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Usually, when you think of upper body exercises that require little or no equipment, pushups tend to be the first thing we think of. Don’t get me wrong; pushups are a great exercise from the simple fact of the many different muscles they work (chest, shoulders, triceps, core). However, pushups are not the perfect exercise, because they don’t work all of your upper body muscles. Also, since many of us have more pressing strength needs (e.g., posture), pushups don’t pretty much address this need when looking for balance within our body. So what upper body exercises should we prioritize, or could we add other than just doing pushups? Here are 3 tips to follow

1.Pay attention to body movement patterns – Pushups are a good exercise that only works the anterior side (front) of your body. However, our upper bodies also move in a horizontal push (e.g., pushup), horizontal pull (e.g., back row), vertical push (e.g., shoulder press) and vertical pull (lat pulldown) motions. So to get balance in your body, you have to make sure that you do all of these movement patterns.



Horizontal Pull









Horizontal Push










Vertical Pull 









2.Recommended Exercises – You can still do pushups, but here are the other exercises I would recommend doing. A good horizontal pull would be a back row with dumbbells, bar, or even seated row, while a shoulder press is a good example of a vertical push. I would also recommend doing either shoulder lateral raises and rear shoulder flies with dumbbells. For a vertical pull, I would do a lat pulldown either with a machine or use a band.

3.What To Prioritize – You don’t have to do all the movement patterns in every workout, but the one I would prioritize for most people would be the horizontal (pull). Since most people need to strengthen their postural muscles, I would do a pulling movement in every workout.

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