Upper body exercise involves working the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and chest. Not only are they easier to do, you also tend to see results more quickly. So how do you know how many push ups to do, when to take a break, and so on? Start by trying out these moves below:
  • Do as many push ups as you can without taking a break. Don't stop because you're tired—stop because you cannot physically do another push up.
  • Take the total number of push ups you were able to do and cut that down to half. For example, if you did 30 push ups total that would result in the number 15.
  • Next time you do your push ups, do three sets of that number (15 in our example) with 60-90 seconds breaks in between. If you can manage to do more on the last set, you should.
As you get stronger, you'll need to increase the number of push ups you do in each set. If things are getting too easy for you, add another 2-5 push ups to each set to make things more challenging (you can also use this same method for any of the exercises in the upper body section). So let's explore those target areas shall we?

Push Ups

This works several muscles but also targets the muscles in your chest (the pectorals), the rounded part of your shoulder (deltoids) , and on the backside of your upper arms (triceps). Good form is vital, below is an detailed explanation how to perform the exercise properly:


Dips are a great upper body-strengthening exercise you can do using a chair or a bench. Not only do they strengthen many of the same muscles as push ups, they'll do a bit more to work the rhomboid muscles in your back. Below is a demonstration on how to maintain the proper form:

Dips is also one good way to quickly build up strength, but if you want to start smaller just follow the method described at the beginning of this section to figure out the right number of dips for you.


If building your biceps is important to you, the best thing you can do to keep the workout at home is go buy some dumbbells at various weights and use them to perform these moves below. You could also make do by using anything with a handle and even weight that you might have around the house: a backpack lets you distribute the weight evenly and can keep it from shifting within the bag; a gallon of milk or juice, or some other kind of container with a handle that can be filled with liquid works just as well.

If you have two even weights, you can perform curls with both arms at the same time. If not, one arm at a time is okay. To start, extend your arm down by your side and hold the weight, palms facing forward. Make sure your elbows are tucked and your shoulders are straight. When you're in position, slowly bring the weight up to your shoulders—not outside of your shoulders and not too far into your chest. When you're doing curls it is vital that you go all the way up and all the way back down each time:

Start off with three sets of 12 repetitions. If you find you cannot handle this many, the weight you are using is too heavy and you should start with something lighter. In time, you'll be able to increase the amount of weight you're using about every 2-3 weeks. Start slow and light and you'll be rewarded for it.

Important: Follow the instructions below before starting out on a new routine.
BREATHE: When the body is under tremendous stress, it's important to ensure that you keep things flowing through your breathing. Exhale when you do the hard work (e.g. the pushing up part of a push up), and inhale on the easier part (e.g. when you lower your body for the push up). Always take not of any special breathing instructions mentioned anywhere relevant in this post.

FOCUS ON YOUR FORM: This is to prevent any possible injury and to see results. Use a mirror to position yourself before you start exercising. If you know a professional, ask them to help guide you.

TAKE IT SLOW: Excluding aerobic exercise, it's best to start out slowly to work the muscle more and make you stronger.

PUSH YOURSELF: The key to a good work out is failure, meaning that you should keep pushing the limits of your strength until your strength is spent. Focus on working as hard as you can and perfecting your form with all of the energy you have during your workout.
When you're ready to move on to working on your core, click here.