Upper Body Workout For Mass & Strength
This training program is suitable for those who want to train the entire upper body for both muscle growth and muscle strength.
The training program ensures that both the large muscles and the smaller muscles are trained. The exercises are made up of multi-joint exercises and isolation exercises, and provide a complete training program for the upper body.
Studies have shown that the entire musculature in the upper body (delta, pecs and lats) consists on average of a 50:50 mix of type 1 and type 2 muscle fibres. To train the upper body as effectively as possible, you should therefore choose exercises that consist of both high and low speeds, and heavy to moderate weights. In the training program for the upper body, we choose two exercises per muscle group (one multi-joint and one isolation exercise). In this way, you train the muscle fibers throughout the entire muscle.
Set x Reps
Video of Exercies
Bench Press Barbell
4 x 4-8
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
4 x 4-8
Wide Grip Pull Up
4 x 4-8
4 x 10-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
4 x 10-12
One Arm Row Dumbbell
4 x 10-12
Combination of multi-joint and isolation exercises
For the heaviest exercises, we choose multi-joint exercises that cover several muscles at once. These exercises ensure that you get "a lot for your money". The multi-joint exercises stimulate large parts of the muscle mass at once, while at the same time it is beneficial for hormone production which regulates the metabolism, muscle growth, insulin response, etc. Such exercises should take place in rep range 4-8.
You will then carry out isolation exercises in rep range 8-12. These can further increase muscle growth, both by triggering the growth of new muscle fibers and by giving the muscles a larger volume, which in turn is positive for muscle growth.
Find the right starting weight
To find the right starting weight, start with a relatively heavy weight that you know you can lift controlled. Then you increase by 0.5kg until you can perform the exercise with good technique, while at the same time you have at least 2-3 repetitions to spare when the last set ends.
The exercises that give you a stronger upper body
We start with a normal flat bench press. This exercise maximizes the activation of the pectoralis (the large chest muscle). If you want to isolate the upper part of the pectoralis, you can increase the incline on the bench to 20-30 degrees.
As an isolation exercise, we choose a variation of flyes. This exercise also activates a larger part of the upper part of the pectoralis, but unlike the incline bench, flyes will also be a better exercise for the shoulders.
For the back, we choose a vertical plus a horizontal exercise. Pull-ups or Chin-ups are two exercises that both largely activate large amounts of muscle fibers in the latissimus, but also several muscles in the back. Many will find variations of body lifts challenging, and if you struggle to complete the exercise, you can use pull-downs at the start. EMG measurements (measurements that show the activity in different muscle fibers) have shown that pull-downs activate almost the same amount of muscle fibers as pull-ups if you use a heavy enough load.
As an isolation exercise, we do a variant of rowing. You can use either forward-leaning rowing or seated rowing in a cable machine. Both of these exercises have been shown to provide at least as much muscle activation as pull-ups/pull-downs, and are a great exercise to top off your training session.
Any variation of the incline chest press, preferably the incline dumbbell press. The incline dumbbell press has been shown to be an effective multi-joint exercise for the deltoid muscle. By using dumbbells, you will activate stabilizing muscles in the shoulder and chest muscles to a greater extent. These are muscles that you would not be able to get hold of using normal barbells.
Then you do a side lift, either with manuals or with a cable. This isolation exercise is very effective for the middle part of the deltoid muscle.
Begin slowly so that you become familiar with the exercises and know with yourself what you are capable of lifting. Increase gradually for each session, but no more than you are able to complete the exercises with good control. As a rule of thumb, we can say that the weight increase can happen relatively quickly for the multi-joint exercises, while for the isolation exercises it should happen much more slowly. 2.5 kg extra in incline bench you hardly notice, but 2.5 kg extra in flyes you definitely will.