After you’ve blasted legs with the best lifts for muscle growth, move on to the upper body. Here are the best lifts for chest, shoulders and back. See Part I for the complete workout and check out Putting It All Together for more information on how to structure your program.
7. Incline dumbbell press
This exercise effectively targets the chest and the front deltoids. Grasp the dumbbells and sit on the incline bench. Place the right-hand dumbbell on your lower quad and boost it to chest level, using your thigh. Do the same with the left-hand dumbbell. Keeping the dumbbells high on the chest, press them overhead and then return to the starting position.
8. Dumbbell fly
The dumbbell fly is one of the best chest exercises, according to EMG studies. Lying on a flat bench on your back with your feet on the floor, grasp the dumbbells with palms facing each other and arms extended above your chest. Lower the dumbbells in a wide arc to the side until the dumbbells reach the chest and shoulder level and you feel a stretch across your chest. Keep the dumbbells in line with your elbows and shoulders. Pull the dumbbells explosively toward each other in a wide arc back to the starting position.
Shoulder presses and dumbbell raises are the best exercises for building the deltoids.
9. Seated dumbbell shoulder press
From a seated position, hold the dumbbells at chest level. Push the dumbbells overhead explosively. Maintain a tight, neutral spine; keep your chest out and head neutral. Lower the weight slowly to the starting position.
10. Dumbbell front raise
From a seated position, with a dumbbell in each hand and arms straight, lift the dumbbells in front of you to shoulder level and then return to the starting position. This exercise develops the front part of the deltoid muscle. You can also do this exercise (and the other dumbbell exercises) by lifting one dumbbell at a time.
11. Seated side dumbbell lateral
Lateral raises develop the middle section of the deltoid muscles. From a seated position, with a dumbbell in each hand and arms straight, lift the weights on both sides until they reach shoulder level and then return to the starting position. Bend your arms slightly if your elbows hurt.
12. Incline Facedown Laterals
Lie facedown on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended. Pull (row) the weights upward with your arms bent and elbows held high. Return to the starting position.
Wide-grip lat pulldowns and bent-over rows are great lat activators. Pull-ups are particularly effective for people who can do them.
13. Wide-grip lat pulldown
This exercise works mainly the lats and biceps. However, it also activates the deltoids, traps and shoulder rotator cuff muscles. Begin in a seated or kneeling position, depending on the type of lat machine. Grasp the bar with arms apart and extended fully. Slowly pull the weight down until it reaches your chest. Return slowly to the starting position.
14. Bent-over row
This exercise builds the biceps and the muscles in the upper back. Hold a barbell in front of you, bend at the waist, and bend your knees slightly. Lift the bar to your chest (without jerking), and then return the bar under control to the starting position.
Next – Part III: Arms and Core