Upper Body Exercise Tips

Read these 35 Upper Body Exercise Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Muscle Building tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How much should I train my abdominal muscles?

Reps and Sets for Abs

Abdominal muscles don't need to be trained differently than other muscles, 6-20 reps, 3-4 sets.

   
What can I do in order to "feel" it more when I do a dumbell fly?

Twist on Dumbbell Fly

Add a twist at the top of the dumbbell fly movement in order to get a more intense contraction of the chest muscles.

   
How do I isolate the tricep muscle for toning, and what workout is best for that?

Isolating Triceps

There are a number of exercises that target the triceps. Some popular ones are dumbbell or barbell overhead extensions, kickbacks, lying extensions, cable machine pressdowns, and cable extensions. Most gyms have triceps machines. Exercise bands or tubing can be used in place of dumbbells. The thing to remember about triceps is that it straightens the elbow, and you have to do that against gravity. You can choose one or two exercises and do two or three sets of each. You also use the triceps in bench presses or overhead presses, so there's no need to overdo the isolation exercises.

   
What can I do to lessen wrist stress when doing barbell curls?

Curl Bar to Ease Wrist Stress

Use an EZ curl bar instead of a straight bar when doing biceps curls; this will help to remove stress from the wrists by placing them in a more natural position.

   
Can you suggest any more exercises for shaping the upper chest besides the incline bench or incline fly?

Upper Chest Exercises

The best exercises for upper chest are incline bench presses and incline flies. You can also try a cable cross with the handles held rather high. You will probably get better results if you also include some flat presses and military presses to not neglect the surrounding areas.

   
What is the best exercise for the entire deltoid?

Working the Deltoid

The best exercise for the entire deltoid is the military, or overhead, press. This does emphasize the anterior delt, though, so if you have time and especially want to work shoulders, it's a good idea to add a set or two of lateral raises and/or posterior flies.

   
How can I increase the intensity of triceps kickbacks?

Increasing Kickback Intensity

When performing kickbacks, pause when arm is fully extended and raise arm slightly to increase muscle stimulation.

   
How do I get a stronger looking back and get rid of my childish shoulder blade look? And also what muscles do the chin-up style pull-up and the behind the neck pull-up work?

Back Development

To develop your back, do pull-ups or chin-ups, or lat pulldowns at the gym. Also do an exercise that works the middle back. Bentover rows can do this, as can low cable rows or back machines that use an overhand grip. You should also do some shrugs for your traps and reverse flies to target the posterior deltoid. Chin-ups and pull-ups both use lats, traps, and rhomboids. Chins use more biceps and pull-ups more forearm.

   
How can I work on developing the V shape of my back?

Pull-ups for Back Muscles

Do pull-ups for the lats by taking a wide grip and concentrating on using your back muscles. Build up to adding weight when you do the exercise. Pull-ups will help you develop a nice set of back muscles, if done properly.

   
I have been doing arm exercises for 2 years and have increased the weight gradually. I do at least 6 sets of 12 of about 3 to 4 different exercises twice a week. I can lift about 15 kg but my arms don`t seem to have increased in muscle. Why is this?

Arm Development

It is easy to overwork your arms. These are relatively small muscles, and also get worked with exercises like pulldowns or bench presses. Sometimes better results can be achieved by doing more chest and back exercises that use arms and fewer specific arm exercises. Another approach is to use heavier weight and fewer reps. Muscle development is partly genetic, so it's possible to get very strong but not show a lot of muscle. This lean look can be very attractive if that's what's natural for you.

   
How can I maintain form on a dumbell fly movement?

Hugging a Barrel

On a dumbbell fly, in order to properly perform the exercise visualize your arms wrapping around a tree or barrel. This will keep your arc wide enough and keep the movement from becoming like a bench press.

   
How can I target different areas of my chest muscles?

Bench Press Angles

Vary the angle of the bench when doing bench presses to target different parts of the pectoral (chest) muscles.

   
Which parts of my abdominals should I train first?

Order to Train Abdominals

Train lower abs first before the obliques and upper abs, to target them more effectively.

   
How can I increase the definition and shape of the chest muscles?

Shaping the Chest Muscles

Dumbbell flys will help to bring out the separation and shape of the chest muscles.

   
How can I keep the intensity high on a military press movement?

Military Press Intensity

On military presses lower the bar only to the level of the ears and extend to a point just before lockout to keep tension on shoulder muscles throughout the movement.

   
How can I target the triceps using a bench press exercise?

Target Triceps with Bench Press

To work more triceps, do a close grip bench press.

   
How can I build my forearms and grip strength?

Building Forearms and Grip

Doing heavy dead lifts and shrugs will build forearm and grip strength, provided you are not using wrist straps.

   
Is it ok to work shoulders the day after a good chest workout? How do I know that I am not working my chest a little too?

Working Shoulders After Chest

When you do pressing movements, such as the bench press, you also use the front part of your shoulder, the anterior deltoid. If you do a heavy shoulder workout the day after a good chest workout, you may be overworking the anterior delt. There's less problem with adding stress to your chest muscles on shoulder day. Lots of people do work chest one day and shoulders the next, and it may depend on your choice of exercises, but it would be best to structure your workouts so you don't have to do that.

   
What positioning should I focus on during the bench press?

Focusing the Bench Press on the Chest Muscles

When performing a bench press, you should keep your rear deltoid muscles on the bench as much as possible. In other words spread the chest by keeping your shoulder blades pulled towards your spine and drop the shoulders in the direction of your waist. This will help to keep the focus on the chest throughout the movement.

   
How can I improve my chest muscles with dumbbells?

Dumbbell Exercises for Chest

Either dumbbell bench presses or flies, or both, will improve your chest muscles. It's good to do your presses on a bench, though you can use an exercise ball if you prefer. You can even do presses on the floor, but your range of motion will be limited. Flies can also be done on a bench or on the floor. If you have a bench that inclines, you can add incline presses or flies after you have been working on flat bench versions for a while.

   
What is an alternative exercise to the dumbell fly?

Dumbbell Fly Alternative

As an alternative to dumbbell flys you can do a cable crossover movement. When doing this movement make sure to focus on squeezing the center of your chest. This is another way to help bring out the separation in the center of the chest.

   
I'm a student in Great Britain and doing my GCSE`s. We are doing a piece of coursework in PE. For it I need to find ways on improving upper body strength. Can you give me some tips?

Upper Body Strength

The basic exercises for upper body strength are push-ups and pull-ups. With barbells or dumbbells, you can do bench presses or bentover rows. You can add military presses for your shoulders and biceps curls and triceps extensions for your arms. Gyms have specialized machines for all of these. You can look up more about these to get information for your assignment.

   
How can I isolate my abs more effectively?

Isolating Abdominals

For abs, to lessen hip flexor involvement and avoid overworking the neck extensors, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and flex your hamstrings when doing crunches.

   
How should I position my forearms on a bench press exercise

Forearm Positioning on Bench Press

Your forearms should remain close to vertical throughout the bench press movement. This will lessen the stress on your wrists. The exception would be the close grip bench press in which case you would use a significantly lower weight.

   
When working with weights to sculpt my arms, how much weight do I have to use?

Sculpting Arms

To sculpt your arms, do exercises for both biceps and triceps. Choose a weight that fatigues your muscles in 12-15 repetitions. Do two or three sets of each. This is not enough to give you bulky muscles but will give your muscles tone. Using weights that are too light will not give your muscles enough resistance.

   
How can I vary the intensity of the lateral raise?

Lateral Raise Variation

With lateral raises, bend arms slightly at the elbows to make the exercise easier and straighten arms to make exercise more challenging.

   
What position is best for lat training?

Elbows in or out for lat training??

The latissimus dorsi muscle performs two main actions:
humeral extension and adduction. Seated rows with the elbows out(horizontal abduction) utilize the rear deltoids and rhomboids more than the lats. Lat pulldowns are a pure adduction movement and seated rows with the elbows in is pure extension. Therefore, to train the lats effectively, keep your elbows in near your body on seated rows.

   
When doing a bench press, how can I more effectively target the chest?

Targeting the Chest

On the bench press, the wider the grip the more it targets the pectorals (I.e. chest) lessening the involvement of the triceps

   
How can I more effectively isolate the shoulder muscles?

Isolating the Deltoids

On shoulder movements such as the lateral raise and front raise, only lift the weight to shoulder level to minimize the involvement of the traps.

   
I would like to know the best and quickest way to go about losing the fat off my arms. I`ve lost 30 lb, but not off my arms. What can I do to look ok for a wedding that I`m in this summer. Thanks so much!!

Losing Fat from the Arms

You can't target certain body parts for spot reduction. If you have lost weight overall except on your arms, just keep up what you are doing and your arms will follow. You can also do some light weight training for your arms to tone them and make them look better.

   
What are some ways I can target different muscles in my back?

Targeting Different Back Muscles

On back exercises such as pulldowns and bent over rows, vary the grip to work different parts of the back; close grip, wide grip, forward and reverse grip

   
How do I target the lower part of the chest?

Targeting Lower Chest

A decline bench press targets the lower portion of the chest.

   
When working with weights to sculpt my arms, how much weight do I have to use?

Sculpting Arms

To sculpt your arms, do exercises for both biceps and triceps. Choose a weight that fatigues your muscles in 12-15 repetitions. Do two or three sets of each. This is not enough to give you bulky muscles but will give your muscles tone. Using weights that are too light will not give your muscles enough resistance.

   
How should I position my arms when performing a bench press?

Bench Press Arm Positioning

While performing the bench press, when the upper arms are parallel to the floor keep them at a 45 degree angle to torso to lessen the stress on the shoulders.

   
How can I focus more on the upper chest?

Upper Chest

An incline bench press targets the upper portion of the chest.

   
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