When it comes to upper body workouts, a lot of people turn to gym equipment to target specific areas or muscles—but those aren't always available. And if you work in front of a computer all day (like I do), there's a good chance you need to be taking care of your upper body more—especially your back. Having a strong back helps maintain a good posture. Spending hours with your shoulders folding forward and your back rounded can have long-term negative effects.
Most back and shoulder exercises also engage the arms and sometimes the core, so add these moves to your fitness routine for an effective upper body workout.
The Best Upper Body Workouts
Upper Body Workouts: Bent Over Row
Your starting position is with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Arms should be at the sides. Hinge forward at the hips and make sure your butt is pushed back. Bend your knees and look at the ground. Make sure there isn't any strain on your neck at this point. With your elbows tucked, execute a row by pulling the weights toward your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades and hold for two breaths. As you're doing this move, your elbows should be going slightly behind you. When you extend your arms toward the floor, you've completed one rep. Repeat this move 10 to 15 times.
Upper Body Workouts: Triceps Overhead Press
In a standing position, hold a weight on each hand, with your arms to the sides. Extend your arms until they're above your head and lock your elbows in place. Then, with a controlled motion, lower the weights behind your head. Move your arms back up, this time, straightening them. That's one rep. Make sure your core and rib cage are engaged so you're not arching your back. Complete 15 to 20 reps of this move.
Upper Body Workouts: Reverse Fly
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, still holding a weight in each hand and your arms to your sides. This time, your palms should be facing in. Bend your elbows slightly, and with your abs tight, move forward, push your butt back. Next, bend your knees slightly. Your neck should be in a comfortable position; everything from your neck to your tailbone should be aligned. Then raise your arms to the sides, until they're at the same level as your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top. Do this steadily. Lower your arms back to starting position. Execute this 15 to 20 times before moving to the next workout.
Upper Body Workouts: Diamond Push-Up
Did you really think we weren't going to include some type of push-up move in an article about upper body workouts? Get in a high plank position. Position your hands in a diamond shape on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be above your wrists and your legs extended behind you. Both your glutes and your core should be engaged. When you're in a comfortable position, bend your elbows and steadily lower your chest to the floor. Push your body back up as you straighten your arms. You just completed one rep! If you're a beginner at push-ups, you don't have to start in a plank position; the easier option is to drop your knees to the floor. As long as you're not arching your back or loosening your core, you should be fine. Try to complete 10 to 12 reps of this exercise.
Upper Body Workouts: Overhead Pull-Apart with a Resistance Band
As the name suggests, you'll be needing a resistance band for this move. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Holding the band, raise your arms overhead and move your hands toward each other. Palms must be facing forward, with your hands less than a foot away from each other. To make sure you're doing this exercise correctly, there should be some tension in the band (but make sure it isn't taut). Pull it apart as you lower your arms to shoulder-level so your body is in a T position. The band should have a small amount of tension, but not be taut. The resistance band should be behind you (though some people have opted to do it in front of them). Go back to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Take a mat and lie on your stomach. Your arms should be extended in front of you, with your legs behind you. Your hands should be flat on the floor. As always, keep your abs and glutes tight as you lift your upper and lower body off the ground. Your neck should be aligned with your spine throughout the entire move. Hold this position for one breath then slowly lower back down to the ground. Do 10 reps of this workout.