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4 Upper Body Workouts You Should Never Skip

Improve muscle definition, strength, endurance, and posture

Date April 19, 2021
Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness

When we think about working out our upper bodies, we can get caught up in doing it just for the flex. Toned arms, pumped up pecs, and a rippling back — they all certainly look nice, but there’s many more important reasons to consistently train your upper body beyond just the aesthetics.

The Importance of Upper Body Strength

1. Improved Posture

Many of us tend to spend time sitting in front of our computer for work or unconsciously let our bodies rest in a less than optimal state. Hunched shoulders, caved-in core, and a craning neck all makes for terrible posture and the ill side-effects that come with it like extra pressure on the spine, back and neck pain, and even worse sleep.

A strong back and an activated upper body helps to improve and maintain proper posture and your mind-body connection. You’ll sit up straighter and you’ll be more aware of the components of your upper body that make-up good posture.

2. Ease with Daily Activities

Whether it’s lugging a heavy bag of groceries out of the supermarket or a PGA-worthy golf swing, a strong upper body makes everyday life easier. Even for sports like running, a strong upper body is key to making you a more efficient runner.

3. Lower Risk of Injury

With a strong upper body and overall better upper body awareness, you improve your balance and reduce the risk of injury (and pain). If you lift something heavy and have a strong upper body and a strong upper body awareness, you can move with proper form to ensure you’re moving safely. Strong muscles also protect your tendons and ligaments and bones from unnecessary wear and tear, especially as we age.

4 Upper Body Exercises to Add to your Routine

The good news about upper body workouts is that they’re largely low impact, so putting in the work can be done with lower risking of hurting your joints or aggravating an existing injury. These exercises come recommended from Dr. Joel French, Tempo’s Head of Exercise Science.

“These exercises are important to do regularly because they target the upper-back as well as your other core upper body muscle groups to help alleviate the tendency for poor posture, neck tension, and to have a well-rounded upper body strength” Dr. French said.

All of these exercises can be found in a variety of Tempo classes, but we suggest Tempo athletes look specifically at our Build classes like which aim to provide your body with hypertrophy training.

Dr. French recommends incorporating upper body strength training into your routine 2-3 times per week, making sure that you’re steadily increasing the weight as you get stronger and feel more comfortable. For any two-armed exercises below, feel free to sub in a barbell instead.

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row: The bent-over row primarily works the lats which are the biggest muscles in the upper body. So if you are trying to build muscle mass for metabolism, hitting the biggest muscles is smart. The row also hits the muscles of the upper back and the back of the shoulder which help you maintain good posture, reducing neck strain, risk of shoulder injury, etc.Developing strength in these muscles mean that you can lift more from the ground, pull open a heavy door, and more with ease.

Dumbbell Single-Arm Row: Similar to the bent-over row, the single arm row employs even more of the back and lats (the large muscles below your armpit) and requires more core activation and stability. By training one side at a time, you improve body awareness and can also pinpoint any body imbalances.

Dumbbell Chest Press: Your chest muscles help generate more full body strength that will assist you in your day to day life and activities like pushing a stroller or shopping cart. Using dumbbells for this exercise also allows you to train both sides of your body more effectively.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press: Develop strong “boulder shoulders” as our Coach Bryan would say. Strong shoulders help protect your delicate shoulder joint and develop your deltoids to generate force which help when lifting heavy things overhead.

For Tempo athletes, we’ve compiled the best of the best for upper body workouts that include all of the above exercises in our Upper Body Collection — you can find it by scrolling down in the Class tab.

Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness

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