An upper-body exercise routine sculpts your arms, chest, back and abdominal muscles. Toning your upper body gives you confidence, helps burn calories, and increases your strength and endurance. Here are tips for building an upper-body exercise routine.
The first tip in an upper body workout routine is to work your lower body too. If you're currently doing so, keep it up. Work upper body workouts into your normal routine. While you may cut back on lower body workouts, don't eliminate them entirely or cut back on them too much. Any good workout regimen includes balance. Don't stress one area over another.
While there's nothing wrong with exercise machines, free weights and dumbbells will give you a better workout. You might need a personal trainer to watch your form the first couple of times, but once you've got the movement down, they're even easier to use than machines since you don't have to worry about making adjustments to the seat or height settings. Free weights and dumbbells force you to use more, smaller muscles to balance the weight. It's something you aren't even aware of as you're doing the exercises.
Experts say you should select a weight that's heavy enough so that you can only complete a desired number of repetitions (reps). For example, if your goal is muscle building, you would aim for six to eight reps. if it's endurance or toning, you'd aim for 12 to 16 reps. the last two reps should be difficult to complete. A word of warning: this is where injury can become a problem, so pay attention to your body and don't select to heavy of a weight. It's best to spend a week or so getting used to weight training before attempting to maximize the amount of weight you lift.
Don't increase your weight too much too fast. Let the number of repetitions you can do with the weight be your guide. Don't suddenly add 10 pounds to the weight you lift because you've had some great workouts. Err on the side of adding less weight. You can always increase it as you progress.
Work on your large muscle groups (the chest and back) first. You'll be lifting heavier weights to work these muscle groups, so you want your arms to be fresh and ready to lift. You can work your entire upper body during one session, or you can split your workouts up according to your muscle groups. For example, you could work your chest and back on Monday, your biceps and triceps on Tuesday, and your abs on Wednesday. This would give you two workouts per week for each muscle group, with is adequate.
Like any other form of exercise, you'll need to take days off and vary your routine in order to avoid overuse injuries. A good rule of thumb is to work your upper body about two or three times a week, and never on consecutive days. This is another reason to keep lower body workouts a priority in your routine. They can help fill in on your days off.