Upper Body Resistance Exercises 

When doing resistance exercises I like to focus on one or two body parts per workout session. I do this for three to four days . . . however long it takes me to do all six major areas of the body. I will make sure to get at least three days of rest over a seven day period of doing these exercises.

The first sets of exercises I like to start with are the upper body resistance exercises.  The upper body includes the chest, arms, shoulders and back. You can use resistance bands of different tension, light free weights or the machines available in the gym.

To get the most benefit from resistance exercises you should do them with as little rest as possible between sets. This will cause you to burn more calories and increase your metabolism so that even while you are at rest you are still expending energy.  60 – 90 seconds is the standard rest between sets. Your goal should be to cut this time to 30 to 60 seconds while incrementally increasing the resisted weight. This should happen over a three to four-month period.

Lets start with the arms…

Biceps Curls

The first arm exercises will be the biceps curls. I call these as the Tingle Busters since they will get more blood pumping throughout your entire arm and decrease the pins and needle feelings you get in your fingers. A strong set of biceps will make it easier for you to lift all those shopping bags you have to carry from the mall.  When you have to pick up the little ones, these are the muscles that are primarily used. If you are a tennis player or a pitcher on the baseball team then you need to work on developing your biceps since these are the active muscles involved.

Standing Curls using a curling bar

Arm curls can be done using a curling bar, resistance bands or dumbbells. The procedure is basically the same for each type of equipment used. When using the curling bar, you may want to start without any added weights. As you gain more strength and dexterity you can begin adding weights to the bar. Be careful to use all safety precautions such as putting safety clips on both ends of the bar and adding the same amount of weights to either side.

Seated Curls using curling bar

Be sure to use a straight back chair when doing these . . . the idea is to isolate your bicep muscles by not incorporating your legs or lower body. Hold the weights in each hand or stand on a resistance band and grasp the handles. Be sure your palms are facing forward. Your elbows should be slightly flexed and held as close to your sides as possible. Pull the weights or bands up to the chest area making sure your palms are pointed up. Return to the starting position. Do 8 – 12 repetitions to complete 1 set. I like to do four sets of this exercise.  Over time, as your strength increases you can incrementally increase the weights.

Seated curls using machine

Your health club facility may also have machines specifically for doing arm curls. Ask a facility member to point these out to you. There are several types of arm curls machines; use one that you are comfortable with. Be sure to follow all safety precautions.

That’s generally all the bicep exercises you need to do. As you become more experienced you may want to start adding some variety to these exercises such as preacher curls and hammer curls.

Unless you are into serious body building, bicep curls should only be done once per week. Any more than that and you are over training. Because these exercises can be completed fairly quickly I usually do them with another body part such as legs or after doing a chest workout.

Forearm Curls (pump)

The next arm exercise will be for the forearms. Using light weights, rest the back of your wrists on your knees with your palms facing up. Allow the weights to hang as low as possible. Slowly curl the weights up using your wrists and return to the starting position. Do ten repetitions and three to four sets. I prefer to use the curling bar or a straight barbell when doing these exercises because I can add or subtract weights as needed.

The forearm exercises are great for those suffering from neuropathy. You can actually feel the blood flowing into your hands and arms after each set is completed. I would recommend doing these a couple days per week because you can get so much benefit from it.

To a healthier you,

Owen Lecky


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