Is there anything you found that caused significant increase in mass and strength for the upper body?
What set and rep schemes seemed to work the best? 5x5, 3x8, 5x10, 1-3 rep powerlifting style?
Which exercises got you moving? Bench, inclines, more back work, shoulder work flys, chin-ups?
And if anyone says squats I'll slap you.
Squats, deads, 5x5, and 200g of protein a day worked for me. I never did any of those for the 15+ years I worked out off and on, and I never could crack 190 lbs of bw, or 235 on bench...now I'm 215 and bench 315 in just about a year (up from 176 lbs bw and 180 lb bench when I started). I always used to do 3 sets of 12 on everything, and basically did nothing but accessory work, with some bench mixed in.
"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." --James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788
If for some reason I was limited to only doing one upper body exercise for the rest of my life, I would choose the Weighted Bar Dip.
No other upper body exercise has worked me as hard as the bar dip. It really works the chest, shoulders, arms, and even the upper back. I'd do it progressively with moderate reps and sets, say 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps.
Of course doing ALL pushing will lead to overuse, so I'd have to throw in a pulling exercise...
If I had to choose one upper body pulling exercise to pair with the dips, it would be Torso Supported 1 Arm Dumbbell Row for it's effectiveness and safety. Paired with the Dips, the Row would give me balanced and complete development of the upper body.
I powerlift. But when I did train for hypertrophy I responded well to a 4x8. And heavy squats will not make you upper body big. It may help a little, but people have taken that message and grossly perverted it. I love the squat, my favorite exercise. Definitely the best movement for overall size, but not even close for one of the best exercises for upper body size or strength.
Although to directly answer the title, food has made my biggest gains. It wasn't till I truly understood the importance of food that my lifts and size sky rocketed.
Just for argument's sake... The squat is not a great upper body focus exercise because it does not work it directly enough. However, if all you did was squat and nothing else, your upper body will grow, so that should tell you something right there. And by simply adding the squat, your upper body exercises become more productive.
Re the squat thing.
OK, I love the squat, its my favourite exercise. When I started lifting again a couple of years ago I did a 5x5 which most people nowadays would probably call starting strength and I grew all over. I got horrendous stretch marks on my pecs, shoulders, back and arms even though my bench never got that impressive. I can only put that systemic growth down to squatting 3x a week and eating. Sure, the bench, rows, chins and presses helped but the squat was the engine that drove my overall progress.
The problem now is that my bench and overhead press have never got better. This has been made worse by a shoulder and wrist issue, which caused me to really neglect my pressing work. Using 5x5, and using low rep stuff my squat and dead have consistently increased but I'm just completely stuck with pressing, and those lifts are way lower than they should be. I need to add some size and strength there to even things up.
This thread wasn't meant to be only about me though. I just wanted to start a general discussion on what worked for different people.
It's basic kinesiology as you mentioned it does not directly hit your upper body. Rather than the static contractions due to holding the bar in place.
For me it would have to be the deadlift. Properly done it probably has the single biggest effect on both strength and mass to your body (provided sufficient caloric intake and recuperation.) Squats would be a close second.
Last edited by Songsangnim; 03-28-2010 at 10:44 AM.
There really wasn't one special exercise that did the trick for me. Rather it was a combination of heavy work mixed with super high rep sets.
How did you set that up? In Chris Mason's article about building a big back he recommends a couple of exercises in the 12-30 range to increase time under tension and engorge the muscles with blood after doing heavy 6rep sets. Which makes sense. Has anybody else on the board got good results with mixing low rep and high rep work like this?
Inc BP 3 x 6
Pendalay Row 3 x 6
BP 2 x 6
Seated Row / Tbar 2 x 6
Weighted Dips 2-3 x 6-8
Weighted Pullups (palms out) 2-3 x 6-8
Id have another day on a 5 day split where itd be similar except Id use DB the next time so like
Inc DB BP
DB Row etc...
Heres my 5/3/1 log with videos! New to the forum and powerlifting, feel free to stop by!
weighted chins and military press...jesus what a diference after i started these.
interesting I've thoughts about incorporating some 30+ rep stuff into my routine. I'll think I've give it a shot and see how I respond to it.
Deadlifts helped me out, quite a bit. Then pullups and sohp have helped. Eating helped the most.
@drummer - have you considered doing 5/3/1 for bench and sohp? I started that sometime last year and both lifts are still progressing for me.
Give chalk a chance.
49 years old