If your exercise regime is only running, cycling or playing sports, then you need to pay attention.
It is important that you get a full body workout, especially if you focus mostly on lower body fitness. Exercising your shoulders, back and arms can improve your posture, help you avoid injuries, strengthen abs and core muscles as well as tone and improve your body to engage in heavy exercises that requires you to use your legs. Hence, make sure to exercise different muscles of your body for fitness and strength.
If you’re an athlete your main focus is to tone and strengthen your legs, but working out the remaining muscles in your body can give you an edge to succeed. Common belief is that added muscles can slow down the body, but lately this notion has changed. Muscle strength and endurance goes a long way in increasing athletic performance.
When it comes to deciding which exercises to follow, points out that you must ‘focus on a few compound exercises that hit a lot of major muscle groups rather than do a lot of isolation moves that hit only one muscle.
Since your objective is balanced fitness that involves all body parts, your main objective is to work all body parts in equal doses.Work equally on pulling as well as pushing muscles of the upper body. For eg, if you do push ups (pushing), then make sure that you also do some pulling exercise like barbell rows. Work for both endurance and strength development, instead of focusing only on one. For eg you can do some heavy overhead presses in the 5-10 reps range and along with that do some high repetition sets of bodyweight push ups, to get a more complete training effect.”
Follow any of these 6 upper body exercises that should be a staple for your upper body training:
1) Push ups push ups are “a great exercise that hits the pushing muscles as well as the core. You can do them with your bodyweight for high reps and also do some advanced versions like one hand push ups, etc for low rep strength development.”
Note: Here’s how to do push ups:
– Place yourself face down with the palms on the floor. Place the palms wider than the shoulder-width, arms extended, legs straight and feet together or slightly apart.
– Keep the neck, back & hips aligned and abdominals contracted. Do not arch the back downwards or upwards. Keep it flat like a table top.
– Bend the elbows outwards and bring the chest close to the floor. This is the initial position.
– Push back upwards till the arms extend completely and feel the contraction in the chest muscles.
2. Military press: Good for building pushing strength, military presses are where you can focus on lifting heavy and building strength.
Note: Barbell is the most preferred equipment for military press, or you can also use dumbbells.
– Raise the barbell to your chest with your hand shoulder width apart. This can be done by lifting the barbell straight from the floor or by lifting it off of a power rack.
– Lock your legs and hips underneath you. Feet should be together.
– Without using your lower body, lift the weight overhead.
– Bring the weight back down to your chest in a controlled manner.
3. Parallel bar dips: These are not for the weak minded. Parallel bar dips are tough, yet extremely effective in building important upper body muscle groups. this is “A great upper body pushing exercise that can be done with bodyweight or/also with added weights.”
Note: While Parallel bar dips essentially strengthen your triceps and chest muscles, if you can do them to full capacity, they end up shaping your entire upper body – including core. Here are a few tips to perfect your dips –
– Place your hands on the parallel bars. Your palms should be facing each other. Do not use a “palms-out” grip.
– Straighten your arms and lock out the elbows.
– Lift your feet from the bench or box.
– Take a deep breath, bend your elbows and slowly lower your body towards the floor.
– Keep your elbows on the same plane or in-line with your wrists. Your elbows should not move very far outside your wrists.
– Stop your descent when your upper arm is just above parallel with the floor. If you are flexible enough through the shoulders, you may be able to descend to the point where your upper arms are parallel to the floor but you should not go any lower as it would place your shoulders under great stress.
– Immediately begin pushing to return to the starting position. Exhaling as you go. Do not pause at the bottom position.
– Pause briefly at the top position before beginning the next repetition.
4. Pull ups: “If you can knock out more than 10 pulls ups in good form then you will have great upper body pulling strength. It’s one of the ultimate tests of upper body strength, so spend time getting good at it,”
Note: Pull ups are innocently played by children in their school compound. But as we grow older, pull ups become impossibly hard. Don’t lose heart. Begin with leg support, and increase counts from 1 to 12 over a month or so. Here are few steps to follow:
All you need is something overhead to grab onto and heave yourself up. Hold a bar with both hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Cross your legs and now pull up your body with your arms. Ideally your chin should be the level of the bar when you pull up. If you haven’t done these before try jumping up to the top and holding your body on top for a while thus building the strength required for a pull up. Another way to do an aided pull up is put one leg on a chair and perform these and slowly try shifting all your weight onto your arms and away from your legs.
5. Barbell rows: These are great for developing pulling strength and promoting overall shoulder health. “Be sure to arch your back when you do this, to get the best effect.”
Note: Barbell rows can be intimidating but if done with precision you will not have any injuries. Check out the right technique to do Barbell rows.
6. Dumbbell curls: “Helps to develop pulling strength of the arms. However this is not a compound movement, so dont spend too much time on this exercise, a set or two at the end of your workout should be enough.”
Note: Begin with light weights and then increase them gradually. Follow the right steps to improve your Dumbbell curls and improve your upper body fitness.