5 Great Upper Body Weightlifting Exercises

There are so many upper body weightlifting exercises.  Sometimes it is hard to know what exercises to choose when starting a routine.  If you are in this boat, here are some suggestions. Below are 5 great upper body weightlifting exercises.    

Bench press/chest press

  • Lay down on back on a weight training bench or floor
  • Start with weights at chest level
  • Press weight up and inwards
  • Lower the weights back down to chest

Shoulder press

  • Start in a standing position with feet shoulder width apart (can also sit on a bench)
  • Hold weights with palms facing outward, just outside of shoulders
  • Engage your core, lower your shoulders
  • Press weight straight upwards over head
  • Lower in a slow, controlled manner


  • Stand with one weight in right hand
  • Lift arm straight up over head
  • With elbow up, bend arm at elbow and dip weight behind your head
  • Lift back up above head
  • Repeat with left arm

Renegade Rows-back

  • In plank position holding hand weights, lift right hand and weight back to the “pocket” at your waist/butt
  • When doing this motion, keep your hips level to the floor and weight even (do not shift weight to side)
  • Bring weight back to plank starting position
  • Repeat on left side

Bicep 21’s

  • These movements break down a bicep curl into 3 motions
  • Place dumbbell in each hand, palm facing out
  • Arms are straight down at the side of body
  • Lift arm to waist height, slowly lower
  • Repeat 7 times
  • Starting at waist, lift arms to shoulder height
  • Repeat 7 times
  • Starting at waist, lift arms to shoulder height (complete bicep curl)
  • Repeat 7 times

A goal to work towards is to do each exercise 12-15 times per set.  Complete 3 sets.  I like to combine exercises in sets.  As an example, do 15 bench press, 15 shoulder press, and 15 triceps (on each arm) as one set.  Complete 3 times. The second combination is to do 15 renegade rows and the bicep 21’s. Repeat this set 3 times.  These 5 great upper body weightlifting exercises make up a workout plan that could be done 2-3 days a week.

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