21 Upper Body Workouts: Weight Training Exercises Explained

Getting the courage to buy a membership to a gym and mentally commit to an upper-body workout routine is hard enough. Having to decide what muscle group exercises to do once there is just too much for most people.

Instead of getting full use out of the gym membership, many of these people go and sit on a cardio machine for 30 minutes then leave.

I want to help you feel more comfortable right away in the gym, so here is a list of upper body and body weight exercises with a full explanation on how to do them correctly.

Go ahead and start building some strength to go along with all that cardio.

 

List of Upper Body Exercises

 
 
 
 
 
 

Chest Workouts

 
 

How To Do A Bench Press

Squeeze butt cheeks on the bench and have the width of your back touching it — grip bar with hands shoulder-width apart. When engaging your hands with the bar, try to keep your back and rear delts feeling the bench.

Push bar off of the rack and bring out directly above nipples, locking arms in place and pausing for a second to make sure everything is in place with a slight bend in your chest.

Control the weight down to your chest, allowing your elbows to come down in a 45-degree angle or less to your body. Open up your chest as you are letting the bar decline and sit your shoulders down and back.

Allow the bar to come to a full stop at nipple height while keeping all muscles engaged. Then squeeze your glutes down and drive your heels through the floor to allow all the energy from your lower half to stabilize your legs to the core.

Drive-up in a controlled motion, pushing through your triceps into your shoulders attachment point with pec and finally moving entirely into middle chest contraction.

Exhale during the push up from the body.

 


Bench Press

Barbell bench press form workout

DO NOT

  • Let feet move around as lift is occurring

  • Roll shoulders inward during lift

  • Have the bar drop to upper chest or shoulders

 
 

How To Do A Narrow Grip Bench Press

Squeeze butt cheeks on the bench and have the width of your back touching it. Grip bar with hands just outside the diameter of the chest cavity, make sure there is only enough room to let your elbows pass directly beside the chest.

Push bar off of the rack and bring out directly above nipples, keep your arms straight and pause for a second to make sure everything is in place. Then take a deep breath in, filling your lunges without disturbing your shoulder/ butt/ legs/ back placements.

Control the bar down, allowing your elbows to come directly beside your body. Open up your chest as you are letting the bar decline and sit your shoulders down and back.

Start the push up with a focus on your triceps pushing, as the bar starts rising push your triceps through your inner pecs to finish the move with a full pec squeeze.

Exhale on the push up from the body.

 

Narrow Grip Bench Press

Narrow Grip / Close Grip bench press workout

DO NOT

  • Let feet shift as the lift is occurring

  • Roll shoulders inward during lift

  • Have the bar drop to an area above your nipples ( upper chest, shoulders )

 
 

How To Do An Inside Grip Push-up

Position your hands in line with your chest just slightly wider than the chest cavity. Place feet shoulder-width apart with your body in line from head to toe, core fully engaged.

Keep your shoulders back and back straight, then take yourself down till you are an inch from the floor. While declining, allow your elbows and arms to hug your body, opening up your chest as your shoulders rollback. Keep core engaged and your butt inline to your chest.

Once an inch from the floor, pause and then drive back up from driving through your palms and into your biceps triceps. Coming to the top of the push squeeze your pecs together with full contraction.

Exhale during the push-up.

 

Inside Grip Push-up

inside grip pushup workout

DO NOT

  • Let stomach sag

  • Roll shoulders inward during lift

 
 

How To Do A Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press

Squeeze butt cheeks on the bench and have the width of your back touching it. Hold the dumbbell out directly in front of your chest with your palm facing inwards towards your body. Put the opposite hand up in same fashion, locking in your shoulders and core when both in the ready position.

Control the dumbbell down, keeping your elbow pinched in towards your body, rolling your shoulder blade back and opening up your chest. Come to a full pause then drive back up through your tricep finishing with full pec contraction at the top.

Exhale on the drive up.

 

Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press

Single Arm dumbbell bench press workout form

DO NOT

  • Allow shoulder to roll forward.

  • Allow butt to come off the bench.

 
 

How To Do A Push-up

Position your hands a couple of inches wider than your chest, directly under your body, not up by your shoulders. Place feet shoulder-width apart with your body in line from head to toe, core fully engaged.

Keep your shoulders back and back straight, then take yourself down till you are an inch from the floor. While declining, allow your elbows and arms to stay at a 45-degree angle, opening up your chest as your shoulders rotate back.

Once an inch from the floor, pause and then drive back up from driving through your palms and into your triceps. Coming to the top of the push squeeze your pecs together with full contraction.

Exhale during the push-up

 

Push-up

push-up workout form

DO NOT

  • Let stomach sag

  • Perch butt higher than rest of body

  • Let your elbows push out to a 90-degree angle with shoulders.

 
 

Back Workouts

 
 

How To Do A Bent-Over Row

Grip the bar with hands shoulder-width apart. Standing upright, rotate shoulders back and pop chest out. Focus on tightening core.

Rotate at the hips controlling the bar down your knees or lower. Keep back flat, using your hamstring muscles for focusing on your decent and finishing at a tabletop position.

Pull the weight towards the chest, allowing your arms to an angle at 45 degrees. Open up your chest by allowing your shoulders to roll back and if you were pinching an object between your shoulders blades.

Reverse the bar back down to starting position, keeping the same form.

Exhale on the pull into your body.

 

Bent-Over Row

Barbell Bent Over Row Workout

DO NOT

  • Let knees pull forward as you set into position

  • Let back round out

  • Let shoulders roll inward as the lift is occurring

  • Pull elbows in a 90-degree angle to your shoulders

 
 

How To Do A Dumbbell Single Arm Row

Find a stable platform to plant your hand on.

Split your feet, with opposite foot of working hand in the front. You are bracing your upper body with the planted hand, bringing your upper body to a tabletop position.

Keeping elbow tucked to your side, pull up the dumbbell. The movement is initiated from pulling through your lats, rotate your shoulders backwards and open up your pecs. Squeeze shoulders blades together at the top of the lift.

Exhale during the row up.

 

Dumbbell Single Arm Row

Dumbell single arm row workout

DO NOT

  • Round back

  • Roll shoulders inward during lift

 
 

How To Do A Pull-up

Pull through your lats, having your elbows come down in a V shape which will allow your chest to open. Focus on putting all contraction to a central point at the mid-bottom of your back and keeping your shoulders down.

Bring your upper chest to the bar, contracting your biceps. Control yourself down in reverse order. The main focus is on lats slowly disengaging and lowering yourself to starting position.

Exhale during the pull-up.

 

Pull-up

pull ups workout form

DO NOT

  • Roll shoulders inward as you come up

  • Pull face towards the bar, trying to get chin over the bar

  • Allow feet to swing for momentum

 
 

How To Do An Overhand Inverted Row

Place bar at a position that when you grip it, your body is an inch off of the ground. Grip the bar with an overhand grip, having your palms face away from you. Set your shoulders down, allow your body to be in plank form from feet up to shoulders.

Engage your core, so your butt does not sag, and also you do not lead with your stomach. Pull up with your rear delts and lats engaging first.

Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle the whole time and open up your chest as you ride up to meet the bar at nipple height. Once at the top position, hold it for a second then control yourself down.

Exhale on the pull-up.

 

Overhand Inverted Row

Overhand inverted row workout form

DO NOT

  • Let your body sag as you pull

  • Roll your shoulders forward

  • Lead your lift with your stomach

 
 

How To Do An Underhand Inverted Row

Place bar at a position that when you grip it, your body is an inch off of the ground. Grip the bar with an underhand grip, having your palms face towards from you. Set your shoulders down, allow your body to be in plank form from feet up to shoulders.

Engage your core, so your butt does not sag, and also you do not lead with your stomach. Pull up with your rear delts and lats engaging first.

Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle the whole time and open up your chest as you ride up to meet the bar at nipple height. Once at the top position, hold it for a second then control yourself down.

Exhale on the pull-up

 

Underhand Inverted Row

Underhand inverted row workout form

DO NOT

  • Let your body sag as you lift

  • Roll your shoulders forward

  • Lead your lift with your stomach

 
 

Arm Workouts

 
 

How To Do A Barbell Bicep Curl

Standing barbell bicep curls, set your shoulders back and keep your body fully aligned as if you are against a wall.

Have hands shoulder-width apart — curl bar without having your elbows break from your side. Keep shoulders back as you contract your muscle, putting full focus on bicep strain and weight.

Control the bar down in reverse, allowing for your bicep to slowly release bar down.

Exhale on the curl up.

 

Barbell Bicep Curl

Isolated Bicep Curls with barbell

DO NOT

  • Allow elbows to move forward and backwards as the lift is occurring

  • Round shoulders inward at the top of the curl

  • Pull with full upper body and back

 
 

How To Do A Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Start your grip with thumbs facing forward and palms into the side of your hips. As you start curling the dumbbells rotate palms upward without having your elbows break from your side. Keep shoulders back as you come to the top of the lift, putting full focus on bicep strain.

Reverse bicep curl back down, allowing for your bicep muscles to slowly release the dumbbell down. Keeping stress on the bicep the whole way down, not allowing other muscles to take over the primary workload. When hands are reaching your hips, rotate your palms into your body, allowing your thumbs to be facing the sky. Reset shoulders and repeat.

Exhale during the curl up.

 

Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Dumbell Bicep Curls workout

DO NOT

  • Allow elbows to move forward and backwards as the lift is occurring

  • Round shoulders inward at the top of the curl

  • Pull with full upper body and back

 
 

How To Do A Chin-up

Grip the bar shoulder-width apart with palms facing yourself. Completely disengage shoulders and arms, allow yourself to hang there.

Re-engage your muscles with a focus on your lats pulling your arms into place, allowing your shoulder to stay down. Engage core at the same time and control your legs.

Start your pull by pulling through your lats, allowing your elbows to come slide in alongside your body. Allow your chest to open by pinching your lats down into a V, focus on putting all contraction to a central point at the mid-bottom of your back and keeping your shoulders down.

Bring your upper chest to the bar. Perform a negative chin-up on the way back down.

Exhale during the pull-up

 

Chin-up

Chin Up Workout

DO NOT

  • Roll shoulders inward as you come up

  • Pull face towards the bar, trying to get chin over the bar

  • Allow feet to swing for momentum

 
 

How To Do a Dumbbell Skull Crusher

Squeeze butt cheeks on the bench and have the width of your back touching it. Hold the dumbbells directly out in front of your chest with your palms facing each other and thumbs pointed past your head.

Lock your shoulders into place and control the dumbbells down towards your skull. Elbows are to stay in place and act as your pivot. Bring your hands down to your head. Pause at this position and then drive up through your triceps once again keeping your elbows aligned, and locking your arm out once the dumbbells reach the top spot.

Throughout the whole lift, the elbows should not break their plane and dip into your body.

Exhale while pushing dumbbells up.

 

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

Dumbbell Skull Crusher Workout

DO NOT

  • Allow shoulders to shrug during the lift.

  • Let elbows break their angle.

  • Bring dumbbells down behind the head.

 
 

How To Do A Bench Dip

Rotate your hands, so your palms are placed firmly on the bench with your fingers gripping the side. Place your butt an inch away from the bench while still keeping your body upright and rotate your shoulders back. Place your feet, so your knees are at a 90-degree angle from your body.

Allow your butt to fall directly down from its resting position, keeping that inch gap between the bench and yourself. While going down, keep your elbows in the same angled place, do not let them roam backwards.

Take yourself down to a full 90-degree angle with your elbow joint if possible. Pause, then drive up through your triceps to a fully locked out position at the top. Use your feet to drive if needed.

Exhale on the drive up.

 

Bench Dip

Bench Tricep Dips workout form

DO NOT

  • Round your shoulders forward

  • Drop below 90-degrees

  • Let your elbows pop out wide as the lift is happening

 
 

How To Do A Single-Arm Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Stand in a shoulder-width position and raise the dumbbell above your head, fully extended. Fully engage your core and keep your body straight as best as possible.

Control the dumbbell down behind your head. Keep your elbow locked in position using it as a hinge. Once dumbbell is entirely behind your head, pause and then push back up. Driving through your tricep and locking our your arm fully at the starting position.

Exhale on the drive back up

 

Single-Arm Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Single arm dumbbell tricep extension workout form

DO NOT

  • Let the elbow move side to side as the lift is occurring

  • Lean over to your side in attempts to help lift the weight

 
 

Shoulder Workouts

 
 

How To Do A Dumbbell Upright Row

Have a dumbbell in each hand and stand tall, then drive your hips forward in a pelvic thrust and press your elbows high and wide. Think as if taking your elbows to the far upper corners of the room.

While driving your elbows wide, your focus should be on opening your chest up and fully extending your upper body. With a slight pause at the top of the lift, fully contract your traps and shoulders then control the movement back down.

Exhale on the drive up

 

Dumbbell Upright Row

Dumbbell upright row workout

DO NOT

  • Shrug your shoulders into your ears

  • Roll your shoulders forward as the move is happening.

  • Pull your elbows back behind your body.

 
 

How To Do A Barbell Strict Shoulder Press

Grip the bar shoulder-width apart and keep your head in a neutral, upright position with your shoulders back and core tight. The bar should be resting at the top of your chest.

Drive hands upward in an overhead press, taking the bar just past your nose.

Fully lock your arms out at the top with your head slightly pushing through your shoulders. Allowing your shoulders and core take the brunt of the weight that is above your head.

Control the bar back down to your upper chest and reset then repeat.

Exhale during the press-up.

 

Barbell Strict Shoulder Press

Barbell Strict. shoulder press workout

DO NOT

  • Lean backwards as you press.

  • Start with the bar at nipple height or below.

  • Push the bar behind you

 
 

How To Do A Barbell Upright Row

Start by standing upright to get your shoulders set back with your hands holding the bar a few inches wider than your waist. Perform a slight pelvic tilt letting the bar stay touching your legs as it drops and fully engages your core.

Drive your hips forward in a pelvic thrust keeping the bar tight to your body and press your elbows high and wide. Think as if taking your elbows to the far upper corners of the room.

While driving your elbows wide, your focus should be on opening your chest up and fully extending your upper body. With a slight pause at the top of the lift, fully contract your traps then control the movement back down.

Exhale on the drive up.

 

Barbell Upright Row

Barbell upright row workout form

DO NOT

  • Shrug your shoulders into your ears

  • Roll your shoulders forward as the move is happening

  • Pull your elbows back behind your body

 
 

How To Do A Barbell Push Press

Grip the bar shoulder-width apart while having your feet shoulder-width apart and in a strong athletic position. Keep your head in a neutral, upright position with your shoulders back and core tight. The bar should be resting at the top of your chest.

Engage your core and slight dip down onto your heels and spring upwards in an explosive fashion.

Locking everything in, allowing your shoulders and core take the brunt of the weight that is above your head.

Control the bar back down to your upper chest and reset then repeat.

Exhale during the press-up

 

Barbell Push Press

Barbell Shoulder Push Press workout form

DO NOT

  • Let your knees lead past your toes as you load your dip.

  • Start with the bar at nipple height or below.

  • Push the bar behind you.

 
 

How To Do A Dumbbell Rear Deltoid Fly

Hold the dumbbells to the side of your body with palms facing your side. Standing upright, rotate shoulders back and pop chest out. Focus on tightening your core.

Rotate at the hips controlling the dumbbells down and pulling them in slight, so they end up in front of your legs. Keep back flat, using your hamstring muscles for focusing on your decent and finishing at a tabletop position.

Start the move by pulling up with your lats and rear delts allowing your elbows to stay slightly bent, keep the bend the whole way. Open up your chest by allowing your shoulders to roll back and if you were pinching an object between your shoulders blades.

Control dumbbells back down to starting position doing a reverse rear delt fly, keeping core engaged.

Exhale on fly upwards

 

Dumbbell Rear Deltoid Fly

Dumbbell reverse fly workout form

DO NOT

  • Let the bend in your elbows move as you make the lift

  • Round your back out during the lift

  • Let your knees drive past your toes

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