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Upper Body Exercises to Add Variety to Your Workout

With summer vacation coming to an end (and fall just around the corner) many folks are heading back to their usual routines—which can often include trips to the gym. This Week’s blog post focuses on ways you can add variety to your upper body exercises. Bust through plateaus (and boredom) with bicep curl variations, new ways to build a better chest, and medicine ball slams.

Are your boring bicep curls keeping you from big gains?

While many bodybuilders agree that bicep curls are essential isolation upper body exercises in any strength training regimen, the fact is that the body easily adapts to doing the same movement over and over again. To bust through fitness plateaus, variety is the secret to big gains. Instead of regular bicep curls, try Zottman curls—which hit all 3 major bicep muscles by having one go from overhand grips on the bottom to underhand at the top. Or isolate (and challenge) your biceps with spider curls, which have muscles work extra hard against gravity since the body is positioned on a forward incline. Even just adding fat-grips to regular bicep curls can help increase forearm activation—leading to some serious upper body shred. Take our daily quiz for more plateau-busting bicep curl variations.

How can you build a better chest? Mix it up!

While traditional upper body exercises like bench presses and pushups are known for building killer pecs, you could be making serious gains with just a few adjustments. For instance, simple changes like lowering the incline of the bench—as in decline presses—or reversing the grip can target different areas of the pecs. Doing presses with kettlebells can strengthen stabilizer muscles and improve balance/coordination. And holding the bar with the hands closer together—i.e. close grip presses—provides an extra focus on the triceps. Take our daily quiz to learn more about building a bigger chest.

Plyometrics for your upper body? You bet!

While many people think of plyometrics as explosively jumping up on boxes, plyometric exercises can also be easily adapted to upper body training—especially with the help of medicine balls. Medicine balls come in a variety of weights and sizes, but the slam ones can provide a killer plyo workout when used in slam exercises—i.e. tossing the medicine ball as hard as possible on the floor or wall. Medicine ball slams can teach coordination and are compound exercises—meaning they engage multiple muscle groups. So slams are great for improving performance in lieu of Olympic lifts since slams are less technical and use less weight, making them less likely to cause injury. Since slams are high intensity, it’s best to do them right after a dynamic warm-up—when the body’s energy reserves are still fresh. Take our daily quiz for more ways to slam your way through your next workout.

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