The Upper Body seems to be of the utmost concern to most gym goers. In some people, you can even see how much time they spent working on it, as opposed to their lower bodies.

Muscle load and strength-building should be the focus of these exercises. While it may not seem like much is going on, they require a lot of tension in the muscles and stability at the core. It is necessary to avoid any momentum and try to perform upper body exercises on a slow tempo: tense and intense.

It also requires a lot of caution, especially concerning your lower back, shoulders and shoulder joints. A lot could go wrong. And while it’s easy to get a shoulder injury, it’s quite hard to recover from one. Once it happens, it becomes a long-term issue to deal with and it can hinder your overall performance. The risk of relapse also becomes very high.



Barbell Upright Row


This is one of those very effective exercises that you rarely see in the gym. It’s a multi-joint movement that works your front, middle, and rear deltoids if performed correctly.


How to:

  1. Hold the bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Standing straight, place your feet slightly less than shoulder width apart and your hands slightly wider than your shoulder width.
  3. Holding the straight position of your body and only using the power of your deltoids, pull the bar up to your chin. Keep the bar close to your body at all times, and let the elbows lead the direction you’re pulling.
  4. Try to hold for a second and squeeze your shoulders.
  5. Return to the starting position while lowering the bar.
  6. Repeat!



Common mistakes:

  • Narrow grip – a very common mistake is not paying enough attention to the way you’re holding the bar. A narrow grip will target the trapezius instead of the deltoids and it can cause shoulder joint impingement.   
  • Momentum – this will cause you to jerk back and forth and pull too fast. It will break your form, block any muscle assistance and it can cause damage to the lower back and rotator cuffs injuries.


The best way to stimulate your shoulders with this exercise is to raise the bar so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor, and your elbows higher than your hands.

As this exercise stimulates your shoulders greatly and puts a great load of tension on them, strains and sores are a risk to be aware of. In order to prevent any pain during workout, and more especially, post-workout, consider wearing compression gear which targets the muscles you load. You need to be provided support to the deltoids, to increase your performance, and with muscle protection against injury.



Underhand Grip Barbell Bent Row


To strengthen your upper back muscles and straighten your posture try adding this torso V-shaping exercise to your Upper Body Workout Routine. By pulling the weight to your chest, your rear deltoids, rhomboids, and trapezius have to move the load. The underhand grip also works your arm as well.



During this exercise, keep your torso bent to a 75 degrees angle, then pull the bar inwards to your lower abdomen. This will stimulate your belly and your lats. Keep your back straight, don’t swing back and forth and don’t allow any momentum. It will seem harder this way, but it is the right way to actually get any sort of work done to your muscles.

As this exercise targets a lot of your upper body muscles, we recommend you do a pre-exercise warm-up. For a faster warm-up, wear a compression t-shirt for a greater power output. It will also provide you with full torso protection and pain-free compression, both during and post-workout.


How to:

  1. Slightly bend the knees and bend over with a straight back.
  2. With an underhand grip, hold onto the bar.
  3. Pull the par to your waist into the lower abdomen, keeping your arms and elbows close to the body at all times.
  4. Do a controlled negative by lowering the bar until your arms and shoulders are stretched downwards.
  5. Repeat!


Common mistakes:

  • Bending – bending or curving your back will hinder your performance. Make sure you keep proper form and try to maintain a straight back during the exercise so that the weight won’t put too much pressure on the joints. Let your upper back to all the work.
  • Head placement – in order to avoid neck damage and injury, make sure you are not staring at yourself in the mirror or looking around as you perform this exercise. Neck and back injuries are too common, so it’s important that as you perform the Bent Row, to simply look at the floor, as your head naturally tends to go that way with this movement.   



Triceps Dip


This is a great compound body-weight exercise for your chest, shoulders, back and arm muscles. You do this by raising your body unto two dip bars until your arms are straight, and then lowering your body until your shoulders are higher than your elbows.

Contrary to the name, triceps dips don’t work your triceps alone. This exercise inflicts a great amount of pain on the abdomen and chest if not performed correctly. The key is proper form and full torso compression. This kind of protection will support the load on your targeted muscles and relieve post-workout pain.

Another tip to stress the chest less and target your triceps more is to make sure your torso remains upright at all times, and when you do the negative, lower yourself until your arms are parallel to the floor.


 How to:

  1. Make sure your bars are placed shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold on to them as you raise yourself with arms straight, shoulders parallel to the hands and hips straight at all times.
  3. Lower your body until you feel a slight shoulder stretch. Keep your arms and elbows close to the body at all times.
  4. Push your body up until arms are completely straight.
  5. Repeat!


Common mistakes:

  • Elbow placement - avoid a poor elbow positioning. If you let your elbows go on the sides as they tend to, the tricep dip is not focused on triceps anymore and it takes the load off of them. This will also make you susceptible to shoulder and joint injury.
  • Leaning forward – if you lean forward this turn from a triceps dip to a chest dip. Make sure that you keep a straight back and sit upright. Do not lean forward if you want to target your triceps.



Always pay attention to your form, your lower back, and your shoulders. Exercise with proper form, full torso protection and remember to stay within your body frame. If it is challenging to perform any of these 3 upper body exercises, remember that you need to warm up pre-exercise. That means you will loosen your tight muscles, or help prepare the weak ones to assist you in your workout.


These are definitely not the most common exercises at the gym, but we promise they are most effective for your Ultimate Upper Body workout. It is very important to do these exercises the right way, otherwise, the risk of damaging your lower back is too high.


Use proper form and full torso protection, and you’ll have a V-shaped upper body in no time! Practice makes perfect - don't be too hard on yourself and take it easy. As long as you keep your focus, you are certain to achieve some amazing results!

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