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by Alex Nerney on July 7, 2014

upper-body-workout

Ready to get stacked, shredded and swole, all in one workout? This upper body workout has it all: exercises for boulder-shoulders, barrel-chests, granite backs, cannon-ball bis and horseshoe tris. Best of all, there’s not a single leg exercise in sight – because the top-heavy look is so in right now.

Heavy Barbell Bench Press

3 Warm-Up Sets

3 x 5 Working Sets

If you don’t start your upper body workout with heavy bench, you’re no bro of mine. Barbell bench is the upper-body equivalent of a squat (whatever that is), and there’s no substitute for the muscle-building power of heavy, low-rep benching. Start with a light warm-up weight, and increase the weight by about 20% every set. Reduce the rep range as you go, until you’re ready for 3 sets of 5 with your heavy working weight. There’s not usually a huge amount of difference between your 5 rep max and your 3×5 rep max – so don’t shy away from going heavy (as if I need to tell you that).

Military Press

1 Warm-Up Set

2 x 10 Working Sets

In the quest for ­boulder shoulders, there’s no exercise better than barbell military press. A barbell allows you to pack-on more weight than dumbbells, and strict military press recruits the anterior, medial and posterior delts – perfect for complete shoulder development. After heavy bench, this exercise can be a struggle – so make sure that you choose a weight slightly lower than your normal 10-rep working set.

Heavy Barbell Rows

3 Warm-Up Sets

3 x 5 Working Sets

Super-sloppy 150lbs cheat-curls are about as close as most bros get to a true back workout. If you’re serious about packing-on some slabs of back-muscle, you need to get on your heavy rows. Start-off with a supinated (palms-up) grip, and focus on contracting and squeezing your back muscles. For your heavy working sets, switch to a pronated (palms-down) grip, and smash out 3 sets with the heaviest weight you can safely manage.

Weighted Pullups

1 Warm-Up Set

2 x 10 Working Sets

Pullups: an exercise for women, children and weak dudes, right? Which is why we’re not doing pull-ups – we’re doing weighted pull-ups, and wearing a ton of plates around our waist. Use an overhand, shoulder-width grip, and perform one bodyweight warm-up set to minimize the risk of tearing your precious biceps. Then, load yourself up with as much weight as you can handle for 2 sets of 10.

Cable Tricep Pushdowns

3 x 8 Working Sets

At last! The moment you’ve been waiting for – it’s time to get our pump on. Find yourself a cable station, and perform 3 heavy sets of cable pushdowns. Keep your elbows locked at your sides, and focus on contracting your tris at the bottom of the movement. Minimize your rest time between sets, and go as heavy as you can manage without ruining your form.

Z-Bar Preacher Curls

3 x 8 Working Sets

No upper body workout would be complete without some bicep exercise. Z-bar preacher curls are one of my favorite exercises, and they’re perfect for taking your arms to their physical limit. Grab the z-bar with a shoulder-width grip, and make sure that your upper arms are planted firmly on the preacher bench. Then do what you do best – and curl yourself to swole-finity and beyond.

See you next time, bros,
Alex

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[Upper body workout image via ShutterStock]

Alex Nerney

About Alex Nerney...

Alex Nerney is Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist