8 Simple Moves to Build Strength in Your Chest, Back, Arms, and Shoulders (2023)

If you're just getting started with lifting weights, you probably know you need to lift weights for all your muscle groups: The chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, core, and lower body. That sounds like a lot, but you don't need to do tons of exercises to get the benefits of lifting weights—such as losing body fat, getting stronger, feeling confident, and making other activities easier.

Beginners often start with a total body workout program, but that isn't the only option. These workouts are shorter and may fit better into a busy day. You can easily split your workouts to work for different muscle groups on additional days.

This beginner upper body workout is perfect for those who want to start strength training. It includes easy-to-follow dumbbell exercises that target all of the muscles of the upper body as well as the core. The idea is to begin building strength and muscle to create a strong foundation that will allow you to move on to more challenging workouts.

It's essential to choose your weights carefully. Err on the side of caution when you're just starting; use lighter weights so you can perfect your form. Focus on doing the exercises correctly. Once your body is used to them, you can try using heavier weights.

Beginner Upper Body Workout

  • Chest push up
  • Chest flies
  • Lat pulls
  • Back extensions
  • Bicep curls
  • Bent arm lateral raises
  • Overhead presses
  • Triceps kickbacks

Getting Started

If you have any injuries or other conditions, please see your doctor before you try this or any workout. You will need various weighted dumbbells and a resistance band. Perform this workout two or three times a week, with at least one day of rest in between.

Begin with a 5-minute warm-up of light cardio or use very light weights with each exercise to warm up the whole body. Perform each exercise for 1 set of 15 repetitions. The last rep should feel challenging but doable. Modify or skip any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Modified Push-Ups (Chest)

8 Simple Moves to Build Strength in Your Chest, Back, Arms, and Shoulders (1)

Starting on the hands and knees, walk your hands forward until your back is flat and the hands are wider than the shoulders.

Bend the elbows and lower into a push-up, going as low as possible. It's OK if you can only go a few inches at first. Make sure your head and neck align, and you aren't leading with your chin.

If this feels very challenging, walk the hands back to take some weight off the upper body. You can also try a modified version such as an incline push-upor awall push-up if floor push-ups are challenging. You may need to build your upper body and core strength to move on to more challenging push-ups.

How to Do Push-Ups: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Chest Flies (Chest)

8 Simple Moves to Build Strength in Your Chest, Back, Arms, and Shoulders (2)

Lie on a step, bench, or floor and hold weights (about 5 to 8 pounds for women, 8 to 15 pounds for men; but choose a weight that's right for you). Hold the weights straight up over the chest with the palms facing in.

Brace your core to keep the body stable, and a slight bend in the elbows as you slowly lower the arms to the sides.

Take the arms out and down, so they're just under chest level. Going too low will involve the shoulders, and you want to keep the emphasis on the chest. Also, the chest is usually stronger than the shoulders, so you can strain your shoulder muscles if you go too low. To complete the exercise, lift your arms back up to starting position.

Lat Pulls With Band (Back)

8 Simple Moves to Build Strength in Your Chest, Back, Arms, and Shoulders (3)

(Video) The Best Science-Based Upper Body Workout for Growth (Chest/Back/Arms/Shoulders)

Sit or stand and hold a resistance band in both hands. Your hands should be about 2 or 3 feet apart, although you may need to adjust your hand position to get more or less tension. The closer your hands are, the harder the exercise will be.

To start, hold the arms straight up and, keeping the left hand in place, squeeze the right side of your back and open the band, pulling the right elbow down towards your ribcage. Return to starting position and repeat. Do 15 reps with the right arm, then switch and do 15 on the left side.

How to Do a Lat Pulldown: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Back Extensions (Back)

Lie face-down on a mat and place the hands on the floor next to the ears, elbows bent. Engage your abs and slowly lift the chest off the ground, focusing on using the lower back muscles.

You can gently use your hands for support if you need to, but try using your back muscles as much as possible. Lower and repeat.

Another option is to put the hands behind the head, which is more challenging. Even more challenging: Hold the arms straight out in front of you as you lift the chest off the ground.

Hyperextension Exercises for Working Out Your Back and Glutes

Biceps Curls (Biceps)

For bicep curls, you may be able to use a heavier weight. Stand with feet about hips distance apart and hold weights in front of the thighs with the palms facing out.

Brace your abs and bend the elbows, curling the weights towards the shoulders. Make sure your elbows don't come forward but stay at your torso. Slowly lower back down without losing tension on the muscle, and repeat.

Bicep Curl Strength Exercises Using Dumbbells or Barbells

Bent Arm Lateral Raises (Shoulders)

For the lateral raise exercise, you'll wantto go a little lighter. Stand with feet about hip-width apart and hold dumbbells with the arms bent to 90 degrees, palms facing in.

Keeping the 90-degree angle, lift the arms straight to the sides, keeping the elbows in a fixed position. Lift to shoulder level. At the top of the motion, your arms should be parallel to the floor. Lower and repeat.

Develop Shoulder Strength With the Side Lateral Raise Exercise

Overhead Presses (Shoulders)

8 Simple Moves to Build Strength in Your Chest, Back, Arms, and Shoulders (4)

(Video) The Ultimate 25 Min Upper Body Dumbbell Workout for Arms, Chest, Back & Shoulders

Overhead presses are tough, so start with a lighter weight. Stand with feet about hip-width apart. Begin by bringing the weights overhead, palms facing out. Make sure you're not arching your back but keeping your core strong. If you do arch yourback, you may need lighter weights.

Bend the elbows and bring the weights down so they're at about the same level as your ears. Your arms should look like goal posts. Press the weights back up and repeat.

How to Do a Dumbbell Overhead Press: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Triceps Kickbacks (Triceps)

8 Simple Moves to Build Strength in Your Chest, Back, Arms, and Shoulders (5)

For the triceps kickback exercise, you can place your foot on a step or platform and support your body with one hand while the other side works.

Otherwise, hold a weight in the right hand and tip from the hips until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle or, if you can, parallel to the floor. Rest your left hand on the thigh to support your lower back.

Start by bringing the right elbow up so that it's right next to your back. Keep the arm in that position as you extend the right arm straight back, squeezing the back of the arm. Lower and repeat.

How to Do Kickbacks: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

A Word From Verywell

When you are starting to lift weights, it's wise to use simple exercises that are effective and efficient, like the ones above. Practice them for a while before attempting to push your limits with weight to ensure you have proper form and range of motion. If you need help with this, seek the guidance of a personal trainer.

How to Tone Your Back

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should a beginner train upper body?

    A beginner should train the upper body by incorporating one or two exercises per upper body part to do on multiple days of the week. Aim to hit each muscle group at least twice per week. If you are new to lifting weights, twice per week is enough. Choose compound and isolation exercises that use body weight, weights, or bands.

    Learn More:A Simple Beginner Arm Day Workout

    (Video) 10 MIN UPPER BODY + WEIGHTS - Alternative: Big Bottles / for back, chest, arms & shoulders
  • How do gym beginners build upper body strength?

    Gym beginners can build upper body strength by doing compound upper body exercises like push ups, bench press, back rows, and assisted pullups. Try to work your upper body twice per week with weights that challenge you. Using heavier weights with lower reps is often recommended for building strength.

    Learn More:Ways to Strengthen Your Upper Body

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Ralston GW, Kilgore L, Wyatt FB, Buchan D, Baker JS. Weekly training frequency effects on strength gain: a meta-analysis.Sports Med Open. 2018;4(1):36. doi:10.1186/s40798-018-0149-9

    (Video) Live 40-Minute Full Body Dumbbell Workout (No Repeats)

  2. American Council on Exercise. Standing Shoulder Press.

8 Simple Moves to Build Strength in Your Chest, Back, Arms, and Shoulders (6)

By Paige Waehner
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."

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FAQs

Which exercise will strengthen your arms shoulders and chest? ›

Downward Dog to plank

This exercise strengthens the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It's an excellent way to begin building strength in the top of a pushup position. To perform Downward Dog to plank: Begin in a pushup plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your arms straight.

How do I build chest and arm strength? ›

The Workout
  1. Bicep Curl to Overhead Press — 10-12 reps.
  2. Overhead Triceps Extension — 8-12 reps.
  3. Alternating Forward to Lateral Raise — 8-12 reps.
  4. Bent-Over Row — 10-12 reps.
  5. Upright Row — 10-12 reps.
  6. Skull Crusher — 8-12 reps.
  7. Chest Press — 8-12 reps.
9 Feb 2019

Is 8 exercises per workout too much? ›

The ideal number of exercises per workout session is 3-4 exercises. If you select your exercises appropriately and train them with sufficient volume and intensity, this will be more than enough to make great progress. This means: Focusing on an 80/20 split of compound to isolation exercises.

What is a good chest and shoulder workout? ›

Chest & Shoulders Workout
  • Hammer Press. 3 Sets x 20, 15, 10/10* Reps. ...
  • Incline Smith Machine Press. 3 sets x 20, 10, 10/10* Reps. ...
  • Seated Cable Fly. 3 Sets x 20, 15, 10/10* Reps. ...
  • Wide-Hands Pushup. 3 Sets x Failure. ...
  • Barbell Front Raise & Shoulder Press Combo. 3 Sets x 10 Reps. ...
  • Barbell Side Raise. 3 x 10/10* ...
  • Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly.

How do you build upper body strength without equipment? ›

5 Advanced Upper Body Bodyweight Exercises
  1. Pike push ups. Perfect for increasing shoulder strength and improving core stability, you should feel these working your shoulders, arms, chest back and core. ...
  2. Chin ups. It makes sense to look at chin-ups essentially as reverse push-ups. ...
  3. Burpees. ...
  4. Clapping push ups. ...
  5. Mountain Climbers.
3 Sept 2021

What are some easy upper body exercises? ›

7 upper body exercises to do at home
  1. Alternating punches. What it's good for: Shoulders, chest and triceps strengthening. ...
  2. Side and lateral arm raises. What it's good for: Shoulders, lateral and anterior deltoid. ...
  3. Shoulder press. ...
  4. Press ups. ...
  5. Floor tricep dips. ...
  6. Inchworms. ...
  7. Plank raise.
29 Apr 2020

How do you get big arms and chest and shoulders? ›

How to Get Big Arms & Chest at Home : Get Fit Now - YouTube

How can I build my chest fast? ›

Other chest exercises you should consider adding to your workout routine include: Flat bench dumbbell fly, bench press, incline dumbbell press, seated machine chest press and the machine decline press. Each of these exercises will work your chest muscles and give a sculpted look fast.

How do I tone my back and arms and shoulders? ›

Tank Top Arms Workout - Shoulders, Arms & Upper Back Workout

What should I workout each day? ›

What Body Parts to Work on What Days?
  • Monday: Chest and triceps.
  • Tuesday: Back and biceps.
  • Wednesday: Legs and shoulders.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Chest and triceps.
  • Saturday: Back and biceps.
  • Sunday: Legs and shoulders.
5 Mar 2021

How long should a workout last? ›

The ideal workout duration can vary significantly depending on the person, their goals, their preferences, and the exercise type. For weightlifting and bodyweight strength training, 45–60 minutes per session may suffice. Meanwhile, cardiovascular and calisthenic training may be better if performed for 30–60 minutes.

How much should you exercise a day? ›

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is important, too.

How can I build my chest and shoulders with dumbbells? ›

Complete Chest & Shoulder Home Workout | Dumbbells Only - YouTube

Should I do shoulders or chest first? ›

Because your chest muscles are larger than your shoulders, perform chest exercises first in your routine followed by shoulder exercises. However, train the shoulders first in your routine if your shoulders are your weaker muscle area.

How can I build my chest fast without weights? ›

Chest exercises at home without equipment
  1. Regular push-ups. This classic bodyweight exercise is excellent to start with as well as for keeping as a training staple in any full-body or upper-body workout. ...
  2. Incline push-ups. ...
  3. Decline push-ups. ...
  4. Plyometric push-ups. ...
  5. Time under tension push-ups.

How do you train for strength? ›

When it comes to muscle-strengthening exercise, focus on things like dumbbells, resistance bands, resistance machines, and bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats and lunges. Another thing to keep in mind: Your weekly workouts should engage all of the major muscles in your body.

What are 3 exercises for the upper body? ›

5 Upper Body Strength Exercises
  1. Chest Press: Use free weights on a bench. ...
  2. Biceps Curls and Hammer Curls: Stand facing a mirror. ...
  3. Triceps Kickbacks and Overhead Extensions: Use weight bench and put one leg on it. ...
  4. Assisted Pull-Ups and Dips: Use the machine in the weight room.
4 Aug 2020

How do beginners build arm strength at home? ›

10 Simple Arm-Strengthening Exercises
  1. Lateral Raise (Side Raise) Standing tall with your knees slightly bent, hold a dumbbell in each hand and hang your arms down by your sides. ...
  2. Overhead Extension. ...
  3. Push-Ups. ...
  4. Tricep Push-Ups. ...
  5. Bicep Curl. ...
  6. Dumbbell Row. ...
  7. Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing. ...
  8. Plank To Push-Up.
12 Aug 2021

How can I strengthen my body? ›

What are strength exercises?
  1. lifting weights.
  2. working with resistance bands.
  3. heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling.
  4. climbing stairs.
  5. hill walking.
  6. cycling.
  7. dance.
  8. push-ups, sit-ups and squats.

How long does it take to build chest? ›

While there is no set time frame given that every individual has their own pace, however, it takes almost 10 to 12 weeks to shape the chest. Since the chest is one of the bigger muscle groups, you must focus on chest days twice a week, and give at least 48 hours for the chest muscles to recover.

How long do chest muscles take to grow? ›

It takes time to really build up your pectoralis muscles to get a bigger chest. Most programs take 10- to 12-weeks of steady determination for a noticeable difference.

What exercise works the most muscles? ›

Squat. The squat is the king of all exercises. Squats hit most muscle groups in the body, with emphasis on the core and large lower body muscles. The more muscle mass and motor units recruited during an exercise, the better the exercise for burning body fat, and the squat is the best of them all.

How do beginners build upper body strength? ›

Gym beginners can build upper body strength by doing compound upper body exercises like push ups, bench press, back rows, and assisted pullups. Try to work your upper body twice per week with weights that challenge you. Using heavier weights with lower reps is often recommended for building strength.

How many exercises should I do on upper body day? ›

This means you'll be aiming to do the following in each of your two upper body workouts: Chest: 5-10 sets per workout. Back: 5-10 sets per workout. Shoulders: 2-5 sets per workout.

What arm workout goes with chest? ›

A chest and bicep superset session works better than supersetting chest and triceps because the muscle groups don't interfere with each other. A superset version of the workout could look like this: Bench press + barbell curl. Incline dumbbell press + hammer curl.

Can you workout chest and shoulders together? ›

Combining the two muscles together in the same workout will maximize training for both the shoulders and the chest, so neither muscle suffers. Moreover, both muscle groups will be able to have a full week of recovery before retraining.

How can I make my chest stronger? ›

8 best chest exercises for strength and function
  1. Incline push up. Equipment required: none. ...
  2. Flat bench press. Equipment required: barbell or dumbbells, flat bench. ...
  3. Incline bench press. Equipment required: barbell or dumbbells, incline bench. ...
  4. Decline bench press. ...
  5. Pushup. ...
  6. Cable crossover. ...
  7. Chest dip. ...
  8. Resistance band pullover.
25 Nov 2021

What should you workout with shoulders? ›

Here's an example of how you could combine muscle groups using the more detailed groups we outlined: Day 1: chest, shoulders, triceps, forearms. Day 2: calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes. Day 3: biceps, back, abdominals, traps, lats.

What workout should I do everyday? ›

What Body Parts to Work on What Days?
  • Monday: Chest and triceps.
  • Tuesday: Back and biceps.
  • Wednesday: Legs and shoulders.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Chest and triceps.
  • Saturday: Back and biceps.
  • Sunday: Legs and shoulders.
5 Mar 2021

Whats a good workout routine? ›

If you want to work out five days per week and are working on both strength and cardiovascular fitness, try three days of strength training, two days of cardio, and two days of active rest. If you want to work out four days a week, think about your goals: If you want to add muscle, cut a cardio day.

What two muscles should I train together? ›

Major Muscle Groups to Workout Together

Chest and Back. Quads and Hamstrings. Biceps, Triceps, and Shoulders. Glutes and Abdominals.

How many days a week should I workout? ›

Generally, aim to do either : 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity at least five days per week (150 minutes per week) at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days per week (75 minutes per week)

What happens if you do chest workout everyday? ›

Finally, working your chest every day will not help you grow. In fact, it will do the opposite. Muscles only grow while resting and repairing, thus it's essential to give your chest time to recover between workouts.

Can I train chest everyday? ›

Training Frequency

You can work your chest up to three non-consecutive days a week. However, if you're lifting heavy weights (enough that you can only complete six to eight repetitions), you'll need at least two to three days of rest before you perform the exercises again.

Which is best supplement for muscle growth? ›

The 6 Best Supplements to Gain Muscle
  • Creatine.
  • Protein supplements.
  • Weight gainers.
  • Beta-alanine.
  • BCAAs.
  • HMB.
  • Other supplements.
16 Jul 2017

Which body part should I workout first? ›

Joseph suggests working large muscle groups, like the chest and back, before smaller ones (triceps, biceps, and forearms) and doing multi-joint moves, such as bench presses or pullups, before isolated movements like biceps curls.

What exercise hits the most muscles? ›

Squat. The squat is the king of all exercises. Squats hit most muscle groups in the body, with emphasis on the core and large lower body muscles. The more muscle mass and motor units recruited during an exercise, the better the exercise for burning body fat, and the squat is the best of them all.

Can I train shoulders everyday? ›

Yes, you can train your shoulders frequently—but only if you're not constantly slaughtering them with heavy weights. Instead, spend more time doing exercises that strengthen your mid-back muscles and rotator cuff muscles.

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