Upper body training means Bench and Curls right? It’s all about the Chesticles and Guns right? Well little dude it’s a little more complex than that.
“It’s all you bro!”
While Presses and Bench Presses are important, and even Curls have their place there is more to training the upper body than this. There’s this strange, mythical area of your body known as the “back”, and you actually need to train this area – hard.
There are 2 main reasons for this:
- The muscles of the upper back need to balance out those huuuge Pecs you’re developing, otherwise you might run into postural issues and even injury.
- Few areas of the body look as good as a well developed back. Why would you not want a great back?
What a great drug free back – why wouldn’t you train it?
I will make this easy, and give you 3 priorities for upper back training (lower back is a whole other subject)
- Face Pulls: this one exercise will correct 90% of the postural issues you could develop; this alone makes it my number one.
- Vertical Pulling: this means Pull Ups and Pulldowns along with their variations. I’m not like some who believe that Pulldowns are worthless; if pushed I admit that Pull Ups are the better option but I don’t think there’s much in it. Vertical Pulling gives you traction through the upper back area, a great stretch through the shoulders, as well as building a good amount of muscle.
- Horizontal Pulling: this section includes all types of Rowing (barbell, dumbbell, pulley), and strangely enough Cleans, and Snatches. Rows and Cleans are great mass builders but lack a therapeutic effect; whereas Snatches build less mass but can do good for shoulder health.
The reason for the 3 categories above is so that you can structure your sessions accordingly. I would suggest that if you perform 2 upper body session a week then Face Pulls, or a variation should be done in both sessions. Whereas Vertical Pulling and Horizontal Pulling can be performed just once a week.
As far as volume is concerned your main pulling exercise should be done for as many sets as you give to your main pushing exercise.
Finally I believe that the Darkside trademark, the big, thick upper back is as much to do with our lower body training as our upper body work. We perform many Squats, Deadlifts, and Good Mornings, especially with Chains or Bands, and I believe these have played as much a part in our overall back strength and size as anything else.
For more information on upper body training please listen to the following episodes of The Mighty Cast:
- Mighty Cast Episode 17 – Upper Body Assistance
- Mighty Cast Episode 13 – The Bench Press
- Mighty Cast Episode 9 – The Press