Compound Conditioning : Blog | Elite Personal Training, fitness and strength & conditioning company by Jim Diehl | Vancouver, BC

5 Key Upper Body Lifts

5 Key Upper Body Lifts

In an attempt to help everyone get more excited for training, or just add some knowledge to the pot, we're giving you our 5 favorite upper body lifts. Although science is always uncovering more insight into training, the best coaches (in our opinion) understand that we're still in a position of relying on experience. The best exercises are around because they work. It's that simple.

"If it works, it would have worked"

Please keep in mind, this does NOT include many calisthenics and/or gymnastic based movements. We're just sticking to classics on this one. 

1. Bench Press

Are you surprised on this one? Anyone that thinks this movement is 'not functional' doesn't understand the complexity of the lift, nor the huge demands on the hips, back, forearms, etc, etc. Tightness in the hips and mid back are key.

2. Pendlay Row

First invented by Glen Pendlay, this lift fixes a lot of the issues that most coaches and lifters deal with during a traditional barbell row. Namely inconsistent ROM, too much weight, and sloppy form.  Focus on keeping the back flat and neck neutral - this one is an ego killer.

3. Military Press

If you want strong triceps and deltoids this is a great place to start. This lift gives your more depth than it's dumbbell counterparts and is a prerequisite for weightlifting and crossfit. The hardest part on this one is to keep your mid back tight while avoiding on shoulder elevation. 

4. Push Up

Want a stronger chest, triceps and shoulders, without any equipment? Do push ups. With so many variations, and the versatility to do them anywhere, this one is a no-brainer. 

5. Pull Ups

Many people struggle to get their first few reps dialed, but this exercise cannot be beat for building up your back and biceps. Wide, narrow, under-hand, over-hand... There is a version to accomplish most pull goals and to fill in those gaps in your aesthetic or strength. As a general rule, wide grip equals outer/upper back, narrower equals mid/lower back (traps & lats).  

Give them a try and let us know if you have any questions. 

Keep it simple, keep it strong

-Jim Diehl