The Best Workout for Upper Body

Are you looking for a workout that will help you tone and strengthen your upper body? You’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll provide you with the best exercises to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Quick facts: Best Workout For Upper Body

  • ✅ Pull-ups and Push-ups are the two best exercises for upper body strength and development. – American Council on Exercise
  • ✅ Upper body workouts should focus on all muscle groups for a balanced physique – Harvard Health
  • ✅ Bodyweight exercises can be just as effective as weights for upper body workouts – Women’s Health
  • ✅ Working out with free weights leads to greater gains in strength compared to bodyweight exercises – American Council on Exercise
  • ✅ High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than traditional strength training – American College of Sports Medicine
  • Warm-up

    Before starting any workout, it is essential to properly warm up your body to ensure that you don’t suffer any injury. Warming up is a great way to improve the range of motion of your muscles, joints, and ligaments, as well as to increase blood flow throughout the body.

    In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best warm-up exercises for the upper body:

    Five minutes of light cardio

    For a quick warm-up, five minutes of light cardio is the perfect solution. Start with a brisk walk, then increase your speed and intensity until you are jogging slowly. Keeping your arms lifted and pumping helps to increase your heart rate and warm up your upper body muscles at the same time.

    During this five-minute period, you can also do some dynamic stretching to help loosen the muscles in your arms, torso, and shoulders before beginning your upper body workout. As you get closer to the end of the five minutes, begin slowing down and focusing on deeper stretches for an effective cooldown that will prepare you for future workouts.

    Dynamic stretching

    Dynamic stretching is a necessary part of any upper body workout because it helps increase blood flow and improves flexibility throughout the muscles. Dynamic stretching is an active type of stretching that involves intentional movement patterns rather than passive stretches. In dynamic stretching, you move through a range of motion while your body is in motion. This helps increase joint mobility, improves coordination, and increases muscle temperature.

    Examples of dynamic stretching that can be used as part of an upper body warm-up include:

    • Shoulder rotations
    • Arm circles
    • Tricep stretchers
    • Torso twists

    By taking the time for a proper warm-up with dynamic stretches to target the muscles being used for your upper body workout, you can help ensure that your muscles are prepared for the workout ahead.


    Working out the chest muscles is essential for building upper body strength. It is important to understand the basic principles of chest exercises and how to perform them correctly in order to get the most out of your workout.

    This article will explain the different types of chest exercises and give some tips for getting the best results from your workout:


    Push-ups are arguably the best workout for developing strength, endurance, and size in the upper body. The traditional push-up works the chest muscles, triceps, shoulders and core. The key to successful push-ups is proper form. When done correctly, the deep muscles of your core should be engaged as your body forms a straight line from head to toes; meanwhile your hands should be placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart so that you work through the entire range of motion.

    Push-ups can be modified with props like bands and rings which can add extra challenge or support depending on what’s needed. Additionally, there are many variations like decline push-ups and clap push-ups that you can include into your routine for an extra challenge or focus on certain areas like the chest or triceps. Push-ups also require no equipment so they can easily be done at home or when travelling – perfect for those looking to get serious about their upper body training without breaking their budget!

    Chest flies

    Chest flies are an effective exercise for targeting the chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major. This exercise can be done with dumbbells, resistance bands, or a cable machine. For best results and prevention of injury, keep proper form during the exercise and do not use too heavy of a weight.

    To complete this chest workout, start by lying supine on a bench with arms extended straight out to the sides and palms facing up. Inhale as you slowly lower your arms outward to form a “T“. Then exhale as you bring your hands back in until your palms are pressing together in front of you at shoulder level. Try to maintain a slight bend in both elbows throughout the entire movement. Repeat this motion for the desired number of repetitions before releasing the weights or unclipping the cables and returning to starting position. Chest flies will help build strength in your chest muscles while also providing an aerobic effect from doing multiple repetitions quickly with lighter weights.

    Chest presses

    Chest presses are an important exercise for strengthening and building the chest muscles, particularly the pectoralis major.

    Chest presses can be performed with dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, resistance bands, and machine weights. Depending on what type of equipment you have available and your fitness level, begin with light weights or bands if you’re a beginner. As your strength increases, increase the weight to challenge yourself further.

    To do a chest press:

    • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand directly above your shoulders with palms facing inwards towards each other.
    • Lower the weights until they’re level with your chest and then press them back up to starting position in a controlled movement.

    Do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise for 3 sets each session to start working out your chest muscles effectively.


    Working out the back is a key component of any upper body workout routine. A strong back helps to provide stability and power to the rest of the body, and can help to prevent injuries. In addition to this, exercises for the back can be very effective in developing muscle tone, strength and definition.

    Let’s explore some of the best exercises for the back:


    Pull-ups are an upper body exercise that is often used as a measurement of strength, flexibility, and overall fitness level. Pull-ups work several of the major muscles in the arms, back, and shoulders and are considered one of the best exercises for enhancing upper body strength and conditioning.

    This exercise can be done with hands facing away from you (overhand grip) or towards you (underhand grip). When doing pull-ups, your arms should be fully extended at the start of each repetition. As you pull yourself up, engage your lats (latissimus dorsi), mid-back muscles (rhomboids) and biceps to lift your bodyweight until your chin is above the bar. Slowly lower to a full arm extension to finish one repetition. This can also be done using an assisted pull up machine or bands for those who have difficulty reaching their chin above the bar.

    Pull-ups provide a great full-body workout that targets both your upper body and core muscles for enhanced strength and stability.

    Bent-over rows

    Bent-over rows are a great shoulder and back workout that work several muscle groups at the same time. For this exercise, you’ll need an appropriate free weight or barbell.

    To perform the move, stand with your feet hip width apart and hold a barbell in between your legs. Bend forward at the hips, hinging until your torso is almost parallel to the ground, keeping your upper spine extended and core tight. From here, pull the weight up towards your chest by squeezing your shoulder blades together as you bend your elbows wide. When you reach chest height, pause and then slowly lower the weights back down to start position.

    Keep good posture throughout this exercise to ensure that you are using only proper form and strengthening targeted muscles while avoiding injury.

    Lat pull-downs

    The Lat pull-down is a strength-training exercise that targets the muscles in your back. It involves sitting on a bench with a bar and pulling the bar down toward your chest. The main muscle groups targeted in this exercise are the latissimus dorsi (or lats) which are located near your mid-back and help to bend, extend and rotate your arms.

    Additionally, other muscles that are targeted when performing this exercise include the teres major and minor as well as the rhomboids.

    The Lat pull-down is great for building strength and confidence in the upper body. It can also be used to improve posture, as well as overall strength, by targeting muscle groups that are often neglected in regular workouts. When performed correctly it can help prevent injury, increase muscle mass, decrease muscular imbalances and improve muscle coordination. For those looking to get an effective workout for their upper body, this exercise can be beneficial as part of a well balanced workout routine.


    Shoulder exercises target the large muscles of the shoulders, including the deltoids, triceps, and trapezius muscles. In order to get the best results from a shoulder workout, it’s important to focus on strengthening these muscles and increasing their size, endurance, and flexibility.

    Let’s take a look at the best exercises for targeting the shoulders:

    Shoulder presses

    Shoulder presses are a great way to target the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, and arms. When performing a shoulder press exercise, you hold the weight directly in front of you at shoulder height. This can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or cables. Many people prefer to do standing presses because it helps them to engage their core for stability as well as build power and strength.

    As you press up and away from your body, make sure to keep your chest up and press through the full range of motion until your arms are completely extended above your head. To increase difficulty and intensity, you can pause for a two-second count at the top of each rep before slowly lowering the weights back down to the starting position. The shoulder press will help sculpt toned shoulders and strengthen your upper body overall.

    Lateral raises

    Lateral raises are a weight training exercise used to target the deltoids and the rotator cuff muscles. They involve lifting a weight out to your sides in an arc motion in order to mimic the movement of your shoulder joint. Lateral raises are effective for building muscle mass, increasing shoulder strength, and improving posture.

    When performing lateral raises, it’s important to maintain good form throughout the exercise. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep you back straight as you lift your arms out to the side at shoulder height. Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering the weight back down again. Make sure that you don’t arch your back or bend your elbows as you raise and lower the weight, as this can put unnecessary strain on other muscles in your body.

    Front raises

    Front raises are a great exercise for strengthening the shoulder muscles. The exercise works all three heads of the shoulder – the front, medial, and rear heads. To perform a front raise with dumbbells, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your core braced. Hold a set of dumbbells in each hand just above the hips and let your arms hang in line with your torso. Keeping the elbows slightly bent, slowly lift the arms up away from the body until they reach shoulder height or higher before slowly returning back to starting position. This combination of shoulder movement and strength will help you build an impressive upper body.


    Working out the arms is an important part of any upper body workout. This muscle group can be trained with a variety of exercises that target different areas of the arm. Let’s take a look at some of the best exercises for arm strength, endurance, and size:

    Bicep curls

    Bicep curls are one of the most popular exercises for strengthening the upper body. In this exercise, the biceps—the muscles located in the front part of your upper arms—are targeted and worked as you curl a weight up towards your chest, pause for a moment at the top and then lower back down.

    Bicep curls can be done with a variety of equipment including dumbbells or an EZ-curl bar. To maximize muscle building, aim to keep your reps slow and controlled throughout the exercise. Begin with lighter weights and focus on engaging your core to help you stay stable as you move through each rep. As you become more comfortable with your form and range of motion, progressively increase weight to increase resistance for optimal results.

    Tricep extensions

    Tricep extensions are a great exercise to target specific muscles in the upper body, specifically triceps. This is an isolation exercise and can be done with either weight or resistance bands. When executing triceps extensions, keep your elbows close to your head, getting a full range of motion throughout the movement while maintaining good posture.

    Tricep extension exercises help to:

    • Increase overall muscle mass and strength in the arms and shoulders.
    • Improve muscular endurance by helping you maintain proper form over multiple repetitions and sets.
    • Target specific muscles in your triceps area while improving overall fitness levels.
    • Develop coordination between muscles throughout the entire body, enabling you to move more efficiently while performing other exercises or activities.

    Hammer curls

    Hammer curls are a great exercise for strengthening and toning the upper body, specifically targeting the biceps. To perform a hammer curl, start with the arms at your sides, palms facing inwards. Now, with a controlled motion, curl the arm upwards while keeping your palms facing inwards and bend at the elbow. Move slowly and remember to squeeze the muscle at the top of each rep. Lower your arms back down to starting position and repeat for 8–12 reps per set.

    Hammer curls are an effective way to build lean muscle mass in your arms without risking overtraining or injury due to improper form or too much weight on the barbell. Start light and add more weight as you get stronger! The key is to keep proper form throughout your reps for maximum benefit from these curls.


    Core exercises can give you the building blocks for a strong, balanced upper body. These exercises focus on strengthening your abdominal, back, and hip muscles, which are essential for improving your overall strength and stability. Core exercises are essential for any workout routine, so let’s look at the best core exercises for the upper body:


    The plank is a foundational bodyweight exercise for the upper body. It strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles, back, arms and shoulders, as well as other core muscles. Planking also helps improve posture, balance and stability which can help reduce the risk of injury during physical activity. It’s an effective exercise for developing muscular endurance to help you build stronger muscle fibers and keep them more fatigue-resistant during a workout.

    To perform the plank correctly, start in a push up position with your arms extended straight out from your shoulders and your palms on the ground at shoulder width apart. Lower onto your forearms in one movement while keeping your legs straight behind you with toes on the ground. Hold this position for 20-60 seconds depending on fitness levels, making sure to breathe deeply throughout. This exercise can be progressed by:

    • balancing on one arm
    • holding a weight while planking to increase intensity and challenge different muscle groups involved in this exercise.

    Bicycle crunches

    Bicycle crunches are a great exercise to target your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis (or the “six-pack muscles”), the internal and external obliques, and the hip flexors. This exercise is done by lying on your back in a supine position with your hands behind your head. Then, you alternate bringing one knee up towards your chest while simultaneously bringing the elbow of the opposite arm down to meet it.

    You can further challenge yourself by “bicycling” as fast as possible or holding a crunch for an extended period of time once each move has been completed. Bicycle crunches are a great way to build strength in your upper body while also engaging many major muscle groups, allowing you to burn calories quickly and effectively.

    Russian twists

    Russian Twists are an excellent core exercise that engage the muscles of the entire upper body. This exercise is an effective way to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, obliques, and shoulders.

    The movement begins with you lying flat on the ground with your feet off the ground or slightly bent. You then lift your torso slightly and bring your arms across your chest in front of you. With control, twist your torso to one side then back to the center before twisting to the other side. Complete this motion repeatedly for a few minutes or until you feel fatigued.

    When doing Russian Twists, focus on engaging your core muscles throughout the entire range of motion. The combination of slow deliberate movements and efficient muscle engagement will help ensure that you are getting the most from this exercise – sculpted abs, stronger obliques and toned shoulders – all in one simple workout!


    Cool-down exercises are an important part of any upper body workout routine. Cool-down exercises are used to help your body transition from the workout and help bring your heart rate and breathing back to normal.

    In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of cool-down exercises and some of the best cool-down exercises to use for an upper body workout:

    Five minutes of light cardio

    After an intense upper-body workout, it’s important to cool down your body, and five minutes of light cardio is the perfect way to do this. This cool-down period will help your body slowly transition back to everyday activities by increasing your heart rate and breathing more slowly, allowing for greater oxygen delivery to the muscles which is necessary for muscle function.

    Light aerobic activity such as walking or light jogging can be effective forms of cardiovascular activity during this cool-down period; these activities will help reduce the build up of lactic acid in your muscles which can contribute to muscle soreness and stiffness after exercise. Additionally, this cool-down period will help minimize potential post workout injury by increasing blood flow and helping the recovery process by flushing out lactic acid from the muscles.

    Static stretching

    Static stretching is a form of cool-down that involves holding a stretch for a period of time. It can be used to target particular muscles or muscle groups throughout the body, including the upper body. It helps to improve flexibility and reduce any soreness following a workout.

    Static stretches should be held for 15–30 seconds and repeated 2–4 times for each stretch. Doing multiple sets of stretches during the cool-down ensures that all muscles in the upper body are thoroughly stretched, making it beneficial for those looking to increase their range of motion and performance in upper body exercises.

    During each static stretch it’s important to keep breathing regularly and maintain good posture, making sure not to over-stretch or cause pain.

    FAQs about: Best Workout For Upper Body

    Q1: What are the best exercises for upper body strength?
    A1: Push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, rows, and shoulder presses are all great exercises for building upper body strength.

    Q2: How many sets and reps should I do for upper body workouts?
    A2: Generally, you should aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise.

    Q3: How often should I do upper body workouts?
    A3: It is recommended to do upper body workouts 2-3 times a week.

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