Tall Paul / Mr. Vancouver

21 Upper Body Workouts Every Begginer Needs To Know

Getting the courage to buy a membership to a gym and mentally commit to a workout routine us hard enough. Having to decide what 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! Here are 21 upper body workouts with full explanations on how to do them correctly.

Go ahead and put these to use the first day you step in the gym and have a great workout!

 
Isolated Bicep Curls with barbell

Barbell Curls ( Bicep )

Set your shoulders back and keep your body fully aligned as if you are standing with your back against a wall

Have hands shoulder-width apart — curl bar 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.

Control the bar down in reverse, allowing for your bicep to slowly release bar down. Keep duress on bicep the whole way down, not allowing other muscles to take over the primary workload. Reset shoulders and repeat

Exhale on the curl up

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

 
Barbell bench press form workout

Bench Press ( Chest )

Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor. If your legs don't reach the floor due to height or tight hips, then place a few plates under them till you can comfortably have them level.

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 ( shoulders ) feeling the bench. Do not let everything roll up and round your back out.

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. Then take a deep breath in, filling your lunges without disturbing your shoulder/ butt/ legs/ back placements.

Control the bar down to your nipples, 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.

Your instinct will be to roll your shoulders up and concave your chest. Doing this will put undue pressure on your shoulders and take away from muscle engagement on your pecs.

Allow the bar to come to a full stop at nipple height while keeping all muscles engaged. Then squeeze your gluteus down ( butt ) 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

DO NOT

  • Let feet move around as lift is occurring

  • Roll shoulders inward during lift

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

 
Barbell Bent Over Row Workout

Bent Over Row ( Back )

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

Keeping your upper body in the same form, 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.

Try not to let back, and shoulders round out. You can pretend a stick is laid across your back, where its points of contact are the back of your skull / between your shoulder blades / mid back and finishing on your glutes ( butt ). Keep your body at this angle throughout the number of reps you are performing.

Pull the bar towards the chest, allowing your arms to an angle at 45 degrees ( if you were looking from directly above, it would have the same aspects as the wings of a plane). Open up your chest by allowing your shoulders to roll back and if you were pinching an object between your shoulders blades.

Control bar back down to starting position, keeping core engaged.

Exhale on the pull into your body

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

 
Dumbell Bicep Curls workout

Dumbbell Bicep Curl ( Bicep )

Set your shoulders back and keep your body fully aligned as if you are standing with your back against a wall.

Start with thumbs facing forward and palms into the side of your hips. As you start curling the dumbells 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.

Control the dumbbells down in reverse order, allowing for your bicep to slowly release bar down. Keep duress on 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

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

 
Chin Up Workout

Chin-up ( Back / Arms )

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

Re-engage with 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. 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

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

 
Narrow Grip / Close Grip bench press workout

Narrow Grip Bench Press ( Chest )

Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor. If your legs don't reach the floor due to height or tight hips, then place a few plates under them till you can comfortably have them level.

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. When engaging your hands with the bar, try to keep your back and rear delts ( shoulders ) feeling the bench. Do not let everything roll up and round your back out.

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. Then take a deep breath in, filling your lunges without disturbing your shoulder/ butt/ legs/ back placements.

Control the bar down to your nipples, 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.

Your instinct will be to roll your shoulders up and concave your chest. Doing this will put undue pressure on your shoulders and take away from muscle engagement on your pecs.

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

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

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 )

 
inside grip pushup workout

Inside Grip Push-up ( Chest )

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 roll back. Keep core engaged and butt in line without chest.

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.

Think as if a broomstick was put from your feet to your head and you have to keep your butt /back/shoulders and back of skull touching the stick during full movement.

Exhale during the push-up

DO NOT

  • Let stomach sag

  • Perch butt higher than rest of body

  • Roll shoulders inward during lift

 
Dumbell single arm row workout

Dumbbell Single Arm Row ( Back )

Find a stable platform to plant your hand on ( Squat Rack / Dumbbell Rack / Bench )

Split your feet, with opposite foot of working hand in the front. You are bracing upper body with your 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, with elbow tucked beside the body and going past the levelness of your back.

Exhale during the pull up

DO NOT

  • Round back

  • Roll shoulders inward during lift

 
Dumbbell Skull Crusher Workout

Dumbbell Skull Crusher ( Triceps )

Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor. If your legs don't reach the floor due to height or tight hips, then place a few plates under them till you can comfortably have them level.

Squeeze butt cheeks on the bench and have the width of your back touching it. Hold 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 like your the 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

DO NOT

  • Allow shoulders to shrug during the lift.

  • Let elbows break their angle.

  • Bring Dumbbells down behind the head.

 
Dumbbell upright row workout

Dumbbell Upright Row ( Traps / Back )

Start by standing upright to get your shoulders set back with your hands sitting lightly on your quads. Perform a slight pelvic tilt and fully engage your core.

To start the movement, 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 then control the movement back down.

Exhale on the drive up

DO NOT

  • Shrug your shoulders into your ears

  • Roll your shoulders forward as the move is happening.

  • Pull your elbows back behind your body.

 
Barbell Strict. shoulder press workout

Barbell Strict Shoulder Press ( Shoulders )

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.

Drive hands upward, taking the bar just past your nose. Once the bar is passed your head push your chin forward while keeping your arms going in the same direction upward.

Fully lock your arms out at the top with your head slightly pushing through your shoulders. 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

DO NOT

  • Lean backwards as you press.

  • Start with the bar at nipple height or below.

  • Push the bar behind you

 
pull ups workout form

Pull-up ( Arms/ Back )

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

Re-engage with 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, 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. 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

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

 
Bench Tricep Dips workout form

Bench Dips ( Triceps )

Find a sturdy platform to perform this move off of, a bench works well or the edge of a box.

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 help if needed.

Exhale on the drive up

DO NOT

  • Round your shoulders forward

  • Drop below 90-degrees

  • Let your elbows pop out wide as the lift is happening, keep them tight to you.

 
Single Arm dumbbell bench press workout form

Single Arm Dumbbell Bench Press ( Chest / Tricep / Abs )

Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor. If your legs don't reach the floor due to height or tight hips, then place a few plates under them till you can comfortably have them level.

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 as you do. Come to a full pause then drive back up through your tricep finishing with full chest contraction at the top.

Exhale on the drive up

DO NOT

  • Allow shoulder to roll forward.

  • Allow butt to come off the bench.

 
Overhand inverted row workout form

Overhand Inverted Row ( Back / Shoulders / Abs )

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, then allowing your arms to pull.

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

DO NOT

  • Let your body sag as you lift

  • Roll your shoulders forward

  • Lead your lift with your stomach

 
Barbell upright row workout form

Barbell Upright Row ( Traps / Back )

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.

To start the movement, 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

DO NOT

  • Shrug your shoulders into your ears

  • Roll your shoulders forward as the move is happening.

  • Pull your elbows back behind your body.

 
Barbell Shoulder Push Press workout form

Barbell Push Press ( Shoulders )

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.

Drive hands upward, taking the bar just past your nose. Once the bar is passed your head push your chin forward while keeping your arms going in the same direction upward.

Fully lock your arms out at the top with your head slightly pushing through your shoulders. 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

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.

 
push-up workout form

Push-up ( Chest / Triceps )

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 roll back. Keep core engaged and butt in line without chest.

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.

Think as if a broomstick was put from your feet to your head and you have to keep your butt /back/shoulders and back of skull touching the stick during full movement.

Exhale during the push-up

DO NOT

  • Let stomach sag

  • Perch butt higher than rest of body

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

 
Dumbbell reverse fly workout form

Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly ( Back / Shoulders )

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.

Keeping your upper body in the same form, 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.

Try not to let back, and shoulders round out. You can pretend a stick is laid across your back, where its points of contact are the back of your skull / between your shoulder blades / mid back and finishing on your glutes ( butt ). Keep your body at this angle throughout the number of reps you are performing.

Start the move by pulling up with your lats and rear delts ( back of your shoulders ) 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 bar back down to starting position, keeping core engaged. Keep the same form on the way back down.

Exhale on fly upwards

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

 
Single arm dumbbell tricep extension workout form

Single Arm Dumbbell Triceps Extension ( Triceps )

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

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 triceps and locking our your arm fully at the starting position.

Exhale on the drive back up

DO NOT

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

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

 
Underhand inverted row workout form

Underhand Inverted Row ( Back / Shoulders / Abs )

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, then allowing your arms to pull.

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

DO NOT

  • Let your body sag as you lift

  • Roll your shoulders forward

  • Lead your lift with your stomach