The upper body is what really brings home the physique from an aesthetic and mental perspective. Having lean, defined muscles gives you confidence, makes you happy and also bodes well for any recreational activity or manual chore you might partake in. If that’s not motivation enough to take your training seriously, then I don’t know what is.
Here, you will find five exercises to target this key area. Remember to always aim for 90% perfection or better with your drills!

Upper body strength exercises


   1. Pull-ups

Beginners strength exercises - pullups
Pull-ups are gold standard exercises that everyone should be able to do in their lifetime. Men tend to have an easier time with these than women due to having more natural muscle in the upper body. But that doesn’t mean women can’t “hang” with the best of them. They just need to work a little harder.

For some reason, these are one of the most poorly executed exercises in the fitness industry. People constantly sacrifice crisp form in favor of high reps. That is a fatal mistake that you should never make. A good set of three to five reps trumps 10-plus with sloppy form any day of the week. Take that into consideration when you set up your Pull Up Mate and give these a spin.

To start, reach up and grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip and place your hands about shoulder-width or slightly wider apart. Pull your shoulder blades in and down by contracting your upper lats, move your hips slightly forward and tighten your abs.

Take a big inhale and exhale as you pull yourself up toward the bar. Stop when your chin clears the bar and hold for a second. Inhale as you slowly lower yourself down and fully extend your arms. Pause for a second and repeat.


   2. Chin-ups

Beginners strength exercises - chinupsThe chin-up is very similar to the pull-up, except it places more emphasis on the biceps. The good news is, you still get a good amount of work on your back, shoulders and abs.

Start out by reaching up and grasping the bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Pull your shoulder blades in and down, tighten your abs and move your hips forward slightly. And I forgot to mention earlier, this is called a hollow body position.

Pull yourself up until your chin crosses the bar and hold for a second. Slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended and repeat.

For a little extra ab recruitment, raise your legs up in the air when you come up to the bar and hold for a second. Ideally, they should be parallel to the floor.

This is called an L-sit. At first, you may have to bend your knees, which is fine. Try to at least get your thighs parallel to the floor in this case.




   3. Push-ups

Beginners strength exercises - pushupsPush-ups target your chest, triceps, abs and shoulders in one fell swoop.
N.B. There are some great variations possible with this exercise when using parallettes. Since it is slightly more difficult using parallettes, this is what we'll focus on in our explanation.

Space them parallel to each other and about shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the top of each one and get in a plank position with your feet together and a perfectly straight line from your shoulders to heels.

Keep your back straight and abs tight as you bend your elbows to lower yourself down. Make sure your upper arms stay tight against your ribcage as you do this. Stop when your chest is about even with the top of the bars and push yourself back up.

Stop when your arms are fully extended and repeat.



Practice these three drills two or three times a week and you will quickly build a good baseline of upper body strength. Consider adding variations to mix things up a bit and keep it interesting.

Remember to challenge yourself every time.
Don't allow yourself to get comfortable; that's not what we're here to do!

Then you will be ready to take on more advanced moves that can actually turn some heads the next time you set up shop at the park.