Metro Weekly

30 Minute Upper Body Workout

With the average person working more hours, long commutes, and social commitments that seem to overrun your calendar, it can be difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to fit in a substantial workout. I’ve struggled with this myself. I’ve worked, tested, reworked, and developed this short workout designed to give you the best minute-for-minute burn. You’ll leave sweating and pumped.

Upper Body

Flat Bench Press. You want to go heavy on this: 3 sets of 5 repetitions. If you’re doing 6 or 7 reps every set, you need to go heavier. Rest for 2 minutes between each set. These will tax your nervous system, and you should feel exhausted after them.

Incline Dumbbell Press. After the flat bench, rest for another 2 minutes and get over to the free weights where you’ll do 2 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. The idea for this is to burn the muscle out, and produce sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (muscle growth). One trick I see people struggling with, as they move up in weight, is getting the weights from the ground to over your shoulder. If you don’t have a spotter to hand you the weights at the top, here is a quick trick to getting them up there.

Shoulder Shocker. You’ve already finished your two main movements. Now it’s time to burn a few things out, and get moving. I pulled these movements from a great article over at T-Nation.

I only do 2 sets, and believe me, you’ll need to check your ego at the door and go down in weight to get this done. Start with 12 repetitions of front plate raises, a 25 or 45 pound plate. Next, lateral raises with dumbbells; another 12 reps. Finish off with 12 strict clean and press. That’s one set. Rest for as long as it takes to catch your breath, and do it again.

Back Burner. This set of movements is something I scoffed at when I first saw it. “How can that produce any kind of growth?!” I exclaimed. Then I tried it. One set includes two movements of 15 repetitions each. For the first movement, grab two dumbbells of moderate weight. Put an arch in your lower back, and bend over no more than 15 degrees. You do not need a lot of bend for this to work. Slow contract your scapula, and traps back lifting the weight (and this is important) without bending at the elbows. The dumbbells will only move a few inches. Do that for 15 reps. Immediately after finishing, move into the next segment. You start this movement the same as before, but instead of leaving your arms at a dead hang, pull your elbows back to create a full contraction in the lats. After finishing fifteen, put the weights down long enough to catch your breath and repeat.

Lying Triceps Extensions. For triceps, grab an EZ-Curl bar (the one with kinks in it). Lie down on a flat bench, gripping the bar over your chest. I use the wider grips because my shoulders are wide, for more narrow shoulder length, grip the inside. Start the movement by bending at the elbow and lower the weight to your forehead (similar to skull-crushers). When the weight is about halfway through the path to your forehead, release the elbows and lower the weight behind your head and toward the ground. It takes some time to get used to the distance, but just before it touches the ground, explode up with the weight, only straightening out the elbows after your triceps are at a 90 degree angle with the floor. Again, do this for as many repetitions as possible. When you are about to fail, just set the weight down behind the bench, on the floor and admire your pump in the mirror.

Incline Dumbbell Curls. My favorite bicep exercise. You will need low weight for this, to do right. Let your arms hang completely extended on a bench raised to 45 degrees. Curl the weight up, one at a time. At the top of repetition, turn your wrist outward to create a full contraction. Slowly lower the weight, again, to full extension, and then lift the opposite side. Execute this for until you can no longer curl the weight up. Keep the repetitions the same for each arm. If you fail one side, you’re done.


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Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at