the best upper body exercises

The 3 Best Upper Body Exercises

If you can conquer the 3 best upper body exercises, you’ll understand why they are the best.  Whatever muscles you develop are the product of your own hard work and determination… or the lack thereof.     Put in the work and add these to your routine.

Dips (parallel bars) –  You want to show off in the gym?  While all the other dudes are snapping pictures of bicep curls and posting it to their Instagram account, go grab a waist belt, strap on some plates and rep out some dips with perfect execution!  Believe me you’ll turn more heads than those dudes ever will.  Plus it is the tricep that makes the arm look big, not the bicep. Dips are in the same category as squats, you rarely see anyone doing them, let alone doing them correctly with a lot of weight.   Only the most stout of mind can conquer the king of upper body exercises – dips!

Whatever muscles you develop are the product of your own hard work and determination… or the lack thereof.

How to Use Correct Dip Form (parallel bars)

  1. Make sure the parallel bars are not too far apart from your shoulder width.  If they are too far apart this puts too much stress on your shoulders.
  2. Put your thumbs around the bar and squeeze hard.  The more force you apply to the bar, the stronger you are.  Bend your legs slightly and cross your feet.
  3. Take a nice big breathe with your elbows locked and in the hanging position. Lower yourself in a controlled motion.
  4. Keep your chest up. Don’t let your shoulders roll forward. Keep your chest up and shoulders back.  Remember to take your breath at the top while hanging, NOT during reps.
  5. Try to break parallel. Your shoulders should go lower than your elbows.  If your shoulders don’t agree, go as far as you feel comfortable with.
  6. Once you break parallel, EXPLODE out of the bottom until you lock your elbows at the top.  Forcefully exhale with pursed lips on your way up.  Repeat with full range of motion.  Try and resist any urge to cheat by doing partial dips.  Unless of course your shoulders won’t allow.


Bench Press –  There is something mystical about the bench press.  People love it and hate it.  Mostly for the same reason, it is the benchmark of comparing strength.  But you can’t ignore the facts,  this compound movement involves a lot of upper body muscles.  When these muscle fibers get activated with heavy weight, they release a lot of testosterone, which equals strength and mass gains!  You want to see massive gains in power and mass,  incorporate this lift with deadlift and squats, but don’t forget to ALWAYS maintain exceptional form.

How to Use Correct Bench Press Form

  1. Get a comfortable grip on the bar.  The optimal width for power is when your forearms are vertical at the bottom of the repetition or as close as can be.  To find this width use the bar without any weight added and lower it to your chest.  Note where your forearms are in relation to the different grip widths.
  2. Now lock down your shoulders by lifting your torso off the bench and force your shoulder blades together tightly under your torso.   This will force your shoulders back and puffs out your chest, placing the muscles in a position where they have much more power.  DO NOT place your feet on the bench.  This causes a loss of stability and power.
  3. Remove the bar from the rack. Begin lowering the bar under complete control to a point at the bottom of your sternum.  Inhale as you lower the bar.  Lightly touch the weight to your chest. DO NOT bounce the weight off your chest!
  4. EXPLODE!  Exhale forcefully with pursed lips as you push the weight up. This will help you maintain stability better than exhaling in one massive breath.  Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor. If you lift your feet off the floor, you kill your power base.  The bar should follow a slight backwards arc as you press it up.
  5. Power the weight up until you lock it out.  Rinse and repeat with this full range of motion.


Pull Ups (palms facing you) –  Most gym goers avoid these like the plague for the same reason they ignore dips.  They hurt, they are difficult, and most can only perform 2-3 with good technique.  Pull ups work a variety of upper body muscles and will give you a stronger and more defined back and tone up your arms at the same time.  If you can’t perform a pull up on your own, there are several ways to use assistance.  Pull ups are a convenient exercise with many variations that can drastically help with fat loss, grip strength, and overall awesomeness.

Pull ups are a convenient exercise with many variations that can drastically help with fat loss, grip strength, and overall awesomeness.

How to Use Correct Pull Up Form (palms facing you)

  1. Begin from a fully extended hang, arms should be about shoulder width  apart, or whatever feels the most comfortable, keep your elbows straight,  chest up, shoulders back, and eyes focused upwards.
  2. Begin to pull yourself up to the bar, leading with the chest and control your breathing. Think of forcing your elbows downward towards the floor.
  3. Once your chin is above the bar, begin your descent.
  4. Begin lowering yourself in a steady controlled fashion.  Once you are back to a  hanging position, repeat the process using this full range of motion.


So there you have it, 3 of the best upper body exercises in my opinion.  So what are you waiting for?  Go to the gym and start perfecting your form!