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Strengthen Your Upper Body by
Pushing and Pulling
Part 1 of 1
By: Jackie Wright

While there are literally hundreds of upper body exercises possible, these three exercises should be exercise staples within your fitness regimen. The upper body musculature performs many functional movements. However, the primary muscles responsible for pushing and pulling are the ones we will target this and next week. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Equipment Needed: Thick grade resistive tubing, stability ball and moderate/heavy dumbbells

Unilateral Rows (Pulling) - High to Low - targets latissimus dorsi and trapezius as primary movers and the deltoids as stabilizers of the shoulder joint and core muscles to stabilize the torso.

  • Tether the tubing around a stable post or column so that the tubing will sit higher than your shoulders when in the beginning position.
  • Standing in a half-squat position, holding the tubing in both hands with the tubing and arms completely extended, rotate your shoulders back/down, lift the rib cage, pull the navel toward the spine and keep the body weight predominately in the heels to mid-foot.
  • Keep the shoulders/hip/knees/toes all facing toward the "anchor" or tether point.
  • Palms should be facing one another with the thumbs facing the ceiling.
  • Engage the lats/traps and drive the right elbow backward, sliding the under side of the arm along the side of the torso.
  • You should be moving the right scapulae toward the midline of the back.
  • Avoid rotating the torso and do not let the tubing "pull" you-scapulae remain retracted.
  • Perform one-three sets of 8-12 repetitions on each side, two to three times per week.

Bench Press - Bilateral - Stability Ball -Mod/Hvy d/b (Pushing) - Targets the pectorals as the primary movers, the triceps/deltoids as secondary movers and the core muscles as stabilizers.

  • Place the dumbbells next to the stability ball so that when you are in the glute bridge position all you have to do is reach beside the torso and pick up the dumbbells.
  • Sit on the stability ball and walk the feet out until the head is resting comfortably on the ball and the knees are directly over the heels. Your buttocks remain engaged and the lower body forms a glute bridge.
  • Hold the dumbbells with palms facing opposite of the head, creating a 90 degree angle at the elbow joint so that the dumbbells will be directly over the chest when the arms are fully extended. Avoid allowing the arms to shift toward the neck. You should be able to see your arms throughout the exercise.
  • The bench press creates an arch movement, so the arms begin at 90 degrees and then arc in toward the center of the chest with the arms fully extended and the ends of the dumbbells almost touching.
  • The shoulders are rotated back/down, rib cage lifted and the navel pulled toward the spine throughout the exercise.
  • Press from the 90 degree position up to the fully extended position, slowly and with control.
  • Perform one-three sets of 8-12 repetitions, two to three times per week.
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