Recently, a few friends are asking me about how to improve upper body strength. A lot of women suffered from it, including me three years ago. I remember I could not complete even a knee push up when I first started strength training, and always opted for the lightest dumbbell when possible for any movement. Thanks to my colleague friend back then, who helped me build up my core and upper body strength by a lot of free weight movements. And now I can even complete a few strict form pull-ups which I never imagined three years ago.

Here below is a sample plan for beginner upper body day. I assume you have enough time to add it on top of your core training day and leg day. While doing those upper body movements, make sure you have tight core ALL THE TIME. Do not hyper extend your back which is a very common mistake. Do not swing your arm. Control your arms especially for negative movement. Tight abs, tight back ALL THE TIME (can’t emphasize this point more). Choose weight properly to make sure last 3 reps are hard to finish, but not causing injury.

Warm up, especially have upper body joints warm up (Row machine cardio can be a good warm up): 5-10 min

Wide grip Lateral Pull down 3 sets x 15

Feet elevated Push-up 3 sets x 15
Seated Row 3 sets x 15 (or single arm dumbbell row)
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 sets x 15
Dumbbell Bicep-curl 3 sets x 15
Dumbbell Triceps kick-back 3 sets x 15
This 6 movements should keep you busy for 45 minutes, depending on your rest time in between.
Stretch and cool down : 5 min
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