Upper Body Exercises: The 6 Categories - Deepstash

Upper Body Exercises: The 6 Categories

The vast majority of upper body exercises will fall into one of the following six categories:

  1. Horizontal Pushing
  2. Horizontal Pulling
  3. Vertical Pushing
  4. Vertical Pulling
  5. Elbow Flexion
  6. Elbow Extension

Why should you care about any of this? Two reasons:

  • Effectiveness
  • Designing a workout with these six categories in mind will help ensure that every upper body muscle group is being trained, and you’re using each available movement plane  to do so.
  • Injury Prevention And Balance
  • Designing things this way also helps to keep everything balanced around the joints

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Here’s what the 4-day and 3-day versions of this split look like:

The 4-Day Upper/Lower Split

  1. Monday: Upper Body
  2. Tuesday: Lower Body
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Upper Body
  5. Friday: Lower Body
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

The 3-Day Upper/Lower Split

Week 1

  1. Monday: Upper Body
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Lower Body
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Upper Body
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Week 2

  1. Monday: Lower Body
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Upper Body
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Lower Body
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

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An upper body workout is any workout that involves training most or all of the muscle groups of the upper body. This includes:

  • Chest
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Triceps

While not required, upper body workouts are most often done as part of an upper/lower routine , which involves training the entire upper body on certain days and the entire lower body on others.

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An elbow extension exercise is any movement in which the weight is being moved away from your torso strictly as a result of extending at the elbow. Most triceps extension exercises  fit into this category. For example:

  • Triceps Pushdowns
  • Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
  • Skull Crushers
  • Triceps Kickbacks

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A horizontal pushing exercise is any movement in which the weight is being pushed out in front of you so that it’s traveling away from your torso in a horizontal plane. Most chest exercises  fit into this category. For example:

  • Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Decline Bench Press
  • Flat/Incline/Decline Chest Press Machine
  • Push-Ups
  • Dumbbell/Cable/Machine Flyes

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A vertical pushing exercise is any movement in which the weight is being pushed upwards in relation to your torso in a vertical plane. Most shoulder exercises  fit into this category. For example:

  • Barbell Shoulder Press
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Machine Shoulder Press
  • Lateral Raises
  • Front Raises

(Note: Lateral raises and front raises are technically not “pushing” movements, but they still fit best in this category. “Vertical raising” movements would be more accurate.)

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A horizontal pulling exercise is any movement in which the weight is being pulled in towards your torso from out in front of you in a horizontal plane. Most back “rowing” exercises  fit into this category. For example:

  • Bent Over Barbell Rows
  • Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • T-Bar Rows
  • Chest Supported Rows
  • Inverted Rows
  • Various Machine Rows
  • Various Rear Delt Exercises

(Note: Even though the rear delts are a part of the shoulder, they fit best in the horizontal pulling category with these types of back movements).

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A vertical pulling exercise is any movement in which the weight is being pulled down towards your torso in a vertical plane. Most back “pull-up/pull-down” exercises  fit into this category. For example:

  • Pull-Ups
  • Chin-Ups
  • Lat Pull-Downs

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An elbow flexion exercise is any movement in which the weight is being pulled towards your torso strictly as a result of flexing at the elbow. Most biceps curling exercises  fit into this category. For example:

  • Barbell Curls
  • Dumbbell Curls
  • Cable Curls
  • Preacher Curls
  • Hammer Curls

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The P.A.U.L. method (10 minutes)

Choose one exercise for each of the following four categories:

  • P- Plyometric cardio (e.g., Jumping Jacks)
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Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. After performing all four exercises, rest 30 seconds and start again

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