Expert Tips for Training Your Upper Body

When we all set foot in the gym, be it at home or the actual gym, it’s with the aim to progress to a better state. We've all seen the overnight promise workouts, as well as our favorite actors and celebrities, show off their beach-ready bodies.

However, when it comes down to it, it's hard work that will win a sculpted body.

For most of us, we want to work on our upper body - abs, arms, and back. It's a lot to take in. However, there are a few expert tips, such as exercises that pack the most punch, to help train up the upper body quicker.

In all these exercises, you'll want to focus on resistance using body weight or actual weights. Beginning with body weight is perfect when you're starting out, but if you're consistent, you'll quickly find yourself in need of heavier weights such as bars, dumbbells, and racks.


Dead-lifting the barbell, variations on the pull-up and rows are all perfect for sculpting and building mass in the back. It's important to note that when using heavy weights to build this kind of mass, the correct form is imperative.

The heavier weights that deadlifts utilize can help push muscle groups in the right direction, while proper form ensures you won’t injure yourself trying to build the muscle. The different forms that deadlifts can be done in, such as a bent over lift or floor lift, are best pursued in a progression style that enables you to lift heavier weights in rapid succession.

Pull-ups will use your body weight, and both a wide grip and a close grip are recommended. The wide grip is best for building in the shoulder and outer back muscles, while the tight grip will work the inner back muscles.

Rows are a tried and true method for building back muscle and can be done in a variety of ways. You can use weights and do single rows on each side, utilize a rowing machine that mimics the hold style of a close pull-up without the strain of having to lift your entire body, or a different kind of rowing machine that simulates the action used when rowing a boat. This last one is best for a low strain but maximum result exercise.


Pushups and pull-ups are where to start, but after mastering these, its time to add some weight via adjustable dumbbells. Although using a bar can be helpful, it can limit the range of motion. Free weights such as the dumbbells allow you to have a greater range of motion, and train more muscle groups more evenly, leading to more balanced arm muscle growth.

Wide and close versions of both pull-ups and pushups have a place in every upper body circuit, even after you've moved on to incorporating heavier weights. They are perfect for warming up or cooling down and provide helpful posture reminders.


A strong core is useful for any circuit, whether it's upper or lower body. This will help provide stability for nearly all the other exercises you can perform when training and is a crucial upper body component.

Bicycle rows are one of the top practices to train the full length of the abs, as well as using weights when training up the sides. Weights aren't going to be featured much here, as the abs aren’t as dependent on resistance not provided by the body.

Utilizing low weight, such as that of a kettlebell, can help if you engage in twists to strengthen the abdominals, but this kind of work should only be done after accomplishing prior ab strengthening by planks knee raises. Avoiding situps is better for form, and going for reps of bicycles is best to achieve results. 

There are some sites dedicated to upper body training, such as Skinny Yoked. Exercises like the ones mentioned above and ones to add in are discussed, as well as the benefits of each. Sites like these can also focus on the individual areas discussed above if you need help in rounding out your workout circuit. As always, the form is imperative to gain the best results and train specific groups.

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