Workout Routines

The Ultimate Upper Body Workouts

Maximum results in minimal time is what you can expect from these two upper body routines.

bodybuilder chest close-up
Duration 40 min
Exercises 7
Equipment Yes

Each and every one of us steps foot into the gym because we want to improve our physical selves. While we all might have different goals, the same theme exists for all of us…progression. Now, there are a few guys out there that get to lift heavy weights for a living. Perhaps they've been lucky enough to gain major sponsorship or have lucrative contracts with a magazine and/or sports supplement manufacturer. These guys “get paid” to workout, so for them the gym is their office.

For most of us, however, we cannot afford to build our lives around the gym, but must fit the gym into our lives. Between work, family, friends, and errands, we're lucky to find just 3-4 days per week to train for perhaps 60-90 minutes at a time. Thus, it's important that every moment we spend fighting the resistance of dumbbells, barbells, cables or machines be used with maximum efficiency. That means choosing the “best bang for your buck exercises” that yield optimal muscle building results in a minimum amount of time.

Below (the exercises) are the two workouts that will help you craft a strong and sculpted upper body. Perform each one once a week for optimal results.

The Exercises

Bench Press

Quick Tip: For maximum stimulation of the chest, position your torso on the bench with a slight arch in the lower back; the ribcage held high; and the shoulders shrugged back and downward.

Incline DB Press

Quick Tip: Vary the incline of the bench workout-to-workout or set-to-set from 30 to 45 to 60 degrees to target different motor unit pools.

Wide-Grip Pullup

Quick Tip: Vary grip widths and the angle of the torso when pulling to effectively stimulate all areas of the back musculature.

Underhand Grip BB Bent Row

Quick Tip: Keep the torso bent at an angle of about 75 degrees and pull the bar into the lower abdomen to best stimulate the belly of the lats.

Seated BB Military Press

Quick Tip: Use a bench with back support and keep your torso upright throughout the set (leaning back engages too much upper pecs). Bring the bar just below the chin before driving it back to the top.

Shoulder-Width Grip BB Upright Row

Quick Tip: Raise the bar to a level where the upper arms are parallel to the floor. At the top the hands should be lower than the elbows to best stimulate the shoulders.

Triceps Dip

Quick Tip: In order to keep chest activation to a minimum and target more triceps activation, make sure your torso remains upright throughout the set. Lower yourself to the point where your upper arms are parallel with the floor.

Partial Rack Deadlift

Quick Tip: For complete back development vary the range of motion from just above knee height to as low as the mid-shins. It is best to stick with one range of motion per workout.

One-Arm DB Row

Quick Tip: Keep your upper body parallel to the floor throughout the set. As you raise the DB, keep the elbow close to the body and do not allow the elbow to go higher than the height of your torso.

Incline BB Press

Quick Tip: Use the same torso position that was mentioned above for the bench press. Lower the bar to the top of the chest, just below the chin.

Chest Dip

Quick Tip: Keep your torso leaning forward throughout the set to more strongly engage the pecs. Lower yourself to a point where you can feel a slight stretch in the chest before pushing back to the top. To keep more tension on the pecs do not lockout.

Seated DB Press

Quick Tip: To put the greatest emphasis on the anterior delts, press the DB’s with the palms facing each other. To work the anterior delts but also bring the lateral heads greatly into play, press with the elbows held back in line with the torso and palms facing forward.

Close-Grip BB Upright Row

Quick Tip: Take a grip on a BB with your hands spaced about six inches apart. Raise the bar to about the height of your chin to bring the mid and upper traps into play along with the anterior delts.

Close-Grip Pullup

Quick Tip: Take a slightly less than shoulder width grip on the pull-up bar. Lift your body up to a point where you feel your biceps are fully contracted, while focusing on keeping lat activation to a minimum. Lower yourself to a point where there is still a slight bend in the elbows to keep tension on the biceps.

Workout 1

Exercise 1

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Barbell How to
Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
14, 10, 8, 6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Warrior Fit Incline Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
10, 8, 6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Wide-Grip Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Wide-Grip Pullup thumbnail
3 sets
Max reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Underhand-Grip Barbell Bent Row
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
12, 10, 8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Seated Barbell Shoulder Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Seated Barbell Shoulder Press thumbnail
3 sets
10, 8, 6 reps
-- rest
Perform seated.

Exercise 6

Barbell Upright Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Upright Row thumbnail
2 sets
10, 8 reps
-- rest
Shoulder-width grip.

Exercise 7

Bodyweight Dip You'll need: Dip Station How to
Bodyweight Dip thumbnail
3 sets
Max reps reps
-- rest

Workout 2

Exercise 1

Partial Rack Deadlift
exercise image placeholder
4 sets
14, 10, 8, 6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10, 8, 6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Incline Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Barbell How to
Incline Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
10, 8, 6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Bodyweight Dip You'll need: Dip Station How to
Bodyweight Dip thumbnail
3 sets
Max reps reps
-- rest
Bodyweight chest dip.

Exercise 5

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press
bsn-overhead-mass-gainsj thumbnail
3 sets
10, 8, 6 reps
-- rest

Exercise 6

Barbell Upright Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Upright Row thumbnail
2 sets
12, 10 reps
-- rest
Close grip

Exercise 7

General Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Pullup thumbnail
3 sets
Max reps reps
-- rest
Close-grip
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