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Quick Fix Workouts - Upper Body

Ideas for Busy People

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Updated September 22, 2003

We're easing out of summer and you know what that means: busy schedules, shorter days, baggy clothes and cold weather. This time of year, people get busy and often skip exercise because they don't have time. If you've run out of time to exercise, this Quick Fix series will help you maximize your time for fast, effective workouts. This week, you'll learn all about the upper body. Includes a new workout.

Upper Body for Busy People

When strength training, you should be working all your muscle groups, including the upper body. If you're short on time, learn how to work more efficiently with the time you do have. Below are some ideas for quick upper body workouts:

1. Concentrate on the larger muscles of the chest and back.

Exercises for the chest and back also work the arms and shoulders. If you don't have time to work your entire upper body, at least work the chest and back to involve these other muscles groups as well. Try these exercises:

  • Pushup - Works almost every part of the upper body - chest, arms, shoulders, abs and back
  • Chest Press - Primary muscle: chest, Secondary muscle: triceps
  • Chest Fly - Primary muscle: chest, Secondary muscle: front shoulder
  • One-armed Row - Primary muscle: back (lats), Secondary muscle: biceps
  • Dumbbell Pullover - Primary muscle: back (lats), Secondary muscle: chest
  • Reverse Fly - Primary muscle: upper back (rhomboids), Secondary muscle: rear shoulder

2. Choose One Muscle Group a Day

When you lift for one muscle group per day, you'll only need about 10 minutes for your workouts. If you go this route:

  • Choose 2-3 exercises per body part (beginners, choose one)
  • Go heavy on the weight. Since you're only working one muscle group, you won't need to save energy for anything else.
  • If you're a beginner, do one set of each exercise. Intermediate and advanced exercisers should do 1-4 sets with a minute or so of rest in between.
  • Use these resources to set up your program:
    Chest Exercises
    Back Exercises
    Shoulder Exercises
    Bicep Exercises
    Tricep Exercises

3. Work Opposing Muscle Groups

When you alternate between one muscle group and another, this cuts out the rest time so your workouts are faster and more efficient.

  • Chest/Back - Example: Chest press followed by dumbbell rows
  • Biceps/Triceps - Example: Bicep curl followed by a kickbacks

4. Do Compound Exercises

This means putting together 2 exercises that work different muscle groups. The downside of this is that large muscle groups require heavier weights than shoulders and arms. For example, you could do a one-armed row into a tricep kickback but, chances are, the weight you need for the row is too heavy for a kickback.

This means putting together exercises in which you can use the same weight. To give you some ideas, see my new Quick Fix Upper Body Workout.

These are just a few ideas for being creative with your workouts which goes to show that, no matter how busy you are, there's always time for exercise!
Related Video
Building Upper Body Strength in Children

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