By: Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S.
Perform the following routine prior to every upper body workout. The movements will activate the muscles in your shoulders, back, chest, and arms, which helps you lift more weight and prevent injury. The exercises should take no more than 10 minutes.
Complete one set of 5 to 10 reps of each pushup version listed below. After each set rest 10 to 20 seconds and then continue on to the next exercise. Use the higher number of reps if you’ve been resistance training for more at least 1 to 2 years.
How to do it: This circuit uses variations of the standard pushup. For each movement, assume a pushup position (with your body in a straight line from ankles to shoulders), and then lower your chest to the floor. Press your body back to the starting position by straightening your arms.
Assume a pushup position with your hands set just wider than shoulder-width. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor, then push yourself back up to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Do a pushup with your hands close enough for the tips of your thumbs and index fingers to touch, forming a diamond shape.
Place your hands about twice shoulder-width apart.
Place one hand in standard pushup position and your other hand a few inches farther forward.
After you lower your body, press yourself up so forcefully that your hands leave the floor.
After completing the pushups, perform the following two exercises designed to improve range of motion in your shoulders and protect your joints before lifting heavier weights.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise and External Rotation
1-2 sets of 15 reps
Grab a light pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm’s length with your palms turned toward each other. Bend your elbows 90 degrees. Without changing the bend in your arms, raise your upper arms out to the sides until they’re parallel to the floor. Rotate your upper arms up and back so that your forearms are pointing toward the ceiling. Pause, then reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
Cable Diagonal Raise
1-2 sets of 15 reps per arm
Attach a stirrup handle to the low pulley of a cable station. Standing with your right side toward the weight stack, grab the handle with your left hand and position it in front of your rip hip, with your elbow slightly bent. Without changing the bend in your elbow, pull the handle up and across your body until your hand is above your head. Lower the handle to the starting position. Complete all repetitions with your left arm, then immediately do the same with your right arm.