When it comes to upper body workouts, certain exercises are essential for targeting multiple muscle groups and achieving the best results. These exercises are known as compound movements, and they mimic natural motions, making them safe and effective for burning calories during your training sessions. Here are the six most important upper body exercises you should focus on to build muscle mass:


Pull-Ups Upper Body Exercise

Pull-ups are classic exercises that mainly target the muscles of your upper back. The movement involves a vertical pulling motion. While pull-ups are excellent for building lats, they can be challenging for some people. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry! There are progressions you can follow to work your way up to performing unassisted bodyweight pull-ups. Some variations you can try are eccentric-only pull-ups, band-assisted pull-ups, chin-ups, and weighted pull-ups.

Barbell Rows:

Barbell Rows

Barbell rows are great for building back muscles and involve a horizontal pulling motion. They require stability in your core and shoulders to execute correctly. As you advance in your training, you can lift heavier weights and see significant gains in back size. If you’re looking for variations, you can try inverted rows, seated cable rows, and dumbbell rows.

Overhead Press:

Upper Body Exercises

The overhead press targets your shoulder and tricep muscles and involves a vertical pushing motion. Like barbell rows, it demands core and shoulder stability. You can include variations like landmine press, Z press, and dumbbell overhead press to spice up your upper body workouts.

Bench Press:

chest press Upper Body Exercises

The barbell bench press is a favorite exercise for many people. It accomplishes a horizontal pushing motion and allows you to lift heavy weights. It’s crucial to stabilize your shoulders while performing this exercise. For variety, you can try push-ups, dumbbell presses, incline presses, and decline presses.


arms Upper Body Exercises

Dips can be both a vertical and horizontal pushing exercise, depending on how you perform them. They are excellent for developing triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles. Since dips are bodyweight exercises, they might be challenging at first. However, you can use progressions to build the necessary strength. Some dip variations include eccentric-only dips, band-assisted dips, and weighted dips.

Farmer’s Carry:

Upper Body Exercises

The farmer’s carry is a powerful but often overlooked exercise. It involves carrying heavy weights on both sides and provides cardiovascular conditioning, core training, and traps development. If you want to switch things up, you can try suitcase carries and waiter carries.


These six exercises are the foundation of effective upper body workouts. Including them in your training routine can help you achieve significant muscle gains and overall strength. Remember to start with appropriate progressions if you’re a beginner and focus on proper form and technique to prevent injuries. Combine these exercises with a balanced diet and rest to optimize your muscle-building results.


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