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Basic Upper Body Workout

This basic upper body workout includes all the classic exercises you need to work your chest, back, shoulders and arms.

  • Beginners: Perform 1 sets of 12 to 16 repetitions or start with this Beginner Total Body Workout.
  • Int/Adv: Perform 1-3 sets of 10-14 reps using enough weight that you can ONLY complete the desired number of reps.
  • Rest at least 48 hours between your exercise sessions to allow your muscles to recover.
  • Warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes before starting your weight training workout
  • See your doctor if you have any medical conditions and modify the exercises as needed to fit your fitness level.
Chest Press

Lie on a ball, bench or floor with abs contracted. Begin with weights straight up over chest, elbows slightly bent. Bend the elbows and lower arms until the elbows are just below shoulder level (arms should look like a goal post). Contract the chest and push arms up, but don't allow weights to touch at the top.

Ball pushup
Begin in a pushup position on the floor, hands wider than shoulders and resting on the knees or on a ball for added intensity. Bend elbows and lower into a pushup, elbows to 90 degrees and abs in tight. Don't sag in the middle. Push back to start and repeat.

Barbell Row

Holding bar or weights in front of thighs, bend knees and tilt torso forward to about 45 degrees, abs in tight. Take the weight out, following line of thighs, then squeeze the back to draw weight in towards belly button.  Avoid this move if you have back problems.

Back Extension

Lie face down with hands either behind the back or lightly cradling the head. Lift upper body off the ground a few inches, keeping head and neck in alignment. For a challenge, then lift feet off the ground keeping legs straight (knees don't have to be together), hold for 2-4 counts, lower and repeat.

Overhead Press
Sit or stand holding weights in hands, elbows bent and weights next to shoulders.  Straighten elbows and push weights overhead, palms facing each other and slightly in front of head. Lower arms and repeat.

Front Raises

Stand with feet hip-width apart, abs in and torso upright with medium weights resting in front of thighs (palms face the thighs).  Lift arms to shoulder level, elbows slightly bent and palms facing the floor. Lower and repeat.

Concentration Curls
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Kneel or sit in a chair and prop right arm on the inside of right leg, weight in hand and palm facing out. Contract the bicep to pull weight towards the shoulder (without touching the shoulder). Lower and repeat.

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Bend torso forward until you're at 45 degrees or parallel to the floor, elbows bent and next to ribcage. Contract triceps to straighten elbows, bringing weight up slightly above hips. Keep the abs tight and raise torso if this hurts your lower back or hamstrings.

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Begin sitting on a step or chair with hands next to thighs. Balance on your arms, moving backside in front of the step with legs straight (harder) or bent (easier). Bend the elbows and lower body a few inches, keeping the shoulders down and the elbows parallel to one another and at 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position and repeat.
Related Video
Weight Lifting Exercises for Back and Shoulders
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