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Bulking Up Successfully: Upper Body Exercises for Men

written by: Bobby Ivie • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 7/13/2011

If you are trying to get a good V-shape, you will need to build bulk in the upper body. Working out the upper back, shoulders and chest will give them the mass to taper down to reveal a trim abdomen, giving the desired V effect.

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    Three main areas of a man's body need attention when exercising the muscles: the upper body, which is the upper back, chest, shoulders and arms; the torso, or core, which is the lower back and the abdomen; and the lower body, which are the buttocks and legs. The focus of this article is the upper body and the exercises men can do for effective muscle development. There are numerous exercises for each, but the following two will get you started and give you some variety in your workouts.

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    Upper Back

    bodybuilder award The Stiff-Arm Pulldown

    Primary Muscles worked: Lats, Teres Major, Rear Delts (deltoids), Lower Traps and Biceps

    This is a great exercise for a V-shape, as the lower traps are worked to help the taper. Further tapering is made evident in men by the development of the lats (Latissimus Dorsi.)

    To do the exercise, you need a universal gym or a machine that has a lat bar.

    • Approach the bar standing straight upright, and grab it with the palms facing down and your arms extended straight out in front of you.
    • Move the bar from a position that is shoulder high to a position that is at or just below the waist, keeping the arms straight throughout the entire move.

    Lat Pulldowns

    Primary Muscles worked: Lats, Teres Major, Rear Delts, and Biceps

    Do this from a seated position facing an overhead lat bar.

    • Grab the bar at opposite ends with the palms facing away from you.
    • Pinch the shoulder blades together, and then draw the elbows down and inward to pull the bar near the chest.
    • Use resistance when returning to the starting position.
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    Shoulders

    The Seated Shoulder Press

    Primary Muscles worked: Front delts, upper traps and triceps

    • Sit on a bench resting a barbell on your shoulders.
    • With palms facing out, push it over your head until the arms are extended.
    • Return it slowly and repeat the exercise without resting the barbell on the shoulders between repetitions.

    Front Shoulder Raise

    Primary Muscles worked: Front and middle delts

    • Stand straight up while grasping a barbell with the palms facing inward. The barbell should start at the lower position by resting on the thighs.
    • Keeping the arms straight and raise the barbell straight out in front of you with the arms extended at shoulder height.
    • Use resistance when returning to the starting position.
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    Chest

    All weightlifters dream of having a big chest. There are a wide variety exercises you can do, but the most common are the bench press and chest flies. It is important to squeeze with the chest muscles when doing these exercises, as it is easy to put so much arm strength into them that the chest gets too little exercise.

    Bench Press

    Primary Muscles worked: pecs (pectoralis major), delts and triceps.

    To perform the bench press, lie on your back on a bench while grabbing a barbell with the palms facing away.

    • Starting with the bar at chest level and push it straight up until the arms are extended.
    • Lower it back to chest level.
    • Don't forget to keep the chest tense and flexed throughout the entire movement.

    Chest Flys

    Primary Muscles worked: pecs and anterior delts

    This exercise requires dumbbells.

    • Lie on your back on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing up. Arms should be extended straight out to the sides with a small bend at the elbow.
    • With the help of the arms, squeeze the chest and the shoulder blades to bring the dumbbells in toward the chest until the weights come together while keeping the arms somewhat extended.
    • Slowly return to starting position.
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    Arms

    If time is an issue, you can leave arm exercises out. They get plenty of exercise with the other exercises. However, the stronger they are, the more of the other exercises you can do. Here is one standard exercise for each of the two upper arm muscles.

    Biceps Curl

    • Sitting at the end of a bench, rest your elbow on your thigh while holding a dumbbell with the palm facing straight up. The arm should be pointing to the inside of the thigh.
    • Start from a lowered position and bring the weight up until the forearm and the bicep come together.
    • Repeat the biceps curl until failure.

    Triceps Pushdown

    This exercise is about the same thing as the Stiff Arm Pulldown described above. The difference is that you will not have arms extended, but rather tucked in at your sides. This confines the movement to the triceps rather than the upper back.

    • Grab the lat pulldown bar with palms facing down, and the hands and elbows shoulder width apart.
    • Tuck your elbows in at your sides.
    • Starting with the bar at shoulder height, push it down toward your groin while keeping the wrist and forearm stationary. Stop the movement right before the elbows start to straighten.
    • Put resistance on the bar as you allow it to return to the starting position.

    Do these upper body exercises for men faithfully for several weeks, and you will start to see that V-shape forming. The next order of business will be to work on getting the abs as tight as possible. That will complete the formation.

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    Resources

    Information: Georgia State University

    Image: MorgueFile/clarita