Upper Body Strength Workouts

2 Apr

I’ve had a few requests to share my upper body strength training routine, so for those who asked (and those who didn’t) here you go! *Disclaimer: This routine was created for me by my brother, he is not a personal train or professional of any sort.  Approach this routine at your own level of ability – the weights listed are what I currently use.*

I do each of these workouts once a week, with free weights. Perform 5 reps of each exercise and 5 total circuits within each set, without stopping. Rest for two minutes between each set.

For example (I needed this explained to me, if you know what I mean, skip this part):

Set One:

Flat Bench x 5

Arnold Press x 5

Hammer Curls x 5

Repeat all 3 exercises 4 more times in a row without stopping, so it’s like a mini weight lifting cardiovascular circuit.

Then rest for 2 minutes, and move on to Set 2.

All three sets, plus ab work, takes me about an hour.

Upper Body Day 1

Upper Body Day 2
Today will mark the 4th week of doing these exercises and I am seeing increased definition in my biceps, shoulders, and triceps, as well as an increase in core strength from doing the following exercises twice a week (plus yoga once a week). I do the first 2 exercises as a set, then the next exercises, then the planks as a set, then the next exercise, resting for 1 minute in between each set:

I’d love to hear from you if you try these exercises!

The leg work on day 2 was added in after my doc told me I needed to strengthen my legs, so I’ve only done those exercises once so far. I’ll let you know when I start feeling stronger in the legs!

Do you weight train? What’s your routine like?



17 Responses to “Upper Body Strength Workouts”

  1. Miz April 2, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    oooh Im in to try.
    will add some of these in this morning 🙂

  2. Jess Sutera April 2, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    This is cool to see – love to see how everyone approaches strength training a little bit differently. It looks like given the low reps, that you’re lifting heavy with low reps to build strength vs. lifting lighter weights for tons of reps to build endurance, right? I’m on the latter end of that equation – the endurance side of things, that’s what barre n9ne strength work is built on and it works really well for me, giving me the lean and mean muscles I’ve been looking for. I used to vary it – doing some endurance-style lifting, then I’d shift into hypertrophy-style lifting (to build definition) and then the heavy style lifting with low reps to build strength. Did that for awhile and it was great. But now, I’m just really digging the light weight/shitton of reps route. You gotta find what works for you, right? And it looks like you have! Love that!

    • runcupcake April 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      I am working on strength, not endurance. Having been running so many 100+ mile months in a row, my endurance is great. I’m not even tired at the end of these workouts, other than in the muscle being worked. Plus I like doing it this way because you get that mini-cardio workout with each set too!

      • Jess Sutera April 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

        True – but your endurance from running doesn’t also equate to endurance with strength work per se, sorta apples and oranges, ya know? I will say (and then I’ll shut up LOL) that if you aren’t tired after these weight workouts, you might need to lift heavier (since these are very low-rep workouts you can afford to) to really fatigue the muscle and build even more strength that way. FWIW 🙂

      • runcupcake April 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

        This is the heaviest I can lift at this time, due to the fact that I’m using dumb bells. (Except for rowing, hence 70#). If I was using machines, the weights would be much higher.

        This is Week 4 of this workout, also, so I do plan on trying to go heavier next week.

        I shouldn’t say “not tired” – the muscles I”m using are definitely tired, each time I complete a full circuit (all 25 reps) I’m almost struggling to eek out the last couple of reps, but taking into consideration form so that I don’t get hurt.

        Never shut up, please, I always appreciate your input! 🙂

  3. Heather (Where's the Beach) April 2, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    I’m definitely into lifting weights. I am a big fan of supersets, trisets or giant sets. Keeps the workout moving along faster. I also go lower on reps and higher on weights, but I really should shake things up. It’s always good to do that.

    • runcupcake April 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      I plan on shaking things up once I really start to build strength. I like doing this low rep/high weight with free weights, it’s much more challenging than machines!

  4. jobo April 2, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    I am so glad you are getting consistent strength training in! It makes a world of difference, doesn’t it? I just feel sturdier, ya know? It sounds like this combo works great for you, and it is a solid, well-rounded plan. Nice job by your bro 😉

    • runcupcake April 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      It does make a world of difference, I noticed in my upper body while I was running yesterday!

  5. bendiful April 2, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    I can’t wait to try these! I need some variety in my workouts especially weight training! Great post!

    • runcupcake April 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      Thank you! If you do them with free weights they’re much more challenging than using a machine!

  6. urbannerdrunner April 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    That looks like an awesome routine. With the low weight, high sets, you’re doing what every runner should do is get your muscles used to endurance. Couple of suggestions if I may:
    1) you may want to also workout your legs in your strength training routine, squats and lunges
    2) After a few weeks of this routine, you may want to switch it up to a routine where you emphasize more weight and less sets. This way you muscles don’t plateau.

    • runcupcake April 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      Hi! Thanks for the suggestions, I must not have been completely clear though. These weights are the heaviest I can handle at this time, due to the fact that I’m using dumbbells instead of weight machines so that I am also working my stabilization muscles.

      Also, you’ll notice on Day 2, I am working my legs (Squats, Step ups, and calf raises).

      I plan on continuing to increase my weights so that my muscles don’t plateau! I’m on my 4th week of these workouts, and I am still building strength, as I haven’t been able to up the weights much yet.

      • urbannerdrunner April 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

        Ooops, I’m sorry. I usually hesitate in giving unsolicited advice. This is precisely one of the reasons. I’m sorry.

      • runcupcake April 2, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

        No worries, I always appreciate input!

  7. Tina Reale (@tinareale) April 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    My weight training is always all over the place. I do different routines every week it feels like. Probably because as I plan for clients I always think “oh…that’s a good combo” and then do it myself. Haha!

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