Your guide to a new upper body
27June/2014

Your guide to a new upper body

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Your guide to a new upper body

See your progress soar by swapping your stale upperbody workout for a unique plan that you create!

BY MYATT MURPHY, CSCS, AUTHOR OF ULTIMATE DUMBBELL GUIDE | PHOTOGRAPHY PAUL BUCETA

HERE’S A FITNESS TRUTH YOU may know but never like to hear: no matter how effective your exercise routine may be, over time – and it doesn’t take much longer than a few weeks – it becomes less and less effective. Quite simply, your muscles come to know your routine as well as a 30-something knows the dialogue of Dirty Dancing. What that means for you is sluggish results – definitely not the time of your life.

But activating a different combination of muscle fibres doesn’t mean a lot of effort – just the right series of exercises and an easy-to-understand formula. This upper-body plan has just that, letting you pick and choose your exercises so you’re always guaranteed a fresh routine. Better still, this program also changes up your reps, allowing you to incorporate a different percentage of type I and type II muscle fibres (slow- and fast-twitch, respectively) to maximise your fitness potential. This is important because type I fibres are pros at drawn-out endurance work, while type II fibres are better at quick, explosive  movements; improving both will help your muscles perform and thrive under any training circumstance.

Your recipe for success

1. Turn up the heat Always warm up by doing at least five minutes of lowintensity activity, such as jogging.
2. Mix and match your ingredients Select one exercise from each group (A through G) and perform them in order. Once you’ve selected an exercise,
you cannot choose it for your next workout – instead, pick from the exercises that are left in each section until they are all used up. Once you’ve
performed three workouts, you’ll have your entire exercise bank to select from once again. Try to make the order different whenever possible.
3. Add the spices You can make every workout unique by applying one of four different set/rep/ rest schemes: a) Four sets of six to eight reps, with 90 seconds of rest between sets. Finish all required sets before moving on to the next exercise. b) Three sets of 10 to 12 reps, with 60 seconds between sets, doing all sets before going on to the next exercise. c) Three sets of 12 to 15 reps, resting for 30 seconds between sets. Again, do all sets before moving on to the next exercise.
d) Cycle through one set of eight to 12 reps of each exercise, performing them back-to-back without rest. After completing all eight moves, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat the circuit one to two more times. Keep in mind that the plank is a timed exercise, and only the set and rest schemes will apply.
4. Time it right Don’t race through any of the exercises. Make a point of performing the move for a count of two on the upward motion and a count of two as you lower.
5. Let sit before serving Finally, rest at least 48 hours between each upper-body workout, but no more than 72 hours.

YOUR EXERCISE GROUPS

Each group targets a specific body part. Your shoulders, chest, back, arms and even your abs will be hit during each DIY routine!

Group a: Parallel dip; Dumbbell incline press; Barbell bench press
Group b: Seated cable row; Bent-over row; Lat pulldown
Group c: Hyperextension; Superman; Good morning
Group d: Arnold press; Seated barbell military press; Smith machine shoulder press
Group e: Reverse curl; Barbell curl; Dumbbell hammer curl
Group f: Single-arm overhead dumbbell extension; Triceps pushdown; Lying cross-body dumbbell extension
Group g: Hanging knee twist; Plank; Medicine-ball crunch

GROUP A:

Dumbbell incline press

 

TARGET MUSCLES: pectoralis major (clavicular aspect)

SET UP: Sit on an incline bench set to about 40 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your upper arms in line with your shoulders and hands
pointing towards the ceiling, palms facing forward.

ACTION: Extend your arms upward until they are straight but unlocked. Return to the start to complete one rep, then immediately repeat.

 

Parallel dip

 

TARGET MUSCLES: pectoralis major (sternal aspect)

SET UP: Position yourself at the parallel bars, with your arms straight, wrists below your shoulders and your ankles crossed behind you as shown.

ACTION: Bend your arms to lower your body; stop when your upper arms are about parallel to the floor. Slowly straighten your arms to return to the start.

 

 

Barbell bench press

 

TARGET MUSCLES: pectoralis major (sternal aspect)

SET UP: Lie face-up on a flat bench, holding a loaded barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip a dumbbell few cm above your chest.

ACTION: Extend your arms, pressing the barbell above you until your arms are straight but unlocked. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.

   

 

GROUP B:

 

Seated cable row

 

TARGET MUSCLES: trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi

SET UP: Sit upright at a cable row station, with your feet against the platform. Hold the handle with your arms extended in front of you.

ACTION: Keeping your torso tall, pull the handle toward your  stomach. Hold momentarily, then extend your arms to return to the starting
position.

   

 

Bent-over row

 

TARGET MUSCLES: trapezius, latissimus dorsi

SET UP: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Hinge forward from your hips until your torso is about 45 degrees to the ground.

ACTION: Bend your arms to draw the weights up along your sides, until they are just below your ribcage. Slowly extend your arms, then repeat.

 

 

Lat pulldown

 

TARGET MUSCLES: latissimus dorsi

SET UP: Sit at the lat pulldown station. Grab the bar with a wider than shoulder-width grip and place your feet flat on the floor.

ACTION: With feet planted and a slight arch in your lower back, pull the bar down toward your chest, and let your elbows flare out to the sides. Extend your arms, then repeat.

   

 

GROUP C:

Hyperextension

 

TARGET MUSCLES: erector spinae

SET UP: Position your thighs against the padding of a hyperextension bench; bend forward to direct your head toward the floor.

ACTION: Raise your torso until it is in line with your lower body; extend slightly further if you can. Slowly lower back to the start.

   

 

Superman

 

TARGET MUSCLES: erector spinae

SET UP: Lie face-down on a mat, with your arms and legs extended.

ACTION: Slowly lift your chest and legs from the ground at the same time. Lower both back to the ground using control.

 

 

Good morning

 

TARGET MUSCLES: erector spinae

SET UP: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a loaded barbell across your upper back.

ACTION: Hinge forward from your hips until your torso is parallel to the ground. Slowly extend to the start.

   

 

GROUP D:

 

Arnold press

 

TARGET MUSCLES: deltoids

SET UP: Stand and hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your chest, palms facing your body.

ACTION: Press the weights up and open your arms, bringing your upper arms slightly lower than your shoulders. Extend your arms to bring the weights above your head, then reverse the move fluidly to return to the start.

 

 

Seated barbell military press

 

TARGET MUSCLES: deltoids

SET UP: Sit on the edge of a bench. Hold a barbell with an overhand shoulder-width grip in front of your neck.

ACTION: Press the barbell above your head by extending your arms until they are straight but not locked, then return to the starting position.

 

 

Smith machine shoulder press

 

TARGET MUSCLES: deltoids

SET UP: Position a bench with a high back at the Smith machine. Set the bar so that when you grab it, your arms are extended up. Sit and hold the bar with a shoulderwidth overhand grip, then unlock the bar from the machine by rotating your wrists.

ACTION: Slowly lower the bar until it is at chin level or lower. Extend your arms to return to the starting position.

 

 

GROUP E:

Reverse curl

 

TARGET MUSCLES: brachioradialis

SET UP: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a light barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing your body).

ACTION: Keeping your upper arms tight to your sides, bend your elbows to raise the bar toward your shoulders. Once you’ve reached the top,
reverse to bring your arms back to the start.

   

Barbell curl

 

TARGET MUSCLES: brachioradialis, biceps brachii

SET UP: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell in both hands with an underhand grip (palms facing forward).

ACTION: Flex your arms to raise the barbell toward your shoulders. Slowly lower to the start.

 

 

Dumbbell hammer curl

 

TARGET MUSCLES: brachioradialis, biceps brachii

SET UP: Sit at the end of a bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, with your palms facing in.

ACTION: Bend your elbows to lift the dumbbells toward your shoulders, then extend your arms to lower back to the start.

 

 

GROUP F:

Single-arm overhead dumbbell extension

 

TARGET MUSCLES: triceps brachii

SET UP: Sit on the edge of a bench holding a dumbbell in one hand, with your arm extended above your head.

ACTION: Keeping your upper arm still, bend your elbow to lower the dumbbell. Stop when your forearm is about parallel to the ground, then
extend your arm. Repeat to finish your set, then switch sides.

 

 

Triceps pushdown

 

TARGET MUSCLES: triceps brachii

SET UP: Stand in front of a high-pulley cable station with a bar attached. Hold it with an overhand grip, elbows bent and upper arms tight to your sides.

ACTION: Extend your arms to press the bar down, then slowly return to the start.

 

Lying crossbody dumbbell extension

 

TARGET MUSCLES: triceps brachii

SET UP: Lie face-up on a bench. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and extend your arm upwards so your wrist, elbow and shoulder are in line.

ACTION: Bend your elbow to direct the dumbbell across your chest and toward your opposite shoulder. Slowly extend to return to the start. When your set is through, repeat with your other arm.

   

 

GROUP G:

Hanging knee twist

 

TARGET MUSCLES: rectus abdominis, obliques

SET UP: Hang from a pull-up bar with hands wider than shoulder-width apart, legs extended toward the ground.

ACTION: Flex your hips and knees to raise your legs, directing both knees toward one side as shown. Return to the start, then repeat, this time twisting in the opposite direction. Work both sides equally during your set.

 

 

Plank

 

TARGET MUSCLES: transverse abdominis

SET UP: Start face-down on a mat. Press up onto your forearms and toes, keeping your elbows under your shoulders and your body straight.

ACTION: Hold this position for as long as you can; aim for 30 seconds at first, working up to 90 seconds. Watch that your hips don’t drop and your shoulders don’t creep up toward your ears.

 

Medicineball crunch

 

TARGET MUSCLES: rectus abdominis

SET UP: Lie face-up on a mat with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Hold a medicine ball with both hands and extend your arms above your chest.

ACTION: Contract your abs and raise your shoulders and upper back from the floor. Keep your arms straight and the ball pointing straight up as you move. Slowly lower back to the starting position.

 



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