The best upper body workouts are the ones that can be done anywhere with little or no equipment. Being single with no kids may allow for wasted time in the gym doing twelve sets per body part, but once in the real world of spouse, kids and job, those two hour gym visits are over. The great news is this should be a welcome change because the old school bodybuilder, weights and machines type workout routines can do more damage in the long run as compared to a smart, properly structured upper body, body weight exercise routine.
Weights and machines will always have their place in fitness – but they are not the only way to achieve a strong, well toned upper body. The right selection of body weight workouts can produce a sufficient training stimulus to bring about desired changes, continuous progress and visible results. As health clubs and fitness centers are filled with and endless amount of workout machines and weight training equipment it is in their best interest to promote weight and machine type fitness programs. Naturally, members develop a dependency on these types of workouts because they do not learn any alternative training methods. Some fitness experts argue that workouts with machines and weights are the only path to true upper body fitness. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The problems with this scenario range from the ‘more is better’ syndrome to the ‘I got out of my routine’ excuse. To develop a strong, fit and defined upper body your workouts must be realistic for long term adherence and they must consist of exercises that can be done at home or in a hotel room. As a career personal trainer and fitness consultant I’ve had the opportunity to work with many people at various stages of life. The people who live with long term fitness success are the ones who adopt their upper body workouts so that they are ‘portable’ – meaning if they don’t have a gym available to them – it’s not going to prevent them from getting their upper body workout session in. This ties into one of the essential elements of fitness success – consistency. Staying on a regular routine will yield the best long term results. Starting and stopping a routine that is unrealistic will yield harmful results.
Upper body workouts consisting of body weight exercises produce an incredible amount of natural strength while providing gender specific improvements in muscular development. While women seek more of a toning and firming effect, men seek more of a lean muscle building effect with muscle group definition. A silly fitness myth exists that has people believing that a woman will develop muscles like a man if she follows the same type of upper body workout program. The exercise program does not dictate this result. It’s the gender/genetic differences of the male and female DNA that dictate the characteristics of the results that men and women derive from well rounded, and properly structured upper body workouts. Not the type or intensity of the workout itself.
Yes, we occasionally see women who look like male bodybuilders or power-lifters – but these freakish looks can almost always be traced back to some method of pharmaceutical enhancement. For example, taking anabolic steroids to develop as much muscle mass as possible is one way for a woman to lose the fit and feminine look. Nothing against them – but they do not represent the definition of fitness.
Whether you are male or female, the benefits of properly structured upper body workouts that do not rely on the confines of a gym or fitness center can give you all the results you could ever want, in a program that can easily be followed for life. After all, isn’t that what true fitness is about?
Keep your health club membership – especially if you enjoy doing some of your upper body workouts there. But it would be wise for you to develop some bodyweight exercise routines for you to follow at home or while you are ‘on the road’ – so you don’t fall victim to over-training injuries or find yourself missing three weeks of workouts because you were ‘out of town’.