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 can’t 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.
- 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° to target different motor unit pools.
- 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° 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 at which the upper arms are parallel to the floor. At the top, the hands should be lower than the elbows to best stimulate the shoulders.
- Quick Tip: 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.
- 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 6″ 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.
- Quick Tip: Take a slightly less than shoulder-width grip on the pullup bar. Lift your body up to a point where you feel your biceps are fully contracted, while focusing on keeping lats 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.