time. You should feel a squeeze in your right lat when you've pulled the handle as close to your armpit as you can.

Next, slowly release your right arm back overhead to complete one rep. Do this for a set number of reps before switching to your left side to repeat.

3. Bent Over Rows

Muscles Used: Back, Biceps, Forearms, Core

If you're looking for a great exercise to build the muscles in your back ... look no further. This is a staple in my upper body routine, and for good reason!

How To: Grab a loaded barbell and place it by your feet on the ground in front of you. Place your feet at roughly shoulder-width and keep a slight bend in your knees. Hinge forward at your hips to reach down and grab the barbell, gripping it slightly outside shoulder-width apart.

Keep your back straight and neck and head in-line with your spine as you exhale and pull the bar toward your upper abdomen. When your elbows draw behind your back and the bar hits your abdomen, squeeze for a second, then slowly extend your arms to bring the barbell back to the ground. Instead of placing it back on the floor, keep the bar suspended in the air until you finish all of your reps.

4. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Muscles Used: Shoulders, Upper Chest, Triceps

If you want some big and round shoulders, this is the exercise for you! All you'll need is a bench and a pair of dumbbells.

How To: Start by finding a bench and a pair of dumbbells. The bench can be flat or have back support ... up to you, but without back support, this will be more challenging. Grab a dumbbell in each of your hands, resting them on your thighs.

Use your thighs to help push the dumbbells to either side of your head. Your elbows should be rotated outward and palms facing forward. This is the starting position.

From here, press the dumbbells from either side of your head to directly overhead. Then, slowly lower the dumbbells to either side of your head for one rep.

Repeat this for reps, making sure to maintain good control of the dumbbells the entire time.

5. Single-Arm Cable Lateral Raises

Muscles Used: Lateral Delt

This is a great exercise for targeting your lateral delts, or you may also know them better as the outside-middle part of your shoulders.

How To: Get started by finding a cable machine and putting it at the lowest height setting. Attach a single handle attachment to the cable and stand directly to the side of the machine.

With your opposite arm, reach down and in front of your body to grab the handle. Pull the handle out and to the side until your arm reaches shoulder level. Hold the cable at shoulder level for a second before slowly releasing the cable to its starting position. Repeat this for reps before switching to your other side to repeat.

6. Cable Face Pulls

Muscles Used: Rear Delts, Rhomboids, Mid Trap

This is a great exercise to help correct upper body postural issues ... If you sit at a desk all day, I strongly encourage these!

How To: Start by locating a cable machine and a dual handle rope attachment. Set the height of the cable to eye-level and attach the rope. Bend your knees slightly and get into an athletic position with your body facing the cable.

Grab the rope with both hands and raise your arms to eye level. Slowly pull the rope towards your eyes, bringing each handle to either side of your face. Your elbows should draw behind you as you feel a squeeze in your upper back.

Hold here for a second before slowly releasing your arms back out in front of you. This is one rep.

7. Preacher Curl

Muscles Used: Biceps, Forearms

This is a killer workout for your biceps. If you want bigger arms, add this one to your next upper body workout! You can choose to do this on a machine or with an EZ bar.

How To: Find a preacher curl bench and EZ bar or a preacher curl machine. Position your armpits on the top of the pad and allow your upper arms to rest on the pad.

With an underhand grip, grab the bar or handles and squeeze your biceps to draw the weight toward your chin. Hold for a second at the top of the movement before slowly releasing your biceps to lower the weight.

The more you can focus on slow, controlled movements here ... the more this one will burn and benefit you!

8. Tricep Pushdowns

Muscles Used: Triceps

This is definitely my favorite tricep exercise to do in the gym. I know you'll love it too. All you need is a cable machine and dual handle rope attachment.

How To: Set the cable machine to the highest height setting and connect the dual handle rope attachment. From here, reach up to grab the rope.

Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at your hips slightly. Tuck your elbows and upper arms at either side of your body and keep them locked there.

Next, squeeze your triceps to straighten out your elbows, pulling the rope down to either side of your body. Hold the rope here for a second before slowly releasing your forearms to their original position.

9. Plank

Muscles Used: Core

I'm sure you already have a good idea of how to do a plank. It's a classic exercise. If you haven't heard of them before though, don't worry! I'll explain.

Planks are great for working your core, specifically your transverse abdominis. This muscle helps with bracing and core stabilization.

How To: Lay on the floor as if you're about to do a push-up. Push your hips off the ground by getting up on your forearms and toes. Make sure to keep your core tight, spine neutral, and head and neck in-line.

Hold this position as long as you possibly can, or for a set amount of time, before resting briefly, then starting another set!

Putting It All Together

Add these upper body exercises to your routine and let us know how it goes!

After all, we're here to help ... and nothing gets us more excited than seeing other people reach their health and fitness goals.

Now, obviously you don't have to alternate between upper body workouts and lower body workouts. There are a lot of different ways to split up your workout days.

If you need help finding a routine that works best for you ... or need any more information, workout advice, exercises, and even full training programs ... download the 1st Phorm App.

Not only does the app give you access to all those resources for your workouts, but you'll also get...

• Nutrition/macro tracking
• A custom nutrition plan for your goals
• 1-on-1 messaging with your own NASM certified advisor
• Progress tracking and body metrics
• A chance to enter and win $25,000 in our Transformation Challenges
• Daily educational content and livestreams

No matter what your goal is ... we're here to help you reach it. You can connect with us anytime you need help by emailing us at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or by giving us a call at 1-800-409-9732.

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