Quick Fix Upper Body Workouts

Ideas for Making Your Workouts More Efficient

Woman with dumbbell
Getty Images/Tuomas Marttila

Think you're too busy to exercise?  I've got a solution for you, tips for making your workouts both more efficient and effective.  Let's start with an important group of muscles that keep us fit and strong:  The upper body.

Upper Body Workout Ideas for Busy People

You no doubt already know the when strength training, you need to work all your muscle groups, including the lower body, core and the upper body.

If you're short on time, learn how to work more efficiently with the time you do have. Below are some ideas for quick upper body workouts:

1. Concentrate on the Larger Muscles

This is a great idea for those days when you don't have time for a complete total body workout. 

What's great about the larger muscles of the chest and back is that the exercises that target those muscle groups also work the shoulders, biceps and triceps.  If you don't have time to work your entire upper body, at least work the chest and back to involve these other muscles groups as well. Try these exercises:

  • Pushup - Works almost every part of the upper body - chest, arms, shoulders, abs and back
  • Chest Press - Primary muscle: chest, Secondary muscle: triceps
  • Chest Fly - Primary muscle: chest, Secondary muscle: front shoulder
  • One-armed Row - Primary muscle: back (lats), Secondary muscle: biceps
  • Dumbbell Pullover - Primary muscle: back (lats), Secondary muscle: chest
  • Reverse Fly - Primary muscle: upper back (rhomboids), Secondary muscle: rear shoulder

2. Choose One Muscle Group a Day

You can also save time by going for one muscle group per day.  By doing that, you may only need about 10 minutes each day for your chosen muscle group.  If you do that, you do want to get the most out of that type of training.

  Here's how:

3. Try Supersets

When you alternate between one muscle group and another, this cuts out the rest time so your workouts are faster and more efficient.  You basically alternate exercises for opposing muscle groups:

4. Do Compound Exercises

This means putting together two exercises that work different muscle groups. The downside of this is that large muscle groups require heavier weights than shoulders and arms. For example, you could do a one-armed row into a tricep kickback but, chances are, the weight you need for the row is too heavy for a kickback.

This means putting together exercises in which you can use the same weight.

These are just a few ideas for being creative with your workouts which goes to show that, no matter how busy you are, there's always time for exercise!