3 Day Better Upper Body Workout With Minimal Equipment

3 Day Better Upper Body Workout With Minimal Equipment

I watch the Office a lot. In fact, I watch re-runs almost daily. I suppose it's a mental pressure release valve. I can turn it on and watch it without watching ya know? It's like 20 minutes of non-doing.

But every once in a while, I'll notice something that catches my attention. Something that I failed to notice before.

In the last episode I just watched, Michael Scott, the regional manager of the mid-sized paper company Dunder Mifflin walks in with in a pep in his step.

Related: Muscle and Brawn Fast Start Beginner Workout Routine

He approaches Pam, the reserved receptionist and asks her, "Did you see Oprah yesterday?"

Pam says, "no."

Then almost before she could finish a one word sentence Michael blurts out, "I'm going to be a father."

With a shocked looked no her face displaying the fact that Michael is unfit to be a father, she asks him, "What was Oprah about?"

Michael responds with, "Angelina Jolie was on the show. She said she adopted a baby from Asia and it changed her life. And that really inspired me. So I want you to look into how much a little Chinese baby would cost."

Pam hesitantly replies with "That's a really big decision. Maybe you should wait to adopt. My sister looked into it and the application costs about $1,000 dollars."

Michael spits back with an amusing look on his face, "Find out if there is a less expensive baby out there."

Pam seemingly not hearing what he has to say wraps up this absurd conversation with, "The waiting period is also a minimum of eight months."

Then, that sophomoric enthusiasm that Michael walked in with stars to tuck its tail. He says, "Wow, I don't even know if I want a baby in eight months."

"You probably won't," says Pam.

Here's my point: Inspiration drives emotion and emotions are like roller coasters - up and down. Getting inspired is easy. For Michael it was watching Oprah. And it drove him to almost act on an emotion that he wasn't fit to fulfill. Luckily, Pam brought him back to earth.

In the fitness world, it's incredibly "Oprahed." Meaning, with all the media that gets pumped into your feeds and screens, you can get inspired with a click, double-tap or retweet.

If you've ever been "Oprahed" you know what it's like. A sudden rush of excitement fills every corner of your body.

You can take the world on. You can win the CrossFit Games. You can qualify for the Olympia. You can gather 1M followers on Instagram. You can take on that training program that Mr. Everything does (even though he has 20 years of experience on you).

If you don't have a Pam in your life, you can run with the unicorns and see what happens. But, I'm here to be your Pam today. I'm going to help you put things into perspective without deflating your dreams.

Here's the deal.

A lot of the athletes you follow or look up to have mastered the basics. And because of this, they have allowed themselves to progress to more advanced methods that work for them.

If they started with a six-day double split, using chains and bands to prevent accommodation with waving loads throughout the week, they would have burned out and possibly developed bad habits. Maybe even injury along the way.

They worked up to that level of training. And that's exactly what you should do as well.

I'm not saying don't shoot for the moon - but I am saying make sure your rocket ship is fit for travel before you take off. One of the ways you can do that is with body-weight training.

In this piece we'll focus on the upper body. And to do that, I'll equip you with a workout based on two movements: The push up and the chin up.

For each of these movements, you'll see a variation of each to make sure we balance the attack. But nonetheless, you'll walk away with a rock-solid upper body workout with minimal equipment.

And if you're worried about getting jacked (assuming bodyweight movements don't cut it), just take a look at a gymnast.

Don't believe me? Google Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti. You'll return to this post eager to start pushing and pulling your own bodyweight.

3 Day Minimal Equipment Workout

Day one workout


Day one will be a task priority workout. Meaning, the number of reps required are fixed and the time you complete them in counts as the variance.

Old school lifters like Bill Pearl used task priority as a method. He often recommend that for the non-freaky lifter, 25-50 reps was a good rep range. Ronnie Coleman too was an advocate of task priority training. He recommended being able to do 25 pull ups, regardless of weight in as many sets as it took.

The focus on day one will be power and strength. The clapping push ups require you to apply power into the floor and are known to be toughest movements on the chest, tri's and biceps for a push up variation.

The parallel grip chin ups offer a mechanical advantage which will allow to do more reps and hit the biceps as a secondary muscle group.

  • Clapping Push Ups: 100 reps
You'll set up in regular push up position. Then, lower yourself with a tight midline (no saggy hips) and when you get to the bottom of the push, instead of performing a normal rep, you'll push up with enough power to lift yourself off the floor. Generate enough power so that both hands leave the floor at the top of the rep. Once you reach the peak, clap your hand together before catching yourself and lowering into the next rep.
  • Parallel grip chin ups: 100 reps
Two things before we get into the execution of this movement. If you don't have chin ups yet, you can practice with a pull up assist machine or use bands as assistance. If you train at home and don't have parallel grips attached to your power rack, just throw on a v-bar over the straight pull up bar and that'll settle it.

The parallel grip for a chin up is the strongest grip for elbow flexion. Thus, this grip allows you to do more reps - and if you're heavier lifter it makes your life easier.

Secondly, the parallel grip chin up attacks the inferior lats lats which are made up of high-fast twitch fibers so training them with lower reps per set is sound. 7-10 reps per set is ideal. If you're cranking more than that per set, throw a weight belt on and wrap a dumbbell through.

Day two workout

Day two you'll transition into a muscle endurance workout where time is the priority. In other words, you'll be performing as many reps as possible in a given time domain.

This is also known as an AMRAP - as many rounds as possible.

Set your phone or watch for 12 minutes. Once the clock starts, your aim is to get as many reps as possible. If you haven't done a time priority workout ever, be prepared.

Twelve minutes sounds like a workout for your 62 year old Asian mother. But, I promise you at around five minutes, it'll feel like you have an eternity ahead of you.
  • A1: Three push-up burpees 10 reps
In this version of the burpee, you'll perform three push ups at the bottom position before initiating the jump clap. Each rep will contain three push ups at the bottom.
  • A2: Thick bar Aussie pull up 10 reps
The Aussie pull-up (aka the inverted row) is a potent tool for upper back development. But we up the ante and throw in some grip and forearm work in this movement by strapping on some fat gripz to the barbell.

You'll set your barbell in a power rack so it sits at your lower thighs if you're standing in front of it. Next, strap on your fat gripz so they are about shoulder width apart.

Then you'll get down under the bar with your legs extended so you form a straight line from your head to your toes. With your hands gripped on the barbell, your arms are acting like cables at this point.

To initiate, you'll activate the lats and upper back driving the elbows into your rib-cage. Be sure that you pull with your back instead of initiating from the elbow.

Pull yourself up until your chests touches the bar and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top. Lower and repeat.

Day three workout

Day three will be hypertrophy focused. We do this by arranging the reps and manipulating the tempo to make sure the muscles get taxed.
  • Valslide flyes with three second eccentric: 10 sets of five. Rest 90 seconds.
The Valslide flye is one of my favorite body weight movements for chest development. I believe it's one of the most underrated movements today.

During each phase - eccentric and concentric - your pecs are under siege screaming for relief.

Even though it looks like a workout DVD movement, I promise you these are way harder than they look. But if you're serious about building up your chest, flyes need to be in your game.

You'll start on your knees and extend out into push-up position. With a slight bend in the elbows, you'll slide your arms out until your face is almost touching the ground. Then, you'll reverse the movement by sliding your arms back into starting position.

A few notes on this one:
  1. If you have any shoulder issues, this movement can be tricky. Start by doing half-reps and build your tolerance.
  2. This is an advanced movement. Poor midline strength and underdeveloped chest muscle might result in a face plant as you descend. You've been warned. Start by doing half-reps from the knees to assess yourself.
  3. If you're a ninja, do these from standard push up position (knees not on the floor).
  • Wide grip pull up with 3 second eccentric. 10 sets of 5. Rest 90 seconds.
The hallmark of a physique is the V-taper. The muscle group that plays a big role in that look is the entire latissius dorsi (the lats).

Wide grip pull ups have few competitors when it comes to building those wings. Therefore, loading them up with a three second eccentric phase in each rep ensures you attack them fully.

You'll assume a grip on a pull up bar with a wide grip. To initiate you'll want to pull up while driving your elbows down. Once you reach the top of the movement, lower yourself with a three count. Once you reach starting position, repeat.

If you're a heavier lifter or haven't developed your pull up game yet, you can use the pull up assist machine. This will allow you to get more reps in with increased time under tension on the lats.

Wrapping Up

You now got a game plan to build that upper body. And I've hooked you up with a program that requires minimal equipment.

And three days?

If you can't find three days to train, and you say you want an upper body that makes a white T-shirt from a drugstore look awesome, you're only fooling yourself.
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