You’re here because you want to grow your upper body. Maybe you haven’t trained much before, so you’re unsure of the best exercises for your goals. Or maybe you’ve been training for some time, but the upper body workout you’ve been doing isn’t working for you.
We understand. We’ve been there too. Muscle growth can be difficult if you haven’t got the basics right, and in this article, we’re going to go through our Upper Body Workout For Huge Growth.
Before we get into our Upper Body Workout, let’s talk about strength training. Regardless of whether you’re trying to gain muscle, lose weight, or work on your general fitness, it’s important to incorporate some form of strength training into your workouts.
Let’s go into more detail…
Why do you need to strength train?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of strength training are:
- Preserve and enhance your muscle mass
- Develop strong bones
- Manage your weight
- Enhance your quality of life
- Manage chronic conditions
- Sharpen your thinking skills
There are more benefits than these. Plenty more. But, isn’t this enough to get started right now?
Exactly what we were thinking.
One common mistake that people make when they’re trying to lose weight is focusing their entire workouts around cardio. This is also common for beginners to the gym, and elderly people. If you love cardio, great! Continue it. We wouldn’t want to stop you.
But… make sure you get 1 or 2 weight training sessions in per week, too. As you saw above, the benefits are endless. We’re not saying it has to be as intense as this workout below. Our Ultimate Gym Workout for Beginners is a good place to start.
Ok. It’s about time we got into the actual workout. That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?
What is Sports Samurai’s Upper Body Workout?
This Upper Body Workout is designed for the huge growth that you deserve. You’ll see why shortly. But, before we get into it, remember…
Pro Tip: Combine this Upper Body Workout with a Lower Body Workout for optimal results. Don’t ignore training legs, lower back, and your core region.
With this workout, perform each of the following 6 exercises for between 2 and 4 sets each. Then do between 6 and 12 repetitions on each exercise. If you’re just starting off in the gym, 2 sets may be enough. If you’re more experienced, you may want to aim for 4.
Before you start, make sure you warm-up and do some dynamic stretching. For this workout, upper body dynamic stretches are a good idea. After all, we’re exercising the upper body.
Once you’re able to do 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions on any exercise, increase the weight. It’s that simple.
Don’t increase the weight before you get to this stage. Leave your ego at home. Correct form is key. We’ve given detailed videos on each exercise for a reason. Watch them. These are from some of our favourite names in the fitness industry all across the world. Follow them.
First up: the king of back exercises. If you want a wide back, this is the must-do exercise.
The reason we’ve put this exercise first is that it’s difficult to do. We’re not saying the workout is going to get easier as we go along, but this exercise is one that many people find difficult.
Before you ask… pull ups are a better exercise than lat pulldowns. You’ll see more here, although lat pulldowns are still a good alternative if you want to start with them instead. We’d recommend starting with pull ups as soon as you can.
You may be thinking: “I wish I could do a pull up!” Don’t worry – Sports Samurai has you covered.
Some gyms have assisted pull up machines. If your gym has this machine, use it. It’s a great way to get started, and you can slowly reduce the resistance until you’re able to do pull ups without any resistance at all.
If not, negative pull ups are key. Watch the video for more on how to do these!
Once you’re able to do 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps of pull ups, the key is not to add more reps. Instead, it’s time to add some weight to your pull ups. You can either place a dumbbell between your legs. Or, it may be worth buying a dipping belt with a chain. These can also be used for dips (listed below).
Barbell Bench Press
What Upper Body Workout is complete without the bench press? We know the bench press has got a bad rep due to it being the ultimate bro exercise. But it’s one of, if not the, best workout for a big chest.
The video below goes into a lot of detail around form and considerations around it. Trust us, there’s more to think about then laying on the bench and getting started. Watch it.
We don’t want to complicate this Upper Body Workout. But, it may be a good idea to alternate between the flat bench and incline bench every workout, especially when you become more advanced in the gym. Both have their benefits.
Again, once you’re able to do 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps, add more weight. Soon, you’ll be benching more than the bros who bench 5 times per week…
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Next, is an exercise for the shoulders. It was a tough choice between this exercise or a standing military press. We love them both. But, we also like to vary between barbells and dumbbells, which is why we went for the dumbbell version (as the bench press in the previous exercise was barbell based).
There’s less to think about when doing a dumbbell shoulder press, so we won’t go into too much detail on this one. Just remember to sit back on the seat, and keep vertical.
Increase the weight once you get to the desired set and rep range. It’s that simple.
Next comes: dips. Dips are a great exercise for targetting the chest and the triceps.
Watch this video on how not to do a bench press… trust us, it’s worth a watch. Oh yeah, it also gives you incredible advice on why dips are important, and how to do them with correct form.
Pro Tip: When doing dips, go down to parallel (or slightly below if possible), Keep your chest up at all times.
Once you’re able to do 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps, the dips belt that you purchased earlier comes into play. Add some weight to this, and keep getting stronger at this exercise – it’s an incredible exercise for muscle growth. There’s a reason why it’s been included in our Upper Body Workout for Huge Growth.
We’ve just performed 4 tough exercises. And if you’re doing 3 or 4 sets on each, and a warm-up, you may have been in the gym for 45 minutes or more already. You’re starting to get tired.
Pro Tip: Resting is just as important as working out. Ignoring signals from your body to rest could lead to injury. Take a break when needed but be smart about it.
At Sports Samurai, we like to include some machine work towards the latter part of our workouts. We also like to super-set exercises, so you could super-set this with our sixth exercise (to follow).
For the back, we recommend two exercises, as it’s a big muscle group. We’ve done some vertical work with the pull ups, so now we’re moving on to a horizontal movement.
When doing seated rows, ensure that you have a full range of motion, and sit up tall. For machine or accessory work (such as this), we usually go to the higher end of the 6 to 12 repetition zone we recommended above.
The final exercise in this Upper Body Workout is lateral raises. You can either do these with dumbbells (which we prefer), weight plates or using the cable machine.
The reason why we love lateral raises is that they can give you the look of broader, stronger shoulders.
With this exercise, use a lighter weight than you think, keep your head up, and don’t swing. Focus on the mind-muscle connection for muscle growth with the final exercise of our Upper Body Workout.
Sports Samurai has the highest quality gym bags and backpacks…
Why is this Upper Body Workout designed for muscle growth?
We know what you’re thinking. There are thousands of Upper Body Workouts out there (if not more!).
Why is this one better than the rest?
Firstly, we’d like to point out that other Upper Body Workouts may be just as effective, and can also get you looking like this…
If that’s what you want, of course.
We’d also like to point out that muscle growth depends on a number of things. Resistance training is important. But another important factor, if not more important, is your nutrition. You also need to get enough protein. It doesn’t matter what workout you do if you’re not eating the right food, and eating towards your goals.
The reason why this particular Upper Body Workout is designed for huge growth is simple:
- It focuses on compound movements
- It will work out each muscle groups multiple times per week
- There’s no time wasted on isolation movements
Let’s go through each one in detail.
What are compound movements, and why do we need them for muscle growth?
Compound movements are multi-joint movements that work several muscle groups at one time. The opposite, isolation movements, only workout one muscle group at a time.
Compound movements generally burn more calories, which is great for weight loss. If your goal isn’t weight loss, don’t worry. They’re also great for building strength.
They usually mimic real-life activities, such as picking something up from the floor. And, they usually mean a shorter, but more intense workout. Great for saving time, but still getting the results you want!
Now that you understand the benefits of compound movements, you’re probably asking: But isn’t it better to train one muscle group per session, instead of working muscle groups multiple times per week?
Why work muscle groups multiple times per week?
The simple answer is, no. It isn’t. Training one muscle group per week can have its benefits, like when striving for competition symmetry. But unless you’ve been training for a few years, we don’t believe it’s efficient to train this way. To add, even if you have been training for a few years, it might not be optimal. We’re just saying it could work.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing in this Upper Body Workout.
Why do we not need isolation movements?
“Hey, Sports Samurai. I want bigger biceps, so why are you not giving me 10 sets of biceps curls to do in this workout?!”
Hold on before you get your knickers in a twist.
You’ll work your arms indirectly in all of the exercises in this Upper Body Workout. Your arms will grow. Trust us. Once you get stronger with all of the above exercises, you’ll have the biceps you’ve always dreamt of. Have faith.
Note: This last point depends on the length of time you’ve been training. If you’re an intermediate lifter, you may want to start doing some isolation work. But until then, don’t bother.
How often should you do this Upper Body Workout per week?
This is a good question, The answer is: it depends.
On the number of times, you’re able to get to the gym in a week.
If you go to the gym 3 times per week, it makes sense to do this workout 1 or 2 times per week. The remaining session(s) each week would be a mixture of lower body workouts and cardio.
If you go to the gym 4 times per week, doing this workout 2 times a week, and a lower body workout (and cardio) the other two days a week makes sense.
If you go to the gym 5 or more than a times a week, you may want to do some form of upper body workout 2 or 3 times a week. Or you may want to do a split where you do 2 upper body workouts, 2 lower body workouts, and one day of cardio.
Pro Tip: These are just guidelines. Judge the frequency that you do this Upper Body Workout by your experience levels, and by the areas you want to improve the most. Make sure you don’t completely ignore lower body and cardio though… that’s all we ask.
Should you do this Upper Body workout if you’re a beginner?
Hmm. It’s a difficult one. What’s the definition of a beginner?
If you’ve never exercised before (or it’s been a significant length of time, at least!), our gym workout for beginners could be a better option for you, rather than the above workout.
The reason is simple: this upper body workout focuses on free weights and bodyweight exercises, which is something a total beginner may struggle with. We at Sports Samurai want to set you up for success!
That being said, we know how difficult it is for men to go to the gym and do machines (which is what our gym workout for beginners focuses on). Something about us doesn’t want to do this. We get it.
If this is you, and the thought of going to the gym and doing machines only makes you cringe, you could try this Upper Body Workout. Even if you’re a beginner.
We wouldn’t recommend it, but the choice is yours. Or… you could do a combination of the two – incorporate some of the machine work from our beginner’s workout, and some exercises from this Upper Body Workout. Again, the choice is yours.
For example, replace pull ups from this workout with lat pulldowns from the workout for beginners. Or replace dips with another chest exercise, such as dumbbell chest presses, or a tricep exercise. The world is your oyster.
How can you do an Upper Body Workout if you can’t get to a gym?
The above assumes that you’re exercising in the gym. With the rise in low-cost gyms, most people should be able to get to one. However, some may not. Or some may hate going to them. We get this.
We’re going to split this up into two questions. The first assumes that you can buy weights to use at home. The second is focused on training without weights.
What is the best Upper Body Workout to do at home?
Firstly, we’d recommend you find a way to do pull ups and dips at home. If you have space and the money, consider buying a pull ups and dips station. If not, you may need to get creative in other ways.
Now, all you need are some weights (ideally a combination of dumbbells and barbells). Once you have these, you can do chest presses, shoulder presses, lateral raises, and some form of row exercise for the back (to replace the seated rows).
If you don’t have a bench, lie on the floor, or lean against a wall.
Pro Tip: Google and YouTube are your best friend here. If you’re looking for a variation of any exercise, someone has probably asked, and solved this already.
At Sports Samurai, we do prefer going to a gym, rather than working out at home. There’s more variety, and so it’s easy to vary equipment when things get boring. However, there’s no reason why the above home workout won’t work for you. In fact, you’ll save time by doing it.
What is the best Upper Body Workout to do without weights?
Now you’re testing us!
It’s time to get really creative if you’re not able to buy any weights to use at home. Most importantly, it can also get difficult, quickly. Nevertheless, we’re here to help. Here are 5 exercises that you can do:
- Tricep dips using a chair or a bench
- Any push-up variation, ideally a few different types
- Bodyweight rows
For instance, you could also consider buying resistance bands, and use these instead of weights.
However, we will say this though…
If muscle growth is your goal, consider changing your mind about joining a gym. Quickly. Working out without weights for muscle growth is difficult, and it limits your potential. A gym is an ideal place to achieve your goals.
In this article, we’ve gone through our Upper Body Workout For Huge Growth. We’ve discussed why strength training is important and our Upper Body Workout for muscle growth. Plus, we’ve also gone through alternatives you can do at home, with or without weights.
Pro Tip: Keep learning, and experimenting with new exercises and variations. Quickly, you’ll have a bunch of Upper Body exercises that you enjoy.
What is your favourite Upper Body Workout? Or what exercises do you prefer to do for muscle growth? Let us know in the comments section below.