Upper Body Exercises for Strength

Resistance training which works on the principle of Overload will help improve upper body strength. For strength gains, it is recommended to do lower reps with heavy weights.

Here are few exercises you can perform to increase upper body strength. Perform these exercises with a strict adherence to proper form and techniques. Use weights around 70-80% of your 1 Rep Max (RM).

  1. 1.     Push-ups
  • Face down on the floor with arms extended in front of the chest and shoulder width apart. Back flat and feet together
  • Lower the body towards the floor while maintaining a straight back. Elbows shouldn’t flare out
  • Push your body back up as you exhale
  • Repeat 20 times
  1. 2.     Pull-ups
  • Grab the pull-up bar with palms facing forward using wide, medium, or close grip
  • Hang down with arms extended, lower back slightly arched
  • Pull yourself up towards the bar until it touches your upper chest. Perform the movement using mainly your back muscles. Breathe out as you do the movement
  • Slowly lower your body down to starting position with arms extended and lats stretched as you breathe in
  • Repeat 20 times
  1. 3.     Barbell Bench Press
  • Lie on a bench with feet flat on the floor, with neutral spine or a slight lower back arch
  • Using a medium-width grip, grab the bar and lift above your chest
  • Breathe in and slowly lower the bar towards your middle chest, around the nipple area until the arms form a 90-degree angle. Don’t go lower than this as the workload will be transferred to the shoulders instead
  • Push the barbell back up as you breathe out
  • Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps
  1. 4.     Flat Dumbbell Fly
  • Lie on a bench with feet flat on the floor, with neutral spine or a slight lower back arch
  • With palms facing each other, hold the dumbbells in front of you; with straight arms and a slight bend on the elbows, shoulder width apart
  • Breathe in and lower your arms out at both sides in a wide arc until you feel a stretch on the chest
  • Get back to starting position with dumbbells in front of the chest while you breathe out
  • Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps
  1. 5.     Lat Pulldown
  • Sit and adjust the thigh pads for comfort and to prevent the knees from rising up while you do the exercise.
  • Hold the cable bar with a wide overhand grip
  • Keeping your back straight with a slight arc on the lower back, pull the bar down towards your chest while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Breathe out on this movement
  • Slowly return the bar to full height as you breathe in
  • Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps
  1. 6.     One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Place the right leg on top of the bench, lean forward and rest your right hand on the other end of the bench until your torso is parallel to the bench
  • Use the left hand to pick up the dumbbell and hold it while keeping your back straight.
  • Pull the dumbbell up towards the side of your chest as you exhale, keeping the arm close to your side. Use the back muscles in doing the pulling motion instead of the arm muscles. Squeeze the back as you do the lift.
  • Lower the dumbbell back to starting position as you breathe in.
  • Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps per side.
  1. 7.     Standing Military Press
  • Grab the barbell with pronated grip
  • With back straight and a slight arc on the lower back, feet shoulder width apart and a slight bend on the knees, hold the barbell in front of your upper chest
  • Lift the barbell over your head in a steady, forceful motion as you breathe out
  • Lower the barbell back to upper chest level as you breathe in
  • Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps