There are thousands of ways to resistance train. Provided you work hard and safely, document the results, allow enough recovery time between workouts, and then train progressively, resistance training will work within your genetic endowment and nutritional intake habits.

 

upper body workouts, shoulder workouts, arm workouts, chest workoutsRegarding the upper-body, you can use a variety of tools and overload protocols to address the upper body muscles: the pectorals, deltoids, lats, traps, biceps, triceps, and other associated muscle structures. There are chest, incline, and overhead presses, dips, pulldowns, low rows, and upright rows, and a variety of direct biceps and triceps exercises using barbells, dumbbells, and selectorized or plate-loading machine. And these can be done for high, medium, and low repetitions - or a combination of them - using various overload protocols.

 

It can be overwhelming with so many options. So, here are five sure-fire upper body routines that can be a part of any strength, power, weight-loss, and/or general fitness program. I’ve also attached recording forms for you to log your workouts. (Click here to download them.) I promise you, if you use these routines consistently, work as hard as you can, and recover between workouts, you will see results, guaranteed.

 

General workout guidelines:

 

  1. Complete the workout in the exercise order format listed (note examples A & B). INSERT YOUR EXERCISE CHOICES ON THE WORKOUT FORM.
  2. Work to achieve muscular overload with a resistance that fits the exercise prescriptions (Rx) listed.
  3. Record the training date ("DATE"), the resistances ("WT") used and the repetitions ("REPS") achieved for each workout performed.
  4. Attempt to progress each workout in terms of doing more repetitions and/or using more resistance according the exercise prescription (Rx).
  5. The "NOTES" section on workout form: space to record machine seat/back/handle settings, the device used (i.e., barbell, dumbbell or machine) or other pertinent information that facilitates the proper performance of the exercise.
  6. Use proper exercise technique and be safety conscious.  Use a spotter on certain exercises and stop when safe exercise technique cannot be maintained.

 

Workout #1: Big 4 @ 3 Rounds

 

An upper body workout that alternates the four major multi-joint movements: chest push, row/low row, overhead push, and pulldown for three rounds, decreasing the repetitions each round. The triceps and biceps are then addressed.

 

Specifics:

  • Choose a chest push, row/low row, overhead push and pulldown and do each for all three rounds.
  • Rest 1:00-1:30 between exercises each round and 2:00-3:00 between rounds.
  • Complete the workout with a tricep and bicep exercise.
  • All sets performed to volitional muscular fatigue.

 

Exercise order format:

 

 

Example A:

 

   

Example B:

 

CHEST PUSH

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

   

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

ROW/LOW ROW

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

   

BENT-OVER ROW

OVERHEAD PUSH

 

 

DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

   

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

   

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

CHEST PUSH

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

 

   

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

 

ROW/LOW ROW

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

   

BENT-OVER ROW

OVERHEAD PUSH

 

 

DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

 

   

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

 

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

   

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

CHEST PUSH

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

   

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

ROW/LOW ROW

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

   

BENT-OVER ROW

OVERHEAD PUSH

 

 

DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

   

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

   

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

CHEST PUSH

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

 

   

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

 

ROW/LOW ROW

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

   

BENT-OVER ROW

OVERHEAD PUSH

 

 

DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

 

   

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

 

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

   

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

TRICEPS

 

 

 

TRICEP PRESS

 

   

TRICEP PUSHDOWN

BICEPS

 

 

 

MACHINE BICEP CURL

   

BARBELL BICEP CURL

 

Workout #2: 14 – 8 Circuit

 

An upper body workout that alternates three  different push & pull exercises for two rounds: 12-16 repetitions (average = 14) & 6-10 repetitions (average = 8) to volitional muscular fatigue with a 1:00 rest between exercises & 2:00 - 3:00 rest between rounds.

 

Specifics:

  • Use the same three push and pull exercises for both rounds.
  • Rest 1:00 between exercises in each round.
  • Rest 2:00 - 3:00 between rounds.

 

Exercise order format:

 

 

Example A:

 

 

 

Example B:

 

PUSH

 

 

 

STANDING BARBELL PRESS

 

 

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

BENT-OVER ROW

PUSH

 

 

 

WEIGHTED DIPS

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

PULLEY UPRIGHT ROW

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

PUSH

 

 

 

MACHINE CHEST PRESS

 

 

BARBELL INCLINE PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

 

 

PLATE-LOAD HIGH ROW

PUSH

 

 

 

STANDING BARBELL PRESS

 

 

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

BENT-OVER ROW

PUSH

 

 

 

WEIGHTED DIPS

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

PULLEY UPRIGHT ROW

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

PUSH

 

 

 

MACHINE CHEST PRESS

 

 

BARBELL INCLINE PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

 

 

PLATE-LOAD HIGH ROW

                     

 

Workout #3: Push – Pull

 

A higher-repetition upper body workout that alternates three pairs of push and pull exercises, then addresses the biceps and triceps.

 

Specifics:

  • Choose three different push and pull exercises each for the first three segments.
  • Do three sets of each exercise for the first segment and two sets of each exercise for the second and third segments.
  • Complete the workout by alternating a tricep and bicep exercise for two sets each.
  • All sets are performed to volitional muscular fatigue.

 

Exercise order format:

 

 

Example A:

 

 

 

Example B:

 

PUSH

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

PUSH

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

PUSH

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

PUSH

 

 

 

DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

 

 

WEIGHTED DIPS

PULL

 

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

 

 

BARBELL UPRIGHT ROW

PUSH

 

 

 

DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

 

 

WEIGHTED DIPS

PULL

 

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

 

 

BARBELL UPRIGHT ROW

PUSH

 

 

 

MACHINE INCLINE PRESS

 

 

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

PULL

 

 

 

HIGH ROW

 

 

 

BENT-OVER ROW

PUSH

 

 

 

MACHINE INCLINE PRESS

 

 

DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

 

PULL

 

 

 

HIGH ROW

 

 

 

BENT-OVER ROW

TRICEPS

 

 

 

TRICEP PUSHDOWNS

 

 

TRICEP PRESS

 

BICEPS

 

 

 

DUMBBELL BICEP CURL

 

 

MACHINE BICEP CURL

TRICEPS

 

 

 

TRICEP PUSHDOWNS

 

 

TRICEP PRESS

 

BICEPS

 

 

 

DUMBBELL BICEP CURL

 

 

MACHINE BICEP CURL

 

Workout #4: 3 Strikes & Out

 

An upper body workout that alternates three push and pull exercises, then addresses the triceps and biceps by using the three strikes and out overload protocol: three consecutive sets to volitional muscular fatigue with the same resistance and a :30 rest between sets.

 

Specifics:

  • Use three different push and pull exercises and any tricep and bicep exercise.
  • Use a resistance that allows for volitional muscular fatigue in the 1st set rep range set. Record the result (wt. x reps) in the space provided.
  • Rest exactly :30 and perform a second set to volitional muscular fatigue with the same resistance. Record the reps achieved in the "2nd" space provided.
  • Rest exactly :30 and perform a third set to volitional muscular fatigue with the same resistance. Record the reps achieved in the "3rd" space provided. 
  • It is recommended to have a training partner time the :30 rest between exercises.
  • Rest 2:00 - 3:00 between exercises.

 

Exercise order format:

 

 

Example A:

 

 

 

Example B:

 

PUSH x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

DUMBBELL INCLINE PRESS

 

 

MACHINE CHEST PRESS

PULL x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

PUSH x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

 

BARBELL DECLINE PRESS

 

 

DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

PULL x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

DUMBBELL BENT-OVER ROW

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

PUSH x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

 

MACHINE CHEST PRESS

 

 

DIP MACHINE

 

PULL x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

HIGH ROW

 

 

 

PLATE-LOAD ROW

TRICEPS x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

 

LYING TRICEP PRESS

 

 

TRICEP PUSHDOWN

BICEPS x 3 sets / :30 rest

 

 

BICEP CURL MACHINE

 

 

BARBELL BICEP CURL

 

Workout #5: Ultimate Super Set

 

An upper body workout performed in three super set segments: chest push and pulldown, overhead push and row, and incline press and another pulldown Minimal rest is taken between exercise pairs.

 

Specifics:

  • Choose a chest push and pulldown for the first segment (three sets each), an overhead push and row for the second segment (three sets each) and an incline press and another pulldown for the third segment (three sets each).
  • Perform the paired sets by alternating the opposing exercises with minimal rest between them (i.e., chest push x 8-12, immediately to pulldown x 8-12, immediately to chest push x MAX REPS, immediately to pulldown x MAX REPS, etc.) working each set to volitional muscular fatigue.
  • Either use the same resistance for all three sets or reduce the resistance for the 2nd and 3rd MAX REPS sets if more repetitions are desired.
  • Rest 3:00 between super set segments.

 

Exercise order format:

 

 

Example A:

 

 

 

Example B:

 

CHEST PUSH

 

 

 

DUMBBELL INCLINE PRESS

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

CHEST PUSH

 

 

 

DUMBBELL INCLINE PRESS

 

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

 

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

CHEST PUSH

 

 

 

DUMBBELL INCLINE PRESS

 

 

BARBELL BENCH PRESS

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

OVERHEAD PUSH

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

 

 

STANDING BARBELL PRESS

ROW

 

 

 

PLATE-LOAD ROW

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

OVERHEAD PUSH

 

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

 

 

 

STANDING BARBELL PRESS

 

ROW

 

 

 

PLATE-LOAD ROW

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

OVERHEAD PUSH

 

 

MACHINE OVERHEAD PRESS

 

 

STANDING BARBELL PRESS

ROW

 

 

 

PLATE-LOAD ROW

 

 

SEATED ROW

 

INCLINE PRESS

 

 

BARBELL INCLINE PRESS

 

 

DUMBBELL INCLINE PRESS

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

INCLINE PRESS

 

 

 

BARBELL INCLINE PRESS

 

 

 

DUMBBELL INCLINE PRESS

 

PULLDOWN

 

 

 

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

 

WIDE GRIP PULLDOWN

 

Remember to click here to download your workout recording forms!

 

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