Getting Back On It: Upper Workout

Had some time off to celebrate the festivities? Good! Sometimes a little bit of time away to reflect and recharge is exactly what we need to come back at full force. We would recommend getting introducing yourself back into the gym with either a full body workout or some form of upper/lower split. As all muscle groups should be equally rested, this allows you to get more ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of frequency. By going for a ‘bro split’, it might not be another week until you get round to training delts, for example.


Post-Christmas Plan of Attack:

Monday: lower

Tuesday: upper

Wednesday: off

Thursday: lower

Friday: upper

Saturday: off

Sunday: off

This very realistic split means that you can hit each muscle twice per week, with programming focussed around weak points. The 3 rest days may also be used for cardio to combat any unwanted weight gain. Separating cardio from training allows for better recovery, and for all of your energy and focus to be placed into one or the other.

As you progress, you may expand this to a 5 day split, such as: lower/push/pull/off/upper/lower/off and repeat.

Not know where to start? Find a killer session to use for one of your upper body workouts below.


Upper 1

Warm up: we would always recommend doing some light rotations and raises to warm the rotator cuffs before training upper body. There are also some excellent prehab exercises that can be done with bands to stabilise the area. Check youtube for some walk-throughs!

Exercise 1: Flat barbell bench

One of the 'big three', the bench press is an excellent exercise to focus on progressing over time. Sets of 5-8 are excellent to work on building strength as well as muscle.

Exercise 2: Unilateral plate row machine

Working one side at a time. With none moving arm, grip the pad tightly and secure body. No excessive twisting/throwing the weight. Weight should be challenging without form breaking down. Straps can be used to assist grip.

Exercise 3: DB shoulder press

Sat upright on a bench. Let elbows lower to 90 degrees/just below and press with all force coming from the delts. Control the movement all the way through.

Exercise 4: wide grip lat pulldown

Again, straps may be used if needed. Focus on feeling the contraction in the middle beck between the shoulder blades. Back should be slightly arched, do not throw body back to move the weight.

Exercise 5: pec fly machine

Controlled reps so tension is on the pecs all the way through. Perform in a mid rep range. Finish on a dropset to burnout.

Face pulls work the rear delts and traps.

Exercise 6: DB lateral raise superset alterating DB curls

10-12 reps of each.

Exercise 7: cable rope face pulls superset with tricep extensions

12-15 reps of each.

To finish: Ab exercise of choice. 3 sets, 12-20 reps.


Top Tip: supersets using one piece of equipment/in one area are a great way to have a productive workout in a busy January gym!

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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