Once you have some experience in the gym, you might leave full-body routines behind and split your visits between upper- and lower-body days. If that sounds like you and you’re looking for a new upper-body routine, try this session shared by personal trainer Ella-Mae Rayner (who British readers may recognize as Comet from Gladiators). It will strengthen your chest, shoulders, traps and triceps, as well as other muscles in the arms and back.
It’s one for the gym because you start with the bench press, then move on to the shoulder press machine, over to the dumbbell rack and finish at the cable machine.
Take a look at Rayner's Instagram post below where she demonstrates each move.
A photo posted by on
Your shoulders are made to work hard during session so it’s vital that you warm them up. Use this shoulder warm-up routine if you don’t have an established drill.
Like many of the best upper-body workouts, the workout begins with the bench press. It’s a challenging barbell exercise and you want to perform it correctly. The expert pointers in this guide to proper bench press form can help if your technique is a bit rusty. We also have guides to the dumbbell and cable machine exercises. Click any of the exercise titles below for form guides.
- Lateral raise form guide
- Front raise form guide
- Upright row form guide
- Face pull form guide
- Triceps press-down form guide
Rayner has provided a rep range for each exercise, and we recommend starting with the lowest number of reps and choosing a weight that makes the final reps of each set a challenge. The next time you hit the gym to train your upper body, repeat the workout and add another rep to each set. Keep repeating the workout and adding reps until you hit the top of the rep range. The next time you repeat the workout, increase the weight and start at the bottom of the rep range again. This is one very effective way to build muscle using progressive overload.
If you’re faced with a busy gym and will have to wait to use equipment, secure a bench near the dumbbell rack and get to work with this dumbbell upper-body workout instead.
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Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.