If you’re looking to build your upper body strength, you’ll want to include upper body workouts to help maximize your strength training. These upper body exercises can be done from home and are great for beginners and seasoned pros. Check them out to get started today.
Benefits Of Building Upper Body Strength
There’s more to upper body muscles than looking good at the beach. A strong set of muscles from regular strength training may contribute to your overall health by:
- Helping support strong bones and muscles
- Supporting your metabolism
- Increasing calorie burn to help reduce body fat1
Promote Healthy Posture
Regular strength training may also help support good posture. Anybody who sits at a computer all day knows what it can do to your back. Counteract that computer slouch with some upper body exercise. This is important, because bad posture may reduce oxygen flow to your muscles and increase your chances of injury.2
Even people who focus more on cardio training, like running, may benefit from an upper body workout. Strong arms may help boost a runner’s speed and support balance.3 Also, upper body exercise helps support bone strength and burns extra calories.4
Different Types Of Upper Body Workouts
Your upper body contains a large number of muscles. You can try to integrate each one into your upper body workout — or focus on a specific muscle group each day.
Back muscles are crucial for a healthy and comprehensive muscular system. That’s because your back muscles are connected to your core (your abs), and they help stabilize your shoulders. You can’t have one without the other. Plus, your back muscles are important for helping you maintain straight, healthy posture.5
Shoulder muscles are sensitive and often challenging to target in a workout. These elusive muscles are important to isolate and exercise, though. They make lifting with your chest and back possible, so they can’t be ignored. Presses and shrugs that use weights are great for targeting these muscles.6
You may not see them when you look in the mirror, but your triceps make up nearly two-thirds of your upper-arm musculature system. Working on this area will help develop total strength in your whole arm.7
Biceps are relatively small muscles in the arm, but you use them often throughout the day. Anytime you pick something up, you use your biceps. So, it’s important to keep them in tip-top shape.8
Equipment You’ll Need
You can do lots of these upper body workouts with minimal equipment. However, to get the most of your routine, it helps to have essentials, such as:
- Weights and a barbell
- Pull up/chin up bar
- Adjustable weight bench (optional)
Try These Upper Body Workouts
These upper body exercises are great for men, women, beginners, or pros who want to improve their upper body strength. This training session can be done from the comfort of home and requires very few pieces of equipment. It’s time to put those muscles to work.
The push up is a classic exercise for building strength. It may look simple, but this strength training exercise requires an attention to detail to achieve maximum results.
- Start with a plank position, spine straight and glutes tight. Don’t bend your back.
- Lower your body until you form a 45-degree angle with your elbows.
- Push yourself all the way back up to the starting position. Repeat.9
Target areas: Chest and core
The pull up is another classic workout routine from the days of middle school gym. It’s a great substitute for weight lifting or for anyone who needs a low-impact day workout.
- Grab on to a chin up bar bar with an overhand grip. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Lift your legs, and let your body hang with fully extended arms.
- Pull yourself up until your chin reaches over the bar.
- Slowly lower yourself until your arms are extended again, and repeat.10
Target areas: Back, shoulders, and core
Diamond Press Up
This exercise is an amped-up version of the push up. It works the back, arms, and shoulders.
- Start in a traditional push up position, but touch your thumbs and index fingers together so they form a diamond shape.
- Make sure your spine forms a straight line, with your core braced.
- Lower yourself by bending your elbows toward the floor.
- Push back up through your hands, and repeat.11
Target areas: Chest and core
This is another great upper body workout that requires no equipment. The added challenge of high-low to this plank variation works to help support core strength.
- Start with a traditional plank position — hands under your shoulders and spine straight.
- Lower yourself down onto your left elbow, then onto your right. Hold briefly.
- Lift yourself back up onto your hands slowly. Repeat for 45 seconds.12
Target areas: Triceps and core
Bent Over Row
You don’t need a row machine to get a great upper body workout. You can activate all those upper body muscles with some dumbbells or a bar in this exercise.
- Position yourself with your torso parallel to the ground. Bend at the hips, and grab a bar or dumbbells.
- Lift (or “row”) the weight toward your neck by squeezing your shoulders together.
- Lower slowly, and repeat.13
Target areas: Back and shoulders
No weight training session could be complete without a classic curl exercise. Grab some dumbbells or a bar, and light up those biceps with this quick exercise.
- Stand and hold the barbell with an underhand grip, with your hands slightly outside of your hips.
- Raise your hands toward your chest in a smooth motion. Keep your elbows tight, arms bent, and your posture straight.
- Lift the bar to shoulder height with your biceps fully engaged.
- Slowly lower the bar, and repeat.14
Target areas: Biceps
This exercise targets shoulders and is easy to do at home. Take it easy at first, and slowly build up to more weight.
- Hold two dumbbells with your palms inward and weights at your sides.
- Slowly lift your shoulders as high as possible.
- Lower your shoulders back down slowly, and repeat.15
Target areas: Shoulders
Incline Dumbbell Press
You’ll need an incline bench to do this chest exercise. The angle increases the focus and intensity toward your chest for an optimal weight training set.
- Set an incline bench to 30 or 45 degrees.
- Hold a set of dumbbells while seated with your back on the bench. They should be directly above your shoulders.
- Push the dumbbells up by pulling your shoulder blades together. Stick your chest out slightly.
- Lower the dumbbells back to the shoulders, and repeat.16
Target areas: Chest and triceps
Tricep Dumbbell Kickback
It can be easy to forget about the triceps when you start in on dumbbell exercises. But these muscles are a major part of your overall upper body strength. Show them the love they deserve with this weight training exercise
- Lean forward with your knees bent and a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the dumbbells near your chest and keep your spine straight.
- Bend your arms back 90 degrees until your biceps are perpendicular with the floor. Try to only bend your elbows as you straighten your arms back.
- Pause in this position, arms straight, and then slowly lower the weight back toward the chest.17
Target areas: Triceps
When can I expect to see results from these upper body workouts?
Beginners may start to see results within a month. Of course, your results depend on a number of factors, such as intensity and frequency.18
Can I do upper body workouts every day?
For best results, it’s generally recommended that you do your strength training every other day. A day of rest allows for recovery and muscle development.19
The American Heart Association recommends doing strength training activities at least twice a week.20 As always, you’ll need to speak with your doctor about a plan that works best for you.
Should I warm up before an upper body workout?
Like other exercises, it’s important to warm up before an upper body workout. Try some range-of-motion movements, like side bends. Get those joints ready too with arm circles or forearm rotations.21
Upper Body Workout For Total Health
A strong upper body can make you look and feel great. With just a small bit of time and some targeted weight training sessions, you can begin to make serious changes to your upper body muscles from home. These changes are good for healthy posture, bone strength, and weight management. Your reflection in the mirror will thank you, too. Take some time to get started today. Just remember to first get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.
Core Workouts For Men: Get The Perfect Abs
Upper Body Workout For Women
Upper Body Dumbbell Workout And Exercises To Consider