Increasing the frequency with which you train certain body parts is an effective way to shake up your training and can lead to new gains in performance and muscle size. It can be easy to overdo it and train muscle groups too often, which can lead to fatigue and injury. To improve your upper body without going overboard, train it five days each week, but plan accordingly so you get adequate rest between muscle groups.
Push Things Forward
Start your week with a heavy pushing-focused workout. Push exercises involve moving weight away from your center of gravity and include any type of bench press, dumbbell press, overhead press, dips and pushups. This should be a strength and power-based day, to stimulate your fast-twitch muscles. Perform three to five sets of three to five reps on each exercise, advises bodybuilder and trainer Dr. Layne Norton. Don't be afraid to take long rests between sets to recover your strength, even if that means resting five or six minutes. A sample power push session could be five sets of three on flat bench presses, three sets of five on incline dumbbell presses and three sets of five on overhead presses.
Pulling for Success
Train your pulling muscles the day after your push workout. Structure this session in the same way as the heavy pushing one -- three exercises for three to five sets of three to five reps. For your pulling exercises, Lara McGlashan of Muscle and Fitness Hers advises going for pull-downs or pull-ups, bent over rows, seated cable rows and dumbbells rows.
Pushing Part Two
Take a rest day after your heavy pulling workout, then come back to the gym on day four for a volume-based upper body push session. This workout can use the same exercises as the power push workout, but with a higher rep range. This will train your muscular endurance and stimulate muscular growth. Pick three exercises again and complete three to four sets on each. For the first two, use a muscle hypertrophy rep range of eight to 12 per set, then increase this to a more endurance-based range of 15 or more reps per set on your third move. Make the third exercise an isolation -- either cable cross-overs or dumbbell flyes for your chest, or lateral raises for your shoulders.
Day five is all about a high volume back session. This again can be structured very similarly to the volume pushing day, using three exercises in the higher rep ranges. Use different exercises from your power pulling session this time around. If you did weighted pull-ups, seated cable rows and close-grip pulldowns in the power workout, perform body weight chin-ups, barbell rows and wide grip pull-downs here.
Finish your training week with an arm assault. Your biceps and triceps are stimulated when you perform compound pushing and pulling moves, so don't need that much extra work, but an additional day for them is useful for optimal development. To save time and get maximum results, personal trainer Tim McComsey, founder of TRyM Fitness recommends super-setting your arm exercises. Perform 12 barbell curls, then go straight into 12 cable push-downs using a V-bar and repeat this three times. Move to three sets of 12 EZ-bar curls superset with dumbbell kickbacks next and finish with three sets of 12 on bench dips and hammer curls. Take a day off, then start back on day one.