10 Exercises for the Best Upper Body Workout


10 Exercises for the Best Upper Body Workout

Are you ready to start working out your upper body, but don’t know where to begin? Sure, you can start with lifting weights and adding more movement to your routine, but there is a wide variety of exercises that you can turn to when you want to work on your upper body. 

It is important to not haphazardly start training or exercising. That is a recipe for disaster and not achieving the end result you desire. It is best to start with a goal in mind which will steer you in the best direction to create a well-suited exercise regimen stacked with exercises for the best upper body workout. 

Let’s take a look at 10 exercises for the best upper body workout that you can include in your exercise regimen or start building one with today.

Before You Begin Your Workout

Before we take a look at the specific exercises, remember to incorporate a healthy lifestyle to achieve the best results. Eat healthily. Drink plenty of water. Make sure to stay on top of wellness routines. Dedicate adequate time for night sleeps and rest. 

When you start your workouts, also remember to warm up and cool down. If you are working with a schedule (e.g. upper-lower split) be sure to reserve a rest day, so you are not overworking your body.

Upper body workouts consist of strength training. For most, the idea is to gain a sculpted physique. Of course, strength training works well for those who suffer from physical ailments such as back pains due to spinal disk movement

Strength training includes bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, machines, weighted equipment, and the like. It will not include aerobic exercises like swimming or running or flexibility training. You can always do these exercises at home or in the gym.

1. Pushup

Pushups are a classic upper body exercise. To do a pushup you simply put your hands on the floor a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, extend your legs behind you and push up. When you push up, you want to brace your core. Lower and raise your body in second intervals (2, 3, 4, and so on). 

The key is to remember to keep your back straight while going through the movements and fully extend your arms at the top of a pushup.

2. Pullup

The pullup is another traditional upper body workout exercise. Pull-Ups require a vertical pulling movement that targets the majority of the muscles in your back and arms and heavily involves your shoulder and scapular stabilizers.

3. Bent-over row

To do a bent-over row, you stand straight and tall, holding a set of dumbbells at your sides with palms facing inward. Bend at the waist maintaining a flat back (just above parallel with the floor), braced core, and slightly bent knees. With dumbbells at your side, move in a slow rowing movement.

The rowing movement not only helps with sculpting the upper back musculature but can help with eliminating back pain and correcting back posture.

4. Arnold Press

The Arnold press targets all three sections of the deltoid muscle at one time. To do this exercise you will hold two dumbbells in front of your chest, palms inward, and then press them above your head rotating your palms outward. Reverse the movement as you bring the dumbbells back down.

5. Dumbbell rear-delt fly

When doing a dumbbell rear-delt fly, you will hold dumbbells down at your sides with your chest near parallel to the ground and bring dumbbells up with straight arms. Stop when your arms are in line with your body. The movement is almost like birds opening their wings. This exercise can be done standing or sitting and is best when utilizing slow movements.

6. Pullover

A pullover is just as it sounds. You are pulling a dumbbell over your head and above your chest while lying flat on a bench. This exercise not only works out your lats and pecs but also your core. You want to be careful to not drop the dumbbell over your head.

7. Standing Overhead Press

With the overhead standing press, you will move in a vertical pressing movement. This exercise mainly targets the anterior deltoid but also hits the core and surrounding musculature (serratus anterior muscle).

8. Floor Chest Fly

This floor exercise targets chest muscles and once again, you only need a pair of dumbbells. Laying on your back, knees bent and feet flat, hold a set of dumbbells over your chest with your palms facing each other. Your arms can have a slight bend at the elbow. Lower the dumbbells slowly to your side, creating a wide arc with your arms until they just barely touch the floor.

9. Deadlift

Think back to the weightlifting champions you’ve seen. You’ll be your own cheerleader as you lock out with the bar. You want to be careful in your stance, keep a flat back, and be mindful of hip and shoulder movements to avoid strain or injury.

10. Resistance Band Workouts

Resistance bands workouts have a lot of versatility to allow you to do many different exercises. For this reason, they are pretty popular and celebrated for being able to help strengthen pretty much every major muscle group; so without a doubt, they will help your upper body. In fact, some of the exercises above that call for dumbbells can be replaced with resistance bands. 

Most people can use resistance bands. Just like with any other exercise equipment, you want to be careful while using them (recall those resistance band mishap videos shared across social media). Exercises that you can do with resistance bands include but are not limited to: bicep curl, pushup, split-stance overhead press, pull-apart, and overhead pull-apart.

Remember to not start working out without any guidance, research, or goal in mind. Without knowledge and direction, you won’t be able to take your body where you want it. Look at the various workouts available and see what works best for you. You can always change up your exercise routine and try out new exercises until you find the ones that you like.

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