My Favourite Upper Body Moves

Last week I gave you my favourite lower body moves, and today (lucky you) you’re getting my favourite upper body moves. Now, I’ve decided to do a couple more of these posts, because obviously the body is a big thing with lots of areas we use to move about. So, in the next couple of weeks the posts I’m considering writing are:

  • My favourite core exercises
  • My favourite HIIT moves & workouts
  • My favourite relaxing forms of exercise
  • My favourite combination moves (working two bits of the body at once)

And, last but not least:

  • Finding exercise/movement that you love

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below which posts you like the sound of most.

For today though, lets get stuck into those upper body moves. I’m fairly traditional in my choice of favourites. As I mentioned last week: I’m not a PT so if you are thinking of using these moves then go watch the PTs I mentioned last week (post here), or even better, consult a PT in your gym.

For a long time I didn’t really know what to do for my upper body, and so I still have a lot of moves to learn- but here are my favourites thus far:

Lats Pull- As a machine this one doesn’t take much explaining: the instructions will be stuck to it somewhere. You basically pull a weighted bar from above your head, down to chest level, and it works your upper and mid back.

Chest Press- Here you work the chest (obviously), and the arms. You lie on a bench, with your weight held over your chest, and slowly press upwards, then slowly bring it back down, without resting the bar on your chest at any point (because that would be dangerous).

Single Arm Row- This is harder to explain than it is to demonstrate. You rest one leg, bent as if you’re kneeling, on a bench, and place the hand on the same side onto the bench to stabilise yourself. Your other leg is to the side of the bench, bent slightly, and supporting you. In the hand on the side of the leg not on the bench, hold your dumbbell. Slowly pull your arm back in a rowing motion, and slowly lower back down. This will strengthen the upper back and arm doing the rowing.

Tricep Extentions – Hold a dumbbell in two hands above your head, and bend your elbows to lower it down, then straighten them to return to the start position. Repeat for your set number of reps. This will strengthen the back of the arms- the triceps. Skull crushers also do the same.

Single Arm Clean & Press- The best way to do this exercise- I personally feel- is with a kettlebell, but my gym doesn’t actually have these (I know. Uni gyms). You can use a dumbbell, but its a little more awkward, and not ideal. You’ll be squatting down slightly, grabbing your kettlbell/dumbbell, and smoothly transitioning to pushing it above your head. Lower it down, reversing the steps you took, and then repeat. The best demonstrator of this total body move is Clean Eating Alice.

Overhead Press – I like using a barbell for this one. Stand up straight, with shoulders away from the ears. Clean and press the bar once to get into position, and from here you basically push it upwards from your chest to above your head- careful not to “lock” the elbows completely straight- and then lower back down to your chest. Eventually, if your arms fatigue, you can also begin “pushing” with your legs. It works the shoulders and upper back.

Bicep Curls- Nice and simple. Hold the barbell or dumbbell in an underhand grip, and tense the biceps to bring the bar up to your chest. Careful to keep your elbows in, but not rest them on your body and so decrease the difficulty. Slowly lower back down. Repeat. This, of course, will strengthen the biceps.

Dumbell Flies- Don’t go too heavy at first, as you’ll be in danger of straining your neck. You stand feet shoulder width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. Hinge at the hips and bend the knees just slightly, so that you’re back is straight but your upper body tilting forwards. Squeeze between your shoulder blades together, careful not to hunch up, and bring the dumbbells out to the sides, elbows slightly bent. Lower and repeat.

Bent Over Row, underhand grip- We used to do this a lot in Pump & Tone. Hold a barbell with an underhand grip, so that its level with your thighs. Hinge at you hips so that you are slightly bend over, but your back is straight. Pull the bar up to your belly, keeping your elbows in and moving backwards, and then lower it  back down. Repeat for your set number of reps.


There you go, my favourite moves. My favourites are constantly changing, and so if there are any moves you absolutely love then let me know in the comments below,  so that I can try them out…



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