Whether you want to tone up those sagging triceps, firm up your back muscles or develop shapely shoulders, working your upper body three times a week can help you develop the upper body you have always dreamed of. Choose one or two exercises for your back, chest, shoulders and arms and work your upper body on on alternating days.
Before you start your workout, spend a few minutes warming up by performing some light cardio and dynamic stretches. Do one or two light sets of the exercises you are going to be doing in your workout to further warmup and also have an opportunity to practice each lift. If you work out with free weights, have a spotter on hand to help you in case you are unable to complete a repetition on your own due to fatigue. Do two to four sets of 12 to 20 repetitions of your chosen exercises using a weight that makes the last couple of reps difficult but still completable in good form.
As your back is the largest group of muscles in your upper body, it makes sense to train these muscles first when your energy levels are at their highest. Back exercises are generally pulling exercises and, as such, also involve your biceps. Design your back-building workouts around chinups, pullups, seated and bent-over rows, deadlifts, lat pulldowns, single-arm rows, dumbbell pullovers and shrugs.
The bench press is probably the most well-known chest exercise and one that many exercisers, especially men, put a lot of emphasis on. While the bench press is a good exercise, it is one of many that will help tone and shape your chest muscles. Build your chest workouts around pushups, dips, barbell and dumbbell bench presses, decline and incline barbell and dumbbell bench presses, dumbbell flyes, cable crossovers and machine chest presses.
Your shoulders have had a good, if indirect, workout from the back and chest exercises you have already completed. Subsequently, you don't need to do a whole lot of additional shoulder work. Overhead barbell and dumbbell presses, side lateral raises with dumbbells or cables and reverse cable flyes are all good shoulder-building exercises.
For every biceps exercise, perform a triceps exercise to ensure both arm muscles receive equal attention. For your biceps workout, select from barbell and dumbbell curls, concentration curls, preacher curls, cable curls, reverse curls or hammer curls. For your triceps, select from cable pushdowns and dumbbell triceps kickbacks. Working your biceps and triceps equally will help you develop firm, shapely arms.
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.