These five key exercises will improve your upper body strength and ultimately help you carry yourself through life. They are exercises that will also improve tendon strength and solidify good movement patterns when performed correctly. Strengthening your body and movement is a positive step towards avoiding injury in the future.

It cannot be overstated how important correct form and using the appropriate equipment is when it comes to upper body exercises.



The Overhead Press (also known as the Strict Press or Shoulder Press) is a compound exercise that involves lifting a weighted barbell overhead to a fully locked out position with the strict use of the shoulders and arms.

Pressing the bar overhead is one of the most useful upper body exercises you can do. This highly effective exercise involves the entire body. Your feet, legs, glutes, core, abs, hips, ankles and wrists help to stabilise the body whilst your shoulders, upper chest, back and arms press the bar overhead.

  1. PULL UP

When it comes to upper body strength, the humble pull up is a tried and tested bodyweight exercise that can significantly help you to enhance your abilities. You can play around with the different variations in order to challenge your body in new ways. Wide overhand grip (pronated) will especially target your upper back, whilst chin ups with a closer grip (supinated) are a great way to develop your biceps.


  •        Keep your core tight
  •        Squeeze your glutes
  •        Grip as hard as you can on the bar



The bench press is a great way to build power and improve lockout strength and overhead press movements for other lifts.


  •         Setup. Lie on the flat bench with your eyes under the bar. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder-blades. Feet flat on the floor.
  •         Grab the bar.  Hold the bar in the base of your palm with straight wrists and a full grip.
  •         Un-rack. Take a big breath and unrack the bar by straightening your arms. Move the bar over your shoulders with your elbows locked.
  •         Lower the bar. Lower it to your mid-chest while tucking your elbows 75°. Keep your forearms vertical. Hold your breath at the bottom.
  •         Press. Press the bar from your mid-chest to above your shoulders. Keep your butt on the bench. Lock your elbows at the top. Breathe.

The Barbell Row will improve the strength of your back, hips and grip and is even useful for improving the power of your pull ups and muscle ups.

The barbell row is not only a back or upper body exercise. When you are unracking the bar and setting your stance, you will bend at the waist and the glutes, hamstrings and hips will work together to stabilise your body even before you have even completed the first pull.


  1. DIPS

Dips are a staple compound exercise in many athletes’ routines. But the dip is not as simple as it looks. This exercise requires great strength, stability and range of motion. Most people do not have the combination of all three, and that increases their risk of injury when performing this movement.


  •         Start in the support position with the elbows locked and hands turned out
  •         Emphasize a long neck and hollow body position
  •         Initiate the dip by sending the shoulder forward
  •         Reach the bottom of the dip with your shoulder below the elbow (just like proper squat position with the hip below the knee)
  •         Press back up and finish in the same strong support position in which you started


The biggest mistake with dips is letting the shoulder move too far forward as you go down. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on the shoulder joint and its muscles.

If you want to make dips safer for the shoulders, make sure to lower yourself while contracting the upper back as you go down. Pinch your shoulder blades together as if you were trying to clamp something in between them.


Train safe and maximize your performance.  See our Personal Trainers for any further help and guidance that you require.