Do you exercise day in and day out, but your arms refuse to grow? Or perhaps you’re trying to lose the flab? Then it’s time to tweak your workouts and add new movements to the mix!
Some of the best upper body exercises will not only tone your arms but also strengthen your neck, back, and core muscles. T-bar rows, pull-ups, bench presses, and other movements can make you stronger overall and shape your body from head to toe.
For best results, focus on compound exercises like the chest press. These movements engage nearly every muscle and ignite your metabolism. At the same time, they increase the release of anabolic hormones, leading to mass and strength gains.
Not sure where to start? Include these five exercises in your workout routine to build arm strength, shape your pecs, and tone your core!
1. Try Push-Up Variations
The humble push-up is one of the most effective yet overlooked upper body exercises. When done right, it hits all of the major muscle groups, including your chest, shoulders, back, abs, and legs.
This classic movement requires no equipment, so you can work out anytime, anywhere. With regular practice, pushups can help you build mass and strength.
But don’t limit yourself to the standard push-up.
Try the diamond pushup, alligator push-ups, pike push-ups, and other variations. This way, you’ll work your muscles from different angles and prevent plateaus.
2. Build a Chiseled Back with T-Bar Rows
T-bar rows are the key to strong back muscles. This movement engages the latissimus dorsi as well as your delts, biceps, abs, glutes, and hamstrings. After all, there’s a reason why it was one of Arnold’s favorite back exercises.
The downside is that it carries a high risk of injury. Therefore, it’s crucial to use proper lifting form.
Maintain a neutral spine and use a slow, controlled motion. Leave your ego at the door and increase the load gradually.
3. Deadlifts Increase Total Body Strength
If you had to choose just one exercise for your upper body, it should be the deadlift.
This multi-joint movement targets nearly every muscle, including your back, abs, traps, hamstrings, and arms. Over time, it builds total body strength, increases your endurance, and improves physical performance.
The deadlift may also help relieve lower back pain — when done with proper form. This compound exercise strengthens the muscles around your spine, which in turn, may help decrease the pain and reduce injury risk.
4. Get Stronger and Fitter with Pull-Ups
When was the last time you did pull-ups? This complex movement targets your back and shoulders while building core strength.
If you’re a newbie, use an assisted pull-up machine to decrease the load.
Experienced lifters, on the other hand, can make this movement more challenging by holding a dumbbell between their feet or wearing a weight belt or you could try resistance bands for pull ups.
Performing a pull-up is anything but easy, so you might not be able to do more than two or three reps in the beginning. Try these exercises to build arm muscle and gain the strength needed for pull-ups.
5. Add the Chest Press to Your Workout Routine
Another great exercise is the chest press. Most women often skip this movement, though. Big mistake!
The chest press isn’t just for guys. This multi-joint exercise builds overall strength, power, and stamina. It also improves functional fitness, making it easier to perform daily activities like pushing heavy doors or strollers.
If you’re an athlete, chest presses can help you perform better at your sport of choice, whether it’s swimming or basketball.
Discover the Best Upper Body Exercises
As you see, the best upper body exercises require little or no equipment and can be done just about anywhere.
Take the chest press, for example. If you don’t have a gym membership, use resistance bands for this movement. Better yet, get a set of adjustable dumbbells.
The same goes for pull-ups. Most sports equipment stores sell pull-up bars for home use. This handy piece of equipment costs just a few bucks and can last for years.
Looking for other workout tips? Browse our Fitness section for the best ways to keep fit on the go and take your home workouts to the next level!