Building muscle in your upper body is a common ambition, and there are lots of ways to go about it, some of which are more effective than others.
If you want to see tangible results sooner rather than later, here are a handful of techniques and tips to put into practice.
Optimize your diet
Before you go about changing your workout routine or splashing out on expensive equipment, it is first sensible to think about how what you eat impacts your ability to build muscle and perform at the peak of your potential during exercise.
Eating protein-rich foods is obviously important, and sticking to lean meats where possible is definitely worthwhile. You can also make use of supplements to overcome deficiencies in your diet; for example, choosing products which take advantage of the beta alanine benefits in order to reduce muscle fatigue and keep you pushing through the burn for longer can be a good way to make the most of every opportunity you have to work out.
Mix up your arm exercises
One of the other barriers to gaining upper body muscle is that many people get bored by the repetition of the same small set of exercises, which is mentally draining as much as it is physically fatiguing.
Instead you should aim to keep things interesting when building your arm muscles in particular. For example, performing chin-ups, push-ups, bar curls and bench presses over the course of a single session is far more stimulating than if you were just pumping iron endlessly.
They say variety is the spice of life, and it is definitely true if you are aiming to overcome the potentially mind-addling process of increasing your muscle mass.
There is a lot of debate over the merits of warming up, and while some people are convinced that it is unnecessary, in reality there is one very good reason to ease yourself into any muscle-focused exercises, and that is repeatability.
Remember, it is not just about making sure that you can get through your workout in one piece, but also about preventing your body from being severely hampered by aches and pains 24 hours later when it’s time to train again.
Plenty of people prepare for weight training by hitting the treadmill for five or ten minutes, but when working on your upper body is the order of the day, dynamic stretching is more impactful. You can also ramp things up more slowly by opting to perform your planned exercises with significantly lighter weights for the first couple of reps.
Do not overlook bodyweight-based resistance exercises
You may be tempted to splash out on dumbbells, barbells, lifting benches and any number of other potentially expensive pieces of kit in order to realize your upper body strength aims. However, research has found that straightforward resistance training using nothing more than your bodyweight can be just as effective as reps involving costly gear.
It all comes down to working out what you want to achieve. Obviously if you are hoping to become a competitive bodybuilder, then sticking with press-ups is not going to cut it and you will need to move on to weights at some point. If, on the other hand, you just want to become stronger, fitter and more muscular while still sticking firmly within the lean category in terms of body shape, then you can definitely achieve this using your body as the only weight in your toolkit.
Since everyone is unique, you should of course pay attention to the progress you make and adjust your routine if the tips are not delivering the results you want.