Getting Fit Part 3: Upper Body

For many people, the upper body is the best part to workout; and I agree. The basic muscles of the upper body are the chest (Pectorals), back (Latissimus Dorsi), shoulders (Deltoids) and your arms (Triceps, Biceps, Forearms). In this issue I will talk about the first day of the upper body routine, which is the chest and biceps.


Let’s start with the chest, and the most basic of exercises: the bench press. It’s pretty simple, you lie down on a flat bench, put weight on an Olympic bar (that’s the really big bar, about 45lbs) and put your hands just outside shoulder width on the bar and bring it down to your chest and push it up as far as you can and do this at least 10 times. It is good to start out a chest routine with four sets of the bench press to really get warmed up. This exercise will work the lower and middle parts of your chest.

Next, you should try doing bench press but on an incline bench. It’s the same exercise as the flat bench but the new angle causes the upper part of your chest to work more. This is a really good exercise to build up your upper body; it should be done with three or four sets of 10 repititions with either an Olympic bar or with individual dumbbells.

Next you should try doing dumbbell flyes, which is an exercise that works the outside of the chest muscles. Here you lie on either a flat or incline or decline bench, depending on the angle you’re most comfortable with. You take two dumbbells in each hand put them together and point them strait above your chest. Keep your arms slightly bent and bring the dumbbells slowly to your sides until they are about parallel with the floor, then bring them back up slowly until they touch. Do four sets of 10 in this exercise.

The last exercises for your chest are push-ups, yes just like the Sergeant says, “DROP AND GIVE ME 20”, or whatever amount you can do. This exercise will max out your chest’s workout and it won’t be easy, because by this time your chest will be dead tired. To do this exercise properly, put your hands flat on the floor, just a little more than shoulder width apart. Balance yourself on your toes while making sure your back is straight and your hips are up and not sagging to the floor. Bend your arms and bring your body to the floor until your chest touches the floor, then push yourself up all the way. Do about three sets with the maximum amount of reps you can do. There are other versions of push-ups for different abilities, make sure to find the version that is right for you.


Next are the biceps, which are my very favourite muscle to workout. The first exercise is the barbell curl. Grab the barbell with both your hands, shoulder width apart, and the back of you hands facing the floor and your wrists pointed up. Rest the bar against your legs, have your knees bent slightly, your back should be straight and your chest pointed out. Bend your elbows and bring the barbell up to your chest, when you get to the top, squeeze your biceps then slowly bring the barbell all the way back down to your legs. In this exercise technique is everything, so make sure your feet and hands are spread apart properly, and when you bring the bar up do not, and I repeat, DO NOT bend your back backwards, or else you risk injury. Do about four sets of 10 reps and make sure to do the full range of motion, bringing the bar all the way up and all the way down, so the muscles are worked properly.

After your biceps are all warmed up you should do the preacher curl exercise. With this exercise your arms rest on a decline and your hands grasp a barbell. With the preach tucked under your armpits bring the barbell up towards your chin and at the top squeeze your biceps, then bring it back all the way down. This exercise isolates your biceps, so all the work being done is only by the biceps and not by any other muscle. Do about four sets of this exercise with 10 reps each.

The last bicep exercise is the seated dumbbell curls. You sit down on a bench with a back support; have two dumbbells in your hands. Tuck your elbows in and lift each dumbbell one at a time up towards your shoulders, and when you get to the top squeeze those biceps. This exercise will really harden your biceps and they will feel like boulders on your arms. This is a good exercise for shaping your arms and you should do about three sets of 15 reps.

On a final note:

When doing these exercises make sure to take extreme caution. It can be very dangerous to do these exercises improperly, and if you are unsure how to do them, ask someone who knows how, like a trainer. Also when doing these exercises, it is up to you what amount of weight to use, make sure you know what your body can and can’t handle. As a rule of thumb in these exercises it is always important to have a warm-up set with a low amount of weight before starting your regular sets, and make sure to change up the weight between sets to give your muscles a good workout. Consult a physician before finding an exercise routine that is right for you.

Thanks, and good luck!


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