How to build your upper body (with pictures)

How to build your upper body (with pictures)
How to build your upper body (with pictures)

Often referred to as the “beach muscles” because they look great in a tight top or a swimsuit, upper arm muscles are one of the essential parts of the body to build when doing weight training. There are three families of muscles to focus on when building your upper body: biceps, triceps, and deltoids. Since they are well defined and each have a different function, it is easy to focus on each of them.


Part 1 of 4: working the triceps

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 1

Step 1. Identify your triceps

It is a group of 3 muscles that start from the outer part of the elbow towards the shoulder on the entire outer facade of the upper arm. They are used for elbow extensions, when you straighten your arm or bend it outward at the elbow. You can see them by holding your arm straight and trying to force the curve towards the elbow. The triceps have a V shape on the outer side of the arm.

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 2

Step 2. Do some dumbbell skullcrushers

This exercise perfectly isolates the triceps. Lie down on a gym bench and hold a barbell or dumbbell in each hand. Rest the bar above your forehead with your elbows pointing downward and your hands in line with your shoulders. Bend only from your elbows and push the weight off until they are almost fully extended. Gently bring the bar back over your forehead for a full repetition. Do the exercise 3 times, with 10 to 12 repetitions.

Your elbows may splay slightly, but try to keep them as parallel to your body as possible

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 3

Step 3. Work on the tricep dips

This is one of the essential strength training exercises because the dips use the entire body weight. Start the exercise with an aerobics bench if you need strength. Support yourself with your hands on the bench and gently bend your knees. Slowly drop your body until your elbows form a 90 ° angle and then straighten up. If you have enough strength, do the exercise with parallel bars. Lift your body with your arms extended. Repeat the exercise 3 times for 8 to 10 repetitions.

  • Keep your bust perpendicular to the floor.
  • Don't let your elbows pull out and open outward.
Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 4

Step 4. Practice the triceps tug of war

It only works in the gym, with a rope that you pull through a pulley machine on which you can adjust the weight. Stand facing the rope with your feet slightly apart. Grab each side of the rope with your arms bent at 90 ° then pull it down to your thighs. Slowly return to the initial position. Keep your shoulders low during this exercise, only your elbows and forearms should move.

To make the exercise even more difficult, rotate your wrists from below so that your palms are facing you

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 5

Step 5. Make extensions

Sit down with a dumbbell in each hand. Lift them up and keep your arm close to your ear with your palms facing each other. Gently lower the dumbbells behind your head, bending your elbows. Your shoulders should stay straight. Once the weight is behind your head, return to the initial movement, arm raised towards the ceiling. Do the exercise 3 times, repeating the movement 10 to 12 times.

  • Be careful when lowering the weight. The arm should not tilt back. Maintain control of the weight you lift.
  • You can also use a hanging cable for this exercise, which you pull behind your back towards the ceiling.
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Step 6. Get into position

Bring your hands close together for push-ups or bench presses that target your triceps. Choose the normal exercise to strengthen your chest by simply bringing your hands together, about 15 cm. You will likely need to drop the weight for a bench press or decrease the number of reps for push-ups.

  • The pumps:

    place your hands together under the center of your chest and form a diamond with your thumbs and forefingers under the breastbone. With your body straight and toes on the floor, lower yourself down until your elbows flex and then return to the starting position.

  • Bench press:

    Sit under a bar and grab it with your elbows at nipple height, unlike the usual shoulder width. Lift the bar up to lower it to your chest then use your triceps to return it to its original position. As usual, perform the exercise in the presence of a person who can prevent the bar from falling if it should slip.

Part 2 of 4: work out your biceps

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 7

Step 1. Identify your biceps

The biceps are a group of two muscles that run from the inside of the elbow to the upper arm that joins the bust. This is the protrusion that you observe when you wrap the arm at a 90 ° angle and it is its primary function. Biceps are used for elbow curls or any time you bend your arm.

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 8

Step 2. Do bicep curls

The most powerful and basic exercise, the one that “gets you bang for your buck”. Take a barbell with both hands and hold it at your thighs, both arms straight, but slightly bent at the elbows. Raise and lower the bar smoothly. Do the exercise 3 times, with 10 to 12 repetitions. Good posture, however, is extremely important.

  • Keep your shoulders low.
  • Your back should not tilt or bend, but it should be perfectly straight to perform the exercise more easily.
  • Stay in control and slow. If you're gaining momentum, you're not using your muscles.
Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 9

Step 3. Reverse the movements

Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly at the waist (not your back) to be about 45 °. Take a barbell with the palms facing outward and keep your arms straight. Pull the bar towards you by pulling your elbows back and winding the bar at the same time. Do the exercise 3 times with 3 to 5 repetitions.

Consider contracting different muscles, such as the back of your biceps, to change the target of this exercise

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 10

Step 4. Do push-ups

Grab a horizontal bar using both hands, palms facing you and both little fingers inside the grip. Your hands shouldn't be quite in line with your shoulders, but just a little more tight. Bend your knees slightly and cross your ankles. Pull until your chin is above the bar, keeping your torso straight. Do as many reps as possible. This exercise is difficult without training.

If you can't do it, try the reverse exercise. Step onto a stand that allows your chin to already be at bar height and then lift your feet. Slowly (between 3 to 5 seconds), let yourself go down to your support

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 11

Step 5. Do arm curls

There are different types of exercises, but all are aimed at the same thing. Grab a dumbbell and, without using any other muscles, lift the weight up to your shoulder. Your forearm and elbow should be the only limbs that move, giving your biceps a full workout.

  • Try to put your elbow on your thigh while sitting. So you can use your other hand to keep it in place as you lift your dumbbell.
  • Standing curls allow you to work both arms at the same time, alternating. You can even change the angle of your wrist to work on different parts of the biceps. By twisting them so that your thumbs are on the top, your biceps will work in a different way. It is nicknamed the "hammer curl".

Part 3 of 4: working the deltoids

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 12

Step 1. Identify your deltoids

The deltoids are the muscles in the outer part of your shoulders. They form a triangle that descends on the upper part of your arm for about 10 cm. The deltoids are used to elevate your arms in a winged motion, when your elbows are pointed outward. Strong deltoids also protect the rotator cuff, your major shoulder joint.

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 13

Step 2. Lift standing dumbbells

Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand. Lift the dumbbells so that your arms bend at a 90 ° angle and the weights are close to your ears. Your palms are facing outward. In a fluid motion, push your hands up in the air, as if you were surrendering. Gently lower the dumbbells back to your ears. Do the exercise 3 times with 10 to 12 repetitions.

Start with a weight of 5-7 kg

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 14

Step 3. Lift dumbbells sideways

Leave your arms at your sides, feet in line with the shoulders. With a weight in each hand, bend your arms 90 ° so that the weights are level with your waist. Lift your elbows sideways, like wings. Once your elbows are in line with your shoulders, slowly lower your arms back down. Stay focused on your forearms and wrists, so they are firm, as well as your elbows. Don't drop them or put too much strain on the joints. Do the exercise 3 times with 10 to 12 repetitions.

  • You can also keep your arms straight and use kettle bell weights that have a grip, rather than dumbbells.
  • You can also do this exercise with a resistance band. Stand in the center of the band with a grip in each hand. With your arms at your sides, lift them sideways, like wings, then gently bring them back to your side.
Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 15

Step 4. Make vertical lines

Take a dumbbell in each hand, placing them in line with your shoulders. Stand up straight with the dumbbells in your hands at your sides, palms facing you. Lift the weights up to your chin. Both elbows should point out. Keep your back and torso straight while exercising. Do the exercise 3 times, with 10 to 12 repetitions.

You can also do this exercise with a cable, which starts from the floor and which you pull as you would lift a dumbbell

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 16

Step 5. Lift weights in front of you

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, back straight and feet in line with your shoulders, arms at your sides. Lift the weight, arm straight, until your elbow is in line with your shoulder in front of you. Gently lower the arm and return it to its original position. Do the exercise 3 times, with 10 to 12 repetitions for each arm.

  • Do not let the arm move to one side or the other, as this may injure you.
  • Do not bend your back or bend over to perform this exercise.
Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 17

Step 6. Do neutral pull-ups

Neutral pull-ups mean your palms are facing inward and facing each other. Grasp the pull-up bar handles so that your thumbs are facing you and your little fingers are facing out. Pull your chest towards the bar so that your chin meets your hands. You will be at an angle of approximately 45 ° with the ground. Slowly go back down, contracting your torso. Start with 3 to 5 repetitions, for as much exercise as you can.

Part 4 of 4: Getting the most out of a workout

Build Your Upper Arm Muscles Step 18

Step 1. Stretch before lifting

Stretching will give you more flexibility during the exercise. It also increases the time you go to workout and reduces the chance of straining a muscle. Do stretches that last 12 to 15 seconds each. There are different stretches.

  • Make circular motions with your arms extended to each side. Gradually increase the size of the circles until you are making large rotating movements.
  • Pass one arm over your chest at shoulder height. With the other arm, pull it up, grabbing your triceps.
  • Pass your arm over your shoulder, behind your back, so that your elbow is pointing up. Grasp the elbow with the other hand and gently push it backwards so that you can feel the stretch in the triceps.
  • Intertwine your fingers, extend your arms and gently push from the middle of the fingers outward, keeping them together.
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Step 2. Define your exercises

Target 2 to 3 exercises for each muscle group and each workout. Doing all these exercises on the same day, if you are a beginner, will be particularly difficult. Instead, choose a muscle group you will be working on one day, then switch to a different muscle group the next time. This keeps you in shape and prevents your muscles from getting used to the training, which slows down muscle growth.

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Step 3. Take a break between workouts

Muscle building consists of replacing old fibers with new ones, it takes time. Your muscles need to rest between sessions or you risk injuring yourself. That said, you can work out daily by targeting other muscles, such as the thighs.

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Step 4. Choose a weight that requires effort without hurting yourself

Start with a small weight and increase as you get stronger. When starting out, choose weights that require you to exert an effort on the last 3 repetitions of the first 2 or 3 exercises. By effort, that means you can lift the weight, but you have to work to be successful. You have to struggle a bit on the last repetitions.

You shouldn't be hurting. If you are in pain, it may be a sign of an injury. The muscle should be hard because it is tired and not injured

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Step 5. Add weight gradually

If you are no longer tired after 10 reps, it is time to add some weight to your dumbbells. Most muscles in the upper body cannot support a lot of weight. Start between 5-7 kg and increase or decrease in increments of 1 to 2.5 kg. Remember that movement must be controlled whether it is going up or down. It should not be jerky.

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