Having a strong upper body is essential for your overall fitness. Strength training helps increase posture and can help transfer energy from your upper body down to your legs. By focusing on toning up your upper back and shoulder muscles, you are naturally helping to stabilize your upper body to prevent slouching and slumping in your posture.
This workout will use bench press and overhead press movements, which will work on a combination of strength, conditioning, as well as muscular hypertrophy. Your arms will feel like they weigh a hundred pounds after this workout!
First of all, make sure you complete a proper warm up before diving into this workout. That may consist of some cardio, and/or stretching, and/or foam rolling. When you get to the Bench Press and Row superset, be sure to allow yourself about 3-4 warm up sets. These sets should be gradually increased to help you find the weight you will use for the work sets.
Repeat this warm up process for Press and Pulldown superset as well.
To adjust this workout for your skill level there are a few things to consider:
Proper form is more important than an ego. You don’t want to be showing off and get hurt in the process. When completing this workout, remember to adhere to these correct forms for the following machines and exercises:
Start with the empty bar. Lie on the bench with your eyes directly under the bar. Take a full grip on the bar just wider than your shoulders. Un-rack the bar and get it over your shoulders. Begin by pulling your shoulder blades down toward your butt, take a big breath in and start to lower the bar toward your lower chest. Bend your elbows in toward your sides, keeping a vertical forearm and neutral wrists. Once the bar touches your lower chest you will then press the bar up and back so it finishes over your shoulders again.
Keep your back very straight, do not let your chest sink in or back round. When you pull the weight back, let your elbows come back around a 45 degree angle and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together until the handles are even with your chest.
Start with the empty bar, set up in a power rack near mid chest height. Grab the bar at shoulder width, push your elbows under the bar and un-rack the bar, taking a step backward with your feet shoulder width apart. Be sure you have neutral wrists and a vertical forearm (elbows slightly in front of the bar). Take a big breath in and lean your hips forward and pull your chin back, then press the bar straight up trying to brush your nose with the bar. When the bar gets overhead, stand up tall and shrug the bar at the top (push as far away as you can). Return the bar back to the starting position ensuring you keep a vertical forearm.
Start with fully extended arms, grip at shoulder width. When you initiate the pulldown, try to squeeze your scapula down towards your butt. End with the bar just below your chin, with vertical forearms. Return the bar to the fully extend arm position. Keep your knees pressed against the pad during the whole set.
Start with fully extended arms, grip at shoulder width. When you initiate the pull, try to squeeze your scapula down towards your butt. End with the bar just below your chin, with vertical forearms. Return to the fully extend arm position.
When setting up, be sure your arm pits are firmly into the top of the arm rest and your upper arm is flat on the rest. Once set up, keep a big chest/flat back when you curl the handles toward you. Squeeze them up till you cannot move the handles more.
If you have wider shoulders, move the handles to the out position. For narrow shoulders, move the handles to the in position. In the starting position try to get your upper arm parallel to the floor and at the extended position your whole arm should be vertical to the floor.
Begin lying on the floor. Put your hands just outside your shoulders and about nipple level. (Your forearm should be vertical). Tighten up your legs and core, then push away from the floor. At the top push as far away from the floor as you can. (Think flatten your back out). Slowly lower yourself back down and tap your chest to the floor and repeat. If this is too hard to do from your feet, simply leave your knees in contact with the floor.
You will need to use a Smith Machine for this exercise. Set the bar up around waist height. Lie on the ground with your chest underneath the bar, with your legs outstretched; grab the bar just outside shoulder width. Begin by pulling your shoulder blades down toward your butt, keeping your body in a straight line, take a big breath in and pull yourself up toward the bar. Try to touch your lower chest to the bar. (Same spot as bench press). If this is too hard, simply move the bar a bit higher and repeat.
Always focus on the form with each movement and rep. This is very important on all movements but be extra sure on the Bench Press and Overhead Press as this will be the heaviest pressing movement of the workout and they are being done with barbells not machines. If you cannot do push-ups from your feet properly be sure to regress the movement by simply dropping to your knees. Proper form is more important than an ego. Log your weights used and simply repeat this workout in a week or two to see how much better you have gotten. Make sure you stay active, eat enough food, and rest enough. All these factors will help you recover faster.