Upper Body Strengthening Exercises

Week One of Shape Up Month

Dr Matt has teamed up with Personal Trainer Andrew Grimwood from BodayLean in Mana to go over some Upper Body Strengthening Exercises

Upper Body Strengthening Exercises

Upper body strengthening exercises can be often neglected within normal workprogrames but are hugely important to include as it has numerous benefits on your health. A strong upper body helps with good posture. Generally, a large portion of the population have sedentary jobs involving hunching over computers, sitting at desks for a large period of time and behind the wheel of a car. As a result, most of us suffer from posterior imbalances. The chest muscles tighten, the back muscles weaken and the shoulders rounded forward (a condition known as kyphosis). Strengthening the muscles in the back encourages you to hold your shoulders back. It also improves your core strength, forcing the body to sit up tall.

Furthermore, having a strong upper back can help in your workouts or endurance-based activities. Strong shoulders are important for cyclists to help position the top half of their body over the handlebars, with arms and shoulders taking a large part of the impact of the ride. It can also benefit swimmers, helping to propel them through the water more efficiently.

Strength training has great metabolism-boosting powers. Like HIIT training, strength training is an excellent way to get rid of excess body fat when paired with a balanced diet – giving you a leaner, more toned appearance.

Strength training can have a functional purpose in increasing your capacity to go about your daily life – whether that's picking things up or putting them down or pushing and pulling various objects. It's moving your body with a purpose to improve your strength, balance, coordination and posture. You want a healthy body that not only looks good, but can move freely of injury and last you for many years to come.

Andrew from BodyLean has gone through some exercise’s that work at strengthening your upper body that you can do from home, that doesn't require too much equipment and is at a beginner level.

Prone Press

How: Lye on the mat, face down with your forehead touching the mat at all times throughout the exercise. Take your arms to your side whilst bending them at the elbow. Don't try and lift yourself up as that will be working your lower back too much which isn't the purpose of this exercise.  As you lift your bent elbows off the mat, you also want to squeeze your shoulder blades together as much as you can. Try not to rotate your arms as you bring them up, then press them out above your head and then bring the elbows back down. Look at doing between 10-15 reps. 

Feel: You will feel it in the upper back, not the shoulders. If you want to progress this exercise you can also hold something light in your hand, about 1-2 kgs. 

Compensation: Make sure your movements are controlled and slow. Keep your body on the floor so you are working the upper body and try on to rotate your arms throughout the exercise. When pushing your arms out, try and keep them shoulder width apart. 

Band Row

How: Begin this exercise upright with the resistance band anchored at about shoulder height. Hold each end of the band with your palms up and either have a seated type stance or a split stand, whatever feels comfortable.  Perform a row by bringing your elbows up. Allow your elbows to bend as you perform a Row by bringing your elbows back. Whilst your elbows are bent, your forearm should be inline with the resistance band. Focus on initiating this motion with your shoulder blade then allow your arm to follow. This means pinching your shoulder blades together as you go through the motion. Do about 15 - 25 reps.

Feel: You should feel the back of the shoulders working with this exercise. Focusing on the lower traps of the shoulder blades not higher ones as that are usually stronger for people and more dominant. 

Compensation: Avoid arching the back and shrugging the shoulders as you perform this exercise. 



How: Lying flat on your stomach, forehead to the mat, lift your arms and move them to your lower back slightly raised not touching your lower back with arms straight. From the lower back position you want to bring your arms to the top of your head in a wide circular motion. Try to keep your arms as high as possible. Then slowly and controlled bring your arms back with a wide circular motion to the lower back position. Look to do 10-15 reps of this.

Feel: You should feel it in the back of your shoulders blades. Over time you will start to strengthen these shoulder blade muscles. 

Compensation: When doing this exercise you want to focus on what your shoulder blades are doing. Don't rely on your arms, focus on bringing those shoulder blades in as you do the wide circular motions.

To view the Q & A video click here and to follow the exercises mentioned today click here to watch. 

Upper body resistance or strength training has a long list of benefits. It helps you boost muscle strength and endurance in your arms, back, chest, and shoulders. It also helps you burn calories, reduce your risk of injury, and build stronger bones. Not only that but getting strong feels good for the body and mind. Upper body exercises will challenge your muscles and may leave you slightly sore, but you shouldn’t feel pain. If you do, stop and check in with your Chiropractor or consider having a consultation with a personal trainer. We highly recommend Andrew from BodyLean.

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