If you’re a man who’s trying to pack on some muscle and look lean and mean, you’ll need to develop some serious muscles and build a solid upper body.
A well-rounded upper body means providing equal attention to each part of your upper half, comprising your back, chest, arms and shoulders. These four parts are the primary components of your upper body. They can further be broken down into several smaller parts that you can isolate and target individually.
As for pull exercises, there are several upper body variations you can try, which can target your back, biceps and shoulders. To build a strong upper body, make sure to train your lats, delts, rhomboids, traps, upper back and all three heads of your biceps, all of which can be targeted with the following five exercises:
Pull Exercises For A Strong Upper Body
1) Barbell Rows: Barbell Rows are a favourite amongst bodybuilders and powerlifters alike, especially for building strength and muscle in your back.
It targets the entire posterior chain and can be used to train your lats, upper back and lower back. You can adjust your grip as per your need, and change which muscles you target.
A wider grip engages your traps and rhomboids more, while a neutral grip keeps your upper and lower back in the mix. A narrower grip will place the load on your lats, resulting in a wider, thicker back. If all-round growth and development of the back is your goal, add this exercise to your regime.
2) Barbell Upright Rows: While shoulders are generally trained with chest and triceps, upright rows are an upper body workout that involves a ‘pulling’ motion, thus checking all the boxes to qualify for this list.
Upright rows can be used to build muscle in your upper back as well as shoulders while providing a deep range of motion and solid muscle contraction. Newcomers tend to mess up this exercise, primarily due to muscle imbalances in their deltoids. That results in a slanted barbell, which is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injury.
To perform this exercise, ensure that you’re using equal force from your left and right shoulder and not using one part to grab most of the weight.
3) Barbell Shrugs: Shrugs are the best way to build enormous amounts of muscle in your trapezius, also known as traps.
Big traps can complement your shoulders, while small traps can make you look smaller than you are. Barbell shrugs allow you to lift heavier, resulting in more load on the body. That inevitably leads to more muscular hypertrophy, or in simple words, better muscle gain.
Strong traps are a key element of a strong upper body, as they act as a connector between the back and shoulders, and stabilise your spine and core.
4) Lat Pull-Downs: Lat pull-downs are the single most important exercise when it comes to isolating your latissimus dorsi. Strong and muscular lats can give you a V-taper by enlarging the back muscles to make your waist look slimmer.
Just like other exercises, you can use the lat pull-down machine to target different areas of your lats. A wider grip will target your upper lats, while a narrow underhand grip will hit your lower lats more efficiently.
You can mix and match or even alternate between the two, for an intense lat pump and bigger, stronger muscles.
5) Bicep Curls: To build a strong and even upper body, training your back and shoulders is great but not enough. To accentuate those features, while also building muscle in a very vital body part, you must train your biceps.
Bicep curls offer you a myriad of options to choose from. You can use either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells, a supinated or neutral grip. You can stand, sit, or push yourself against a wall. The possibilities are endless.
To build strong biceps, you need to target all three heads: the long head, short head and lateral head. For your long head, try incline bicep curls, as they are the best exercise when it comes to long head isolation.
For the short head, try concentration curls or preacher curls. Performing a combination of long head and short head training exercises can help you build strong, bulky biceps and improve your overall upper body.
A solid upper body is crucial for overall strength and aesthetics. It not only looks good but makes you feel good as well.
There are hundreds of options out there for you to try; just find what’s optimal for your growth. A well-rounded physique will ensure that no muscle is left out and that each body part gets the attention it deserves.
Q. How often do you train upper body?