Repeating the same routine regularly is a great way to track your progress towards your fitness goals. And we have an amazing 30-minute upper body workout that you can come back to every week to measure the strength of your arms, back, chest and shoulders.
Is there a reason why this routine is worth repeating? It’s super complete and works almost every muscle in your upper body, certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison of Bodyspace Fitness in New York City tells SELF. These include the deltoids and rotator cuffs (shoulder muscles); pec minor and pec major (pectorals); lats and rhomboids (back muscles); and biceps and triceps (arm muscles).
The following dumbbell routine Jamison developed for SELF targets all of these key players with moves like oblique rows, overhead presses, pull-ups, and one-arm chest presses. It also provides extra work for the posterior deltoids, the small muscles at the back of the shoulders that many people forget to lift with a posterior deltoid.
Upper body strength is important for a variety of reasons, including facilitating everyday movements, but there’s another benefit that’s also important: It’s critical to good posture, Jamison says. Many of us spend much of the day in a hunched-over posture, and this leaning-forward position leaves our pecs tight and overworked and our back and shoulder muscles weak and overstretched. Focusing on developing balanced upper body strength can help improve both of these issues.
“By working your upper body, you mobilize your chest,” says Jamison. “And then you strengthen your upper back.” That combination of strength and mobility allows you to stand more upright and experience less pain overall, he explains.
A workout that not only engages all of those muscle groups, but also encourages you to keep building your strength might be just what you need to add to your strength training routine.
This upper body workout is simple: there are only five movements, and each one is performed for the same number of repetitions. It’s also easy to progress as your strength improves. You can add more reps, increase the weight held (a technique known as progressive overload), or follow the tips under each movement below to increase the difficulty.
If you decide to increase the weight, do it in small increments to reduce your risk of injury, says Jamison. Dumbbells generally come in 5 pound increments. So taking the next step would add a total of 10 pounds to your exercise. (Some adjustable dumbbells at the gym and at home increase in 2.5-pound increments, which can be especially helpful for exercises where you’d start with lighter weights, like rear shrugs.) to your reps reduce so you can complete your set with good form at your new weight.
If you decide to do this exercise once a week, you can track your progress to see how your strength is improving. For example, if you can do the recommended number of reps for your first workout, you might be able to add an extra one or two next time. Then, when you decide to increase your weight, pay attention to how many reps you’re doing with it; At first it will probably be less, but with each workout you can gradually increase it!