Strengthening The Upper Body


Written by Andy Chasse’ in Exercise
Viewed by 19 readers since 07-07-2009

In today’s world, a strong and intimidating upper body seems to be every teenage athlete’s dream. They all want big guns and a chest large enough to stretch any size shirt. Although the previous description isn’t just going to appear one morning, with a little effort and attention to detail it might just be realistic a year down the road.

It is important to understand the complexity of the upper body. It is comprised of the shoulders, chest, back, triceps, biceps, forearms, and the list goes on. Because of the sheer amount of muscle groups that make up this area, the upper body must be approached from a variety of angles to hit maximum potential. Each of the most important groups must be targeted individually to attain proper balance, ensure progression, and avoid injury.

1. Chest. The pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, and serratus anterior make up this region. While these muscles may be targeted in a number of ways, flat and incline pressing are a couple of the best options available.

2. Biceps. The biceps are responsible for flexing the elbow and are comprised of the two biceps brachii heads and the brachialis. There are multiple movements that may be used to strengthen the biceps. Curls are the most popular, of course. However, pull-ups, chin-ups, and rowing variations are also great biceps builders.

3. Triceps. The muscle located on the back of the arm is the triceps. This muscle is made up of three heads and allows for extension of the elbow. The triceps are used in a variety of motions including both horizontal and vertical pressing, extensions, and pushdowns.

4. Lower Back. This particular area is one of the most tender parts of the human body and should be treated with extra care and caution. The erector spinae make up most of the lumbar spine and are present in a number of exercises. The squat and deadlift are two of the most important strengthening movements for the lower back. Hyperextensions and glute-ham raises may also be used. A strong lower back is necessary for strong abdominals.

5. Upper Back. The levator scapulae, trapezius, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi are all thrown into this section. These muscles allow for movement of the cervical spine, thoracic spine, and scapula. Without a strong upper back, progress will be slow and stubborn. Both vertical and horizontal rowing variations coupled with deadlifts once a week will build a strong upper back in no time. Shrugs may be used to specifically target the trapezius.

6. Shoulders. Now we’re looking at the commonly injured rotator cuff complex and the deltoids. The deltoids come into play during all types of pressing and function as a main mover in overhead work. As the name implies, the rotator cuff complex primarily functions to control rotation at the shoulder joint. External and internal rotations, face pulls, and cuban raises should be enough to keep the rotator cuff muscles strong and healthy.

7. Abdominals. Without a set of strong abdominals, the entire body suffers. All movement comes from the core. If the core isn’t strong enough to stabilize that movement, it fails and you don’t progress. Train the rectus abdominus and transversus abdominus with alternating crunch, sit-up, and leg raising movements. Focus on the internal and external obliques, the twisting muscles, with leg twist variations and russian ball twists.

8. Forearms. This is a region that many neglect. The forearms are made up of the brachioradialis and various wrist extensors and flexors. These muscles are often trained simultaneously with the muscles of the arm and upper back during rowing and curling exercises. Hammer curls, a palms in variation to the traditional dumbbell curl, puts a great deal of stress on the brachioradialis, the major forearm muscle.

Train all of these aspects with balance and intensity and the entire upper body will inflate before you even realize it!


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