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Upper Body Challenge - Tri-Sets

This upper body challenge is an intense mix of exercises designed to target the muscles of your chest, back, shoulders and arms in new ways. For each muscle group, you'll do a tri-set - three different exercises performed one after the other. You'll then rest that muscle group by doing a tri-set for a different muscle group, making this a fast-paced, intense workout.

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed
Various weighted dumbbells, a barbell, an exercise ball and a step or bench.

How To

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes with light cardio or lighter versions of the exercises below
  • Perform the exercises in each tri-set one after the other with little or no rest in between.  
  • Use enough weight or resistance so that you can ONLY complete the suggested number of reps
  • To view detailed instructions and tips click on pictures/hyperlinks below
Tri-Set 1 - Chest

On knees or toes, perform 12 pushups.

Y-Chest Press  

Lie on a bench and hold medium-heavy weights with elbows bent.  Straighten the arms and press the weights up and out at an angle into a y-shape.  Bring the weights together over the chest, lower  and repeat for 12 reps.  

Low and High Flies

Chest Fly Chest Fly
Lie on a bench and hold medium-heavy weights over the chest.  A)  Lower the arms out to shoulder level, elbows slightly bent.  B)  Bring the weights back up, but at a lower angle so that the weights are over the hips.  C) Lower the weights back down in a fly.  D) Then lift them back over the chest.  Continue alternating a regular fly with a low-angle fly for 12 reps.
Tri-Set 2 - Biceps
Hammer Curl with Power Squat
Power Hammer SquatPower Hammer Squat
Hold weights in both hands and swing them back slightly, powering the weights forward into a hammer curl while squatting as low as you can.  Stand up as you lower the weights and repeat for 12 reps.

Barbell Curls

Hold a heavy barbell with hands shoulder-width apart.  Contract the biceps to curl the weight towards the shoulder, keeping the wrists straight.  Lower and repeat for 12 reps.

Concentration Curls

Sit on a step or bench and hold a heavy weight in the left arm, elbow propped on the inside of the left thigh.  Contract the bicep to pull weight towards the shoulder.  Lower and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.
Rest for 30-60 seconds and Repeat Tri-Set 1 and Tri-Set 2
Tri-Set 3 - Back
Barbell Row

Hold a barbell in front of the thighs, tip forward to about 45 degrees (back flat) and squeeze the back to pull the barbell towards the belly button.  Release and repeat for 12 reps.

One-Armed Row

Place left foot on a step or the knee on a weight bench. With the weight in the right hand, squeeze the back to pull the elbow up in a row.  Lower and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.

Reverse Flies

 Hold medium-heavy dumbbells and begin seated, bent over with arms hanging down and weights under the knees. Lift the arms out to the sides, up to shoulder level, squeezing shoulder blades together.  Lower and repeat for 12 reps.
Tri-Set 4 - Shoulders
Overhead Barbell Press
Hold a barbell straight overhead with hands wider than shoulders.  Bend the elbows, lowering the bar to about eye-level.  Press up and repeat for 12 reps.

Upright Row

Hold weights or a barbell in front of the thighs.  Draw the elbows up, bring the weights to about chest level.  Lower and repeat for 12 reps.

Incline Lateral Raise

Lie with your left side resting on the ball, left knee on the floor for support and the right leg straight. Holding a medium weight in the left hand, lift the arm up to shoulder level, keeping the elbow slightly bent and the wrist straight. Lower and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.
Rest for 30-60 seconds and Repeat Tri-Set 3 and Tri-Set 4
Tri-Set 5 - Triceps
Skull Crushers

Lie down, holding a barbell straight up, hands shoulder-width apart.  Bend the elbows, lowering the weight towards the forehead.  Press up and repeat for 12 reps.

Tricep Press
tricepextension.jpg (92142 bytes) tricepextension2.jpg (99811 bytes)
Sit on a ball or chair and hold a dumbbell in both hands with arms extended overhead.  Bend the elbows and lower the weight behind the head.  Lift and repeat for 12 reps.

Sit on a chair or bench and balance on your arms, moving backside in front of the step with legs straight. Bend the elbows and lower, keeping the shoulders down until elbows are at 90 degrees. Repeat for 12 reps.
Tri-Set 6 - Core
Ball Exchange

Lie on the mat and place the ball between the feet.  Lower the arms and legs as low as you can without arching the back, then bring them back to the middle, taking the ball in the hands.  Lower the arms and legs down towards the floor again and continue, exchanging the ball between the hands and feet for 12 reps.

Ball Crunch

Lie with the ball resting under the mid/lower back and place hands behind the head or across the chest.  Contract your abs to lift your the torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips. Lower and repeat for 12 reps.


Get into a plank position, on the forearms and knees or toes and hold for 30 seconds.
Rest for 30-60 seconds and Repeat Tri-Set 5 and Tri-Set 6
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