7 Killer Upper Body Exercises to Get You Fit

Saravanan "Sharu" Hariram

December 12, 2020


We all want a good-looking and toned body. Let’s face it; if you had an option between having loose flab with no muscle tone and a super-ripped body, we know what most of you would choose. The trouble comes when we realize how hard it can be to shake off the extra pounds. We start off with great intent and resolve, but within a week or two, we begin to fear the mere mention of  workouts!

The importance of a regular workout cannot be overemphasized. Staying fit and ensuring regular exercise helps keep the body in shape, builds immunity, and fights a host of health ailments, reducing our medication dependence. Most importantly, regular exercise is a proven mood enhancer that can help fight conditions like depression and stress, improve focus and attention, and also build on body image and confidence.

We bring you a fantastic workout for your upper body using seven simple exercises, all of which can be managed at home. Time to get your workout gear and attitude ready!

Before We Get Started

The workout we are sharing with you today is known as resistance or strength training. This form of exercise helps improve the tone and strength of your muscles by using them against a force or weight.

The most important thing to combine with your workout is your diet. To start with, ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. A few servings of fruit work well! Add more protein into your diet, and cut down on unnecessary carbohydrates and processed fats. To get the best results,  avoid junk and artificially sweetened food. Aside from your food, the two other key ingredients are rest and sleep. You would need rest from exercise as per your fitness levels, but it is recommended to take one day completely off per week. For sleep, it is highly recommended to sleep 7- 8 hours daily.

Time to Get Moving!

We are now ready to get moving and flaunt those muscles! To get completely ready to begin your workout, you need the following:

·         Handy equipment: This is a simple workout that relies little on equipment. You will need an exercise mat, dumbbells (a few varying weights would be ideal), and resistance bands with differing strengths.

·         Warm-up: Never skip a warm-up before any exercise program. An ideal warm-up should last between 8 and 10 minutes. Get your heart rate and blood flow up by doing some light cardio exercises such as brisk walking, spot marching, spot jogging, etc., for 5-7 minutes. Simple shoulder rolls, arm swings, and spinal rotations for another 3-5 minutes should help loosen your joints and prepare the muscles for the workout.

The Workout Explained

# Exercise 1 – Bicep curls

Bicep curls

The equipment: Dumbbells

The exercise: You can do this either sitting or standing. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbells by the side of your body.  Now as you exhale, curl the dumbbells up. Pause for a second at the top, exhale and slowly lower them to the starting position.

The benefit: Great workout for the biceps

Reps and sets: Start by doing  2 sets of 12- 15 Reps with a light weight. You can gradually increase the weight and do 8-12 Reps with good form. 

# Exercise 2 – Bench/Chair Dips

bench dips

The equipment: Bench/Chair 

The exercise: Sit on the bench or chair with your feet kept together on the floor.  Hold your hands to grip the edge of the bench or chair firmly, placed alongside your thighs. Bring your body off the bench or chair keeping your thighs parallel to the floor. This is your starting position. Now inhale and lower your body till your elbows bend to 90 degrees. Pause for a second, exhale and slowly push the body up to the starting position.

The benefit: Good workout for the triceps.

Reps and sets: You can do 2-3 sets  of 10-15 repetitions. 

# Exercise 3 – Chest flyers

chest exercise

The equipment: resistance band

The exercise: Anchor the resistance band to the window grill or a pole. Stand with your arms stretched out at chest level. Hold the resistance band handles with palms facing front. Step forward and stand so that the resistance band is taut. Exhale and bring the handles together in front of your chest.  Pause for a second, inhale, and return to the starting position. 

The benefit: This is a great exercise for your chest and shoulders

Reps and sets: You can do 2-3 sets of  12-15 repetitions 

# Exercise 4 – Dumbbell Rows

dumbbell rows

The equipment: dumbbells

The exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend from your waist and hold the upper body relatively parallel to the floor. Your dumbbells should be in your hands hanging straight in front of the knees.  Holding the upper body still, exhale and pull the dumbbells up towards the hip. Pause for a second, inhale, and lower the dumbbells  to the starting position

The benefit: Works your lats, rear delts and biceps

Reps and sets: You can do 2-3 sets of  12-15 repetitions 

# Exercise 5 – Wall Gliders

wall gliders

The equipment: None

The exercise: Stand with your head,  shoulders, and hip pressed against the wall. Keep your legs shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent to hold the position firmly. Stretch your arms straight up over your head and cross the hands over one another. Now glide the arms downwards until they are in line with shoulders and parallel to the floor. Pause, and glide them back to the starting position.

The benefit: Feel the squeeze in the back muscles as you glide the arms down. This will help work the back, shoulders, and neck

Reps and sets: You can do 2-3 sets of 15- 20 reps

 # Exercise 6 – Dumbbell Bench/Floor Press

dumbbell punch

The equipment: dumbbells

The exercise: Lie down on a bench or mat with knees bent and feet placed firmly on the floor. . Hold the dumbbells by the side of your chest. Exhale and push the dumbbells up over your chest. Pause for a second, inhale, and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.    

The benefit: This amazing upper body exercise works the Chest, Shoulders and triceps

Reps and sets: You can do 2-3 sets of  12 – 15 Reps 

# Exercise 7 – Lateral Raises

lateral raises

The equipment: Dumbbells

The exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbells by the side of your body. Now exhale and raise your arms sideways until they reach shoulder level and are parallel to the floor. Pause for a second,  inhale and slowly lower your arms to the starting position.

The benefit: This highly effective upper body exercise helps to tone and strengthen the middle deltoid muscle of your shoulders

Reps and sets: You can do 2-3 sets of 10-15 Reps

Words of Caution

These are some critical points that can help guide you through a proper upper body exercise routine:

  • A cool-down or stretch is as important as a warm-up. It helps the muscles to relax,  heart-rate to slow down, and the body to normalise. Ensure you spend a minimum of 5 minutes cooling down once you have completed your workout.
  • Pace your workout. Listen to your body and do as much as it can take. Start with smaller weights. Increase them gradually when you feel you are ready. If you feel pain or a cramp, stop and stretch immediately. Most importantly, do not overdo the workout to reach your milestones merely. This is important to avoid injuring yourself.
  • The form or technique is critical to enjoy the greatest benefits of the workout and prevent yourself from getting hurt. Take it slow initially, but work on getting the form right. An improper form is hard to correct once it becomes a habit.


There is nothing like an invigorating upper body exercise to help you feel toned and energised. Use this workout plan at least twice a week and watch your upper body build in strength and size. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Should I do an upper body exercise every day?

A. The muscles need rest as much as they need exercise. Doing an upper body workout every day may wear-out or injure them. Alternate your workout with other exercise plans and limit your upper body exercise to twice or thrice a week.

Q. How can you do an upper body workout without dumbbells?

A. Weights are important for these upper body exercises, especially as you progress. If you do not have dumbbells, you could use any other weighted objects you’ve at home. Water bottles work well.  

Q. What can I use instead of resistance bands?

Resistance bands provide elasticity and work the muscles harder using the resistance in them. If you do not have a set of bands, use elastic leggings, tights, or stockings.

Q. Is it mandatory to do a warm-up before the workout?

Warm-ups are very important, as they help your muscles loosen up. If you don’t warm-up, your muscles might cramp, and you would feel more pain. 

Q. Is an upper body exercise alone sufficient?

It is always best to work all parts of your body to help maintain a good overall tone. Alternate your upper body exercise with lower body training, core, and cardio exercises.

About the Author

Saravanan “Sharu” Hariram is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer with a passion for bodybuilding. Combining his love for fitness with his career, Sharu did his certification in Sports Nutrition, and Rehabilitation and Healing Nutrition. Currently a Master Trainer with HealthifyMe, he specializes in Weight Management, Marathon Training, and Physical Rehabilitation. In his 20+ years of experience, Sharu has always maintained that one’s mind must have control over their body in order to lead a healthy life. At HealthifyMe, he continues to follow his passion while helping those around him realise their fitness goals.

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2 responses to “7 Killer Upper Body Exercises to Get You Fit”

  1. Hello Saravanan,
    Thanks for this beautiful article. Daily exercise is the best thing to start a day with. Getting in shape not only boost your physical strength but also makes you mentally strong. These 7 exercises are the one of the best reason to your physical goal and add some more healthy days to your life.

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