How many of you go to the gym and do an upper body day, then a lower body day?  I know personally, with how busy my schedule was in the last year, I have had to modify my workouts to be short and efficient.

Therefore, I had to make sure I was doing exercises that were activating important muscles and giving me the results that I want. For me, those are: mental health, postural control, muscle activation/blood flow, spinal stability, and muscle tone.

You may have different goals, such as relief from work, weight loss, or weight gain, or social hour, or helping maintain healthy mental status. Whatever your goals are, I highly encourage people to choose upper body exercises that will help your joints, muscles, and nerves LONG TERM.

So I have chosen my 5 top upper body exercises here!  If you are in a time crunch most days and are not sure what to do for your upper body, you can start with these!

  1. LAT PULL-DOWNS. These exercises are great for activating, toning, and strengthing a large muscle that runs down your back and into your shoulder: the latissimus dorsi muscle, pictured below. This muscle is important for spinal and shoulder stability and postural control.
    • I personally use this exercise in my office for many patients. Several patients have noted that it has helped their day to day posture and reduced the tension they feel in their shoulders.
    • I suggest doing this exercise with moderately challenging weights for 8-12 repetitions for 3-4 sets when you are in the gym!

2. DUMBBELL BENT OVER ROWS. When I say the exercise “ROW”- each one of you may think of something different. However, when I refer to rows, I like to refer to the exercise in which you lean forward at the hips and pull dumbbells up in a rowing motion. I do this because the row is a challenge against gravity while also forcing you to engage your core to hinge at your hips properly.

Not only are the lats activated here, but important shoulder stabilizing muscles are activated: the middle/lower trapezius, teres major, infraspinatus and rhomboids. This exercise does, however, put load on the lumbar spine and is not recommended for those with active low back complaints until evaluated otherwise!·

I suggest performing this exercise progressively with heavier dumbbells and increasing the repetitions from sets of 5 or 6 up to sets of 12 or 15.

3. PUSH-UPS. These exercises can be intimidating at first. Push-ups involve handling the body’s own weight which is very important!  I tend to perform these in sets of 10 repetitions.

Regular floor push-ups involve activating the pec muscles, serratus anterior (an important stabilizing muscle), and triceps. I try to use push-ups in most of my upper body workouts so that I can continue to perform push-ups for the next 40 years!

4. ARNOLD PRESSES WITH BICEP CURLS. I want to get the most bang for my buck when performing exercises and that is why THIS is one of my favorites. I start out with a bicep curl and then add the Arnold shoulder press.

The muscles activated include the biceps, triceps, and the anterior/posterior/lateral deltoid muscles. Utilizing all of the deltoid muscles in one exercise is great for stabilizing the shoulder!

5.INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS. While the typical barbell chest press is praised, I find that many patients have limits within their shoulders and using the dumbbells allows the shoulders to move comfortably and stably within their range of motion. The shoulders have a greater ability to move with the dumbbell and this helps patients work these muscles safely and slowly increase their weights.

The muscles worked here are the pectoralis, anterior deltoid, and the triceps. I perform these in sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for 3-4 sets.

In summary: if you are in a rush and need a quick upper body workout, these are my highly suggested exercises to make your workout efficient and effective!

If you need more guidance or these exercises cause pain, please schedule a discovery call with me to see if our office can help you!  *386-200-9367*

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