Home Workout Routine: Top 3 Barbell Exercises for a Strong Upper Body

When it comes to achieving upper body strength and definition, the barbell can be the most effective tool available to you. Try introducing it into your home workout routine. This simple free weight can transform weak arms, shoulders, chest and back into a muscular physique when used correctly. Here are our top three barbell exercises for a strong upper body:

  1. Bench Press

The bench press is one of the most popular barbell exercises for chest development. When performed correctly, it works the pectorals as well as the triceps. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lay flat on the bench with your feet planted on the floor
  • Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Inhale while you lower the bar to your lower chest, keeping your elbows close to the sides throughout
  • Exhale as you extend your arms and push the weight up
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Variations: The bench press can be altered to target the chest from various angles. Here’s how:

  • Wide grip – A wider grip will further engage your outer pectorals
  • Close grip ­– A closer grip will further engage your inner pectorals
  • Decline position – Performing this workout in a decline position will bring focus to your lower pectorals
  • Incline position – Performing this workout in an incline position will bring focus to your upper chest

 

  1. Standing Barbell Curl

The bench press is a great move for bulking up your chest but when it comes to strengthening the arms, not many strength training exercises can beat the standing curl. A go-to move for bicep building routines, the standing curl will add size and definition to your arms in no time. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Slowly curl the bar up until your biceps are fully contracted, keeping your elbows locked to your sides
  • Lower the bar in a controlled movement
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 5-9 reps

Tips: Like many strength training exercises, poor form or execution can hinder results and even cause injuries. Here are some tips to get the most out of the standing curl:

  • Refrain from swinging your body as you move the weight. This will take pressure off the biceps, minimizing gains in your arms.
  • Do not drop the weight quickly once you have curled the bar. A smooth and controlled pace will ensure an injury-free training session.
  • To work your outer biceps, try using a closed grip.
  • To work your inner biceps, try using a wider grip.

 

  1. Overhead Barbell Press

Now that you’ve worked your arms and chest, it’s time to focus on your shoulders. The overhead press is a full body compound exercise that focuses on shoulder and triceps development while also engaging your legs, lower back and abs for balance. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • With your feet shoulder-width apart, lift the bar over your head by locking your arms
  • In a smooth and controlled movement, lower the bar to your upper clavicle area
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Tips: The overhead press is a powerful move that can also be a dangerous one if you are not careful. Here are some tips to avoid injuries and increase gains:

  • If you are experiencing or prone to shoulder pain, try a narrower grip.
  • You can perform the overhead press in a seated or standing position, whichever makes you feel most comfortable.
  • For a more well-rounded shoulder workout, try lowering the bar behind your neck to your upper traps for some reps. This will ensure you are engaging all of your shoulder muscles.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

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