When thinking about the upper body, most people think about their arms. They hit a few bicep exercises, superset it with some triceps work, and call it a day. The upper body is composed of a lot more than our ‘swimsuit’ muscles – and when we work those, we’ll have a balanced and proportionate body composition, good posture, and look even better at the beach! So, here are some moves to get you started:
1. Pullups (Variations)
The king of upper body exercises, pull-ups work your shoulders, back, arms, core and even chest! It may be hard to pull your own bodyweight at first, so use some aid – tie some resistance bands, get a buddy to spot you, or even hire a personal trainer to make sure you’re doing things right. Also, don’t forget to switch your grip up – start with what feels easiest, and move upwards from there.
If pullups are king, then pushups are queen. Being the most notorious of all bodyweight workouts, it’s always cool to say you can slay a few pushups – the higher your pushup number, the cooler you are. So add a few sets of these to your upper body day to work your chest, shoulders, core and triceps.
A close relative of the pushup, dips place a lot of emphasis on your chest, shoulders and triceps. A bit of a challenge in comparison to the pushup, they will rev up the triceps burn, leaving you surely shredded for the beach. This exercise is a good way to focus on your ‘swimsuit’ muscles without neglecting the rest of your upper body.
4. Wall walks
If you’re into fun, new and interesting workouts, this one is sure to have you jumping in your training shoes. Wall walks are a great way to work your shoulders, while simultaneously prepping you for getting your first handstand down. And who doesn’t want to be able to do a handstand?
5. Kneeling single arm shoulder presses
Another way to take your upper body to the next level, is to take a normal exercise and switch it up! Do your standard shoulder presses while kneeling on one knee, then swap sides. Or, for an even bigger challenge, do them one arm at a time! That way, you work your oblique muscles in the process. Don’t forget: your core is a part of your upper body!
I know, I know, planks suck. We’ve all been there, dreading the final few seconds in this awkward and unpleasantly painful position. But, they work wonders on everything from your shoulders to your core. Nothing beats the plank in long term strength maintenance.
7. Shoulder taps
A plank upgrade for those up to it! Just get into your standard plank position and reach with one hand for your opposite shoulder while keeping your body balanced with your other arm. This exercise is a great way warm up or cool down after an intense workout, or even to superset with tougher exercises.
If you feel shoulder taps are too easy for you, try plank rows. Instead of planking off the ground, grab two dumbbells and plank, rowing one dumbbell at a time as you would doing single arm rows off a bench. Make sure to keep your back straight – form comes first! As this exercise is not for the faint-hearted, make sure you have someone with you, preferably a professional, to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.
9. Side raises w/bicep curl
Another way to amp up your upper body workouts, is mixing up some simple exercises together to create a new one. Here we combine side raises with bicep curls for some extra pump and power. Use this exercise to end your workout, and you’ll be sure to leave the gym with cut arms!
10. Lying chest flyes w/leg raises
Also, adding core to a standard upper body exercise is a great way to get those abs in, while burning extra fat and still beefing those summer muscles. Do your standard chest flyes, except lay on the floor and raise your legs with each squeeze of your chest. Now that’s what you call a great upper body move!