Build Upper-Body Muscle With This Two-Day Workout

November 29, 2012 | Bill DeLongis

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As an athlete, you don't need to spend three hours in the gym when attempting to build muscle. It's simply not practical, and when combined with your sport practices and games, it can actually lead to overtraining and chronic fatigue.

However, this doesn't mean you can't bulk up. Try the following two-day upper-body superset workout instead of working your chest, back, shoulders and arms on separate days. By pairing two exercises together, you get twice as much work done in the same amount of time. (Discover the 5 best supersets for athletes.)

This is possible when you superset exercises that work opposing muscle groups. For example, perform a set of Bench Presses and follow it up with Bent-Over Rows. Although you won't rest between exercises, your muscles will have a chance to recover when you perform the opposite exercise.

Not only is this time-efficient, but working more muscle groups releases additional muscle-building growth hormone, improving your overall conditioning and creating better balance between muscles.

Guidelines

  • Rest only as long as it takes to get from one exercise to the other, then rest one minute between supersets; e.g.,  perform 1a, then immediately perform 1b and rest one minute before repeating.
  • Since the goal is to build muscle, time under tension (how long a rep takes) is crucial; make sure to take three or four seconds to lower the weight on each exercise.
  • Attempt to increase the weight used or reps performed each week. Write down what you did each workout, so the next week you have a benchmark you can try to exceed. If you cannot get at least eight reps with proper form, decrease the weight; if you can hit 12 reps, increase it.
  • Make sure to warm up before all workouts. Check out this article on common warm-up mistakes.
  • Each workout should last no longer than an hour, including your warm-up and eight to 10 minutes of core work.
  • Another two days should be devoted to your lower body. Take 48 to 72 hours off between upper-body days and lower-body days.

Your week can look like this:

  • Monday: Upper
  • Tuesday: Lower
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Upper
  • Friday: Lower
  • Weekend: Off

Day 1

1a. Push Press or Shoulder Press: 3x4-8
1b. Pull-Ups: 3xMax
2a. Push-Up Variation: 3x8-12
2b. Incline Row: 3x8-12
3a. TRX Inverted Row: 3x12
3b. Band Pull Apart: 3x20
4.   4-Way Shoulder Raise: 2-3x12 each
5a. Bicep Curls: 2-3x12
5b. Triceps Pushdowns: 2-3x12

Day 2

1a. Bench Press: 3x8-12
1b. Lat Pulldown or Chin-Ups: 3x8-12
2a. Incline Chest Press: 3x8-12
2b. Single-Arm Row: 3x8-12
3a. TRX W Raise: 3x15
3b. Band or Cable High Row: 3x15
4.   Shrug Pull: 3x8
5.   Forearms/Grip

See a sample forearm workout and check out STACK's Build Muscle Guide for more ideas on how to build muscle mass.

Bill DeLongis
- Bill DeLongis, CSCS, is the assistant director of speed, strength and conditioning at Stony Brook University, where he works with baseball, volleyball, men's lacrosse, women's...
Bill DeLongis
- Bill DeLongis, CSCS, is the assistant director of speed, strength and conditioning at Stony Brook University, where he works with baseball, volleyball, men's lacrosse, women's...

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