Everyone likes impressive square shoulders and big, rounded biceps, right? As I know from my years' training clients, men particularly tend to focus on their shoulders, biceps and chest.
An impressive upper body can be achieved through technically precise and regular exercise using an amount of weight that is realistic but challenging, though delivering the techniques involved requires an understanding of what they are, step by step.
The following combo’ is a good place to start in building shoulders and biceps and is achievable by beginners. So, if you want an upper body to be proud of, this is a good place to start.
Seated dumbbell overhead press
This exercise targets the anterior deltoid and is what is known as a ‘Push’ exercise (as you, well, push the weight away from the body).
Step by step:
Holding a pair of dumbbells, sit up straight on a bench.
Raise the dumbbells one at a time on each side, and hold them at shoulder height, with your palms facing forward.
Exhale as you press the dumbbells upward and inward until they almost touch over your head.
At the top of the movement, shrug your shoulders to raise the dumbbells even higher.
Inhale as you reverse the motions and lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
Repeat three or four times, as works for you.
Standing bicep dumbbell curls
The biceps curl is a well-known weight training exercise that works the muscles of the upper arm and, to a lesser extent, those of the lower arm. There is a reason why it is so popular - it delivers!
More specifically, these curls work the biceps at the front of the upper arm, and also the muscles of the lower arm, the brachialis and brachioradialis.
Step by step:
Select dumbbells of weight that you can lift 10 times with good form.
If you are just beginning, rehabilitating from an injury or returning to exercise after a sedentary period, I suggest you start with minimal weight and build up from there.
Begin standing tall with your feet about hip-width apart.
Keep your abdominal muscles engaged.
Hold one dumbbell in each hand.
Let your arms relax down at the sides of your body with palms facing forward.
Keeping your upper arms stable and shoulders relaxed, bend at the elbow and lift the weights so that the dumbbells approach your shoulders. Your elbows should stay tucked in close to your ribs.
Exhale while lifting.
Lower the weights to the starting position.
Deliver 8 to 10 curls, then rest and do one or two more sets.
Leaning cable lateral raise
I love this exercise!
The cable lateral raise is a shoulder exercise that works the middle head of the deltoid muscle, which is the rounded muscle at the very top of each shoulder. This exercise strengthens the infraspinatus and subscapularis muscles in your rotator cuff, thus allowing several shoulder movements, such as internal and external rotations.
The exercise (particularly when combined with frontal raises) can give your shoulder a balanced, well-rounded shape.
Step by step:
On a pulley machine, select a weight that you can lift with only one shoulder.
Stand next to the pulley machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
To maintain good posture, push your chest forward, and point your shoulders back while slightly bending both knees. You can also place your free hand on the machine for support.
Now, reach across your body and grab the stirrup with your outside arm.
Slightly bend your elbow to a 10- to a 30-degree angle and raise your arm sideways until it’s level with your shoulder, exhaling as you lift.
Avoid rotating your arm as you raise the stirrup, and keep your focus on the area you want to train - your middle shoulder.
Hold your position for 1-5 seconds, and then inhale while slowly lowering the weight back. Let the cable come to a complete stop before beginning the next repetition.
Do at least 10-15 reps' per set for each arm.
Cable bicep curl
Another favourite of yours truly, cable bicep curls are one of the best ways to train your biceps, whether your goals are related to size or strength.
Step by step:
Attach a straight bar attachment to a pulley and position it on a rung that you can lift safely, closest to the floor.
Grab the bar with an underhand grip and extend your arms, stepping back slightly from the pulley.
Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and the bar down by your thighs.
Engage your core and pull the bar up toward your shoulders using your biceps muscles, bending your arms at the elbow as you go.
Keep your elbows tucked into your body throughout the movement.
Pause at the top, then release the bar back to start in a slow and controlled motion.
So, there you have it, a set of weights and cables exercises to give your shoulders and biceps the exercise attention they demand and the shape they deserve. As always, start at a low weight or level of resistance when starting out with such exercises and build up from there as your confidence grows.
Plus, if you have any questions, let me know!