Let’s be real. Upper-body training is the reason why most gym-goers skip leg day. The pump, the adrenaline and the satisfaction of lifting weights using your upper-body is unparalleled.

What is the fastest way to build my upper-body?

Keep in mind the following tips for the strongest muscles:

  • Increase your rep weight – the greater the mass of your lifting, the larger your muscle size. Don’t push yourself too hard, but make sure you are slowly increasing your max.
  • Train at least 3x per week – research has shown that it is not necessary to lift everyday to obtain substantial gains, those who lifted 5 times a week saw the same gains as those who did 3-4 times a week. Your body needs time to repair.

The tough exercises here come into play. Push ups, pull-ups, and everything in between. Here is a compilation of upper-body exercises to help you create or modify your routine.

man with the dumbbells
#1 Bench Press

Oh, the classic. Bench pressing is single handedly the most efficient, valuable exercise you can do to build your upper-body.

Lie flat on a bench, feet flat on the floor, and back on the bench. Move your arms to chest height. Breathe out and lift up until your elbows are fully extended.

Main muscles worked: Pectoralis major (chest), anterior deltoids (back-upper chest), triceps (arms) and stabilizing muscles (core).

#2 Inclined Bench Press

So good it has different variations..

Set your bench from a 35 to a 45 degree angle. Lie on the bench, feet flat on the floor and push out. Remember that the dumbbells need to be at shoulder level.

Main muscles worked: pectoralis major (chest), anterior deltoids (back-upper chest), triceps (back-arms), and stabilizer muscles (core).

#3 Push Up

Place your hands slightly wider than the width of your shoulder on the floor and stretch your legs behind you. Breathe out and push yourself until you are nearly touching the floor and your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Take three seconds to lower down and press back up for two seconds.

Main muscles worked: pectoralis major (chest), deltoids (shoulders), triceps (back-arms), cores, serratus anterior (left and right back muscle).

#4 Bent-over row

You’re gonna need some dumbbells for this one. Get your preferred weight and stand tall. Keep your arms at the same position and then – engage your core, slightly bend your knees, and bend your back so it’s at a 90 degree angle from the floor. Slightly raise your elbows, squeeze your shoulders and pull up. Slowly lower your arms, rinse and repeat.

Main muscles worked: latissimus dorsi (back), trapezius (upperback), rhomboids (upper-neck back) and stabilizers.

#5 Standing Bicep Curls

Gotta love the dumbbells. Remember to not push yourself too much with the weights, somewhere you feel comfortable, but still challenging yourself. Stand tall and slightly set your knees a little bit wider than your shoulders. Keep your core and your back straight and pull up with your biceps. Make sure your shoulders stay in place.

Main muscles worked: biceps (front-arms), brachialis (middle-arm), brachioradialis (middle-arm), and stabilizer muscles (core).

#6 Arnold Press

A gym classic, and a favorite. This lifting exercise works all your deltoid muscles at the same time. In here we are doing a corkscrew motion – Get a pair of dumbbells, keep your elbows close to you, face your palms towards you. This is your starting position. As you pull the dumbbells above your head, rotate your palms so they face away from your body. Lower down to the original position and repeat.

Main muscles worked: all deltoids (shoulders), serratus anterior(back) and triceps (back-arm).

#7 Pullup

Find yourself a bar, grab it shoulder-width apart (could also be slightly wider) and core embraced, pull yourself up. Make sure your chin is at level with the bar and slowly go down. Rinse and repeat.

Main muscles worked: latissimus dorsi (lowerback), trapezius (upper-back), thoracic erector spinae (back muscles) and stablizers (core).