When trying to lose weight, resistance training is just as important as cardio.
Not only will resistance training help to improve your overall physique by shedding those unwanted pounds, but it will also improve your strength, increase lean muscle mass, boosts your metabolism and increases your overall caloric expenditure.
If you want to sculpt your upper body, while reducing your overall body fat percentage, then check out the following upper body exercises for weight loss:
1. Bench Press
The bench press is the most well-known chest exercise on the planet. It’s meant to blast your pecs and can be done by users of all fitness levels.
- To begin, lay flat on a bench with your feet firmly on the ground.
- Grab the barbell at roughly shoulder width apart.
- Lift the barbell off of the rack and slowly lower toward your chest.
- Keep your wrists straight. Don’t curl or bend them.
- Bring the barbell down until your elbows break even with your torso.
- Slowly push the barbell back up.
- Do not lock out your elbows at the top of the movement and repeat.
For increased difficulty, try the incline bench press or decline bench press. For those of you who need some assistance, try the chest press machine, use dumbbells or use a smith machine.
2. Dumbbell Pullover
If you are looking for an exercise that’s a change of pace from the standard bench press movements then check out the dumbbell pullover.
Not only will it target your chest area, but it will also tone your upper back muscles and activate your core.
- Start by lying flat on a bench with your head near the end of the bench.
- Place your feet firmly on the ground.
- Grab a dumbbell with two hands and raise it above your chest.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent and slowly raise it back over your head, toward the ground.
- Keep control of the dumbbell at all times and feel the stretch.
- Slowly bring it back up toward your chest, feel the squeeze, and repeat.
This exercise requires complete control of the dumbbell at all times.
3. Standing Military Press
The standing military press is a challenging exercise that targets your shoulder muscles and requires great concentration.
Not only do you have to lift the barbell up over your head, but you will also need to keep a good balance and tighten those core muscles.
- Place a barbell about chest high on a squat rack.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Grip the barbell outside of shoulder width.
- Bend your knees slightly and position the barbell on your collar bone area.
- Keep the barbell against your chest as you lift it off the squat rack.
- Press the barbell up over your head until your arms are almost completely locked out.
- Slowly lower it down toward your collarbone area and repeat.
Make sure you keep your back straight at all times. Don’t lean backwards or forwards. You can also perform this exercise seated or with dumbbells.
4. Pull-Ups/Assisted Pull-Ups
The pull-up is an oldie, but goodie as it will help you chisel away on your lats. Additionally, your arms will also feel a nice burn.
- Grab the pull-up bar, outside of shoulder width, with your palms facing outward.
- Lean back about 30 degrees and stick your chest out.
- Allow your lower back to have a natural curve.
- Slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended.
- Pull yourself all the way up until your chest is near the bar.
- Lower yourself down and repeat.
Make sure you don’t rock back and forth when performing the pull-up. For those that are unable to perform this exercise without assistance, use the assisted pull-up machine.
This apparatus will have a platform to stand or kneel on as you perform the pull-up. You can adjust the weight to make pull-ups easier as you develop strength.
5. Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curls
The seated incline dumbbell curl is a great exercise for targeting your biceps. It requires absolute concentration throughout the entire movement.
- Adjust the seated bench to a 45 degree angle.
- Sit with your head and back flat against the bench.
- Make sure your feet are firmly on the ground.
- Grab the dumbbells with an underhand grip.
- With your arms fully extended toward the ground, begin to curl dumbbells.
- Make sure your shoulders don’t move.
- All motion is with the elbows and forearms.
- Bring the dumbbells to shoulder level and then slowly lower to starting position.
This exercise is a more challenging variation of the standard seated and standing dumbbell curl.
6. Bar Dips or Dip Machine
Bar dips are one of the best exercises to transform your triceps. After a few reps, you are surely going to feel the burn.
- Stand between the two bars.
- Position a hand on each bar.
- Slight jump up so your feet are off the ground.
- Steady yourself and keep your torso upright.
- As you lower your body, go until your arms break 90 degrees.
- Then slowly push yourself back up to the starting position.
If you are unable to perform dips on the bars, then use the dip machine. It will allow you to sit on a bench with back support, and perform the dip movement by pushing down on the handles instead of pushing yourself up on the bars.
7. The Plank
The plank is an exercise that tightens the core and helps to develop strength in your arms, shoulders, and glutes. You don’t need any equipment for this exercise and it can be done anywhere.
- Start by getting into a push-up position on the floor.
- Instead of having your palms flat on the ground, bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms.
- Make sure your elbows are lined up directly beneath your shoulders.
- Now, make sure your head, torso, core and feet remain in a straight line.
- Do not round or extend your back.
- Hold this position and embrace the burn.
For advanced users, try holding one arm or one foot off the ground. Additionally, anyone can increase the intensity of this exercise by holding the plank for longer durations.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and just about every major health institution recommend that individuals perform strength training exercises at least twice per week.
Additionally, they state that each major muscle group be targeted for at least 1 set of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Since this article is geared toward losing weight, it’s best to perform 3-5 sets of 10 to 15 reps for each exercise listed above. Also, make sure you choose a weight that allows you to hit this set and rep range.
Lastly, reducing the amount of rest time in-between sets will keep your heart rate up and help you to burn off more calories.