How to Make Your Upper Body Instantly Appear More Muscular

How to Make Your Upper Body Instantly Appear More Muscular

This simple workout will give you the best upper-body pump of your life

When I’m short on time and not feeling up to heavy strength work, this is one of my go-to workouts. You simply set the clock for 5 minutes and pump out as many quality reps as you can for a handful of moves that work your entire upper body.

Why is this high-rep, low load method so effective?


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A recent study showed that you can gain just as much muscle with lighter weights as you can with heavy loads as long as you go to failure (or push just as hard). Lighter loads are also easier on your joints and burn more calories and fat.

Best of all, this type of training causes your muscles to fill with blood, water, and nutrients, creating an amazing muscle pump that can trigger new growth.

Related: How a Muscle Pump Helps You Build Size and Strength

For the loaded exercises, choose loads that you can do 15 to 20 reps with in a single set.

Do as many quality reps as you can, but avoid going to failure. In other words, leave at least a couple reps in the tank on each set.

Take 10 to 20 second rest periods between sets and keep pumping away until time is up. You’ll start with higher reps like 15 to 20 and then progress to lower rep sets like 10, 5, etc., as you fatigue.

For the bodyweight moves, just accumulate as many reps as you can in 5 minutes, starting with sets of half as many reps as you can do all-out in a single set.

So if you can do 12 pullups, start with sets of 6 reps. If you can’t do at least 10 pullups in a single set (not many people can), just modify with assisted pullups to keep your reps up.

Related: How to Get Better At Pullups

Here’s a 7-move workout that follows this protocol. Do each exercise in the order shown for max reps in 5 minutes. Rest 1 minute between exercises.

1. Neutral-grip pullup (or assisted pullup or row)
2. Barbell bench press
3. Chest-supproted T-bar row
4. Barbell overhead press
5. Barbell high pull
6. Preacher curl
7. Bodyweight triceps extension