The Best Upper-body Workout

If you could only do four exercises for the upper-body, then this would be the best upper-body workout. This workout hits the front and rear delts, the lats and upper trapezius. All super important muscles for good upper-body strength.


4 Upper-body Exercises

  1. Shoulder press
  2. Bent-over dead row
  3. Pull-up
  4. Shrug



  • Anterior delt
  • Posterior delt
  • Lats
  • Upper trapezius


Repetitions and rounds:

4 – 6 – 4 – 6 x 2 rounds @ 90%

6 – 8 – 6 – 8 x 2 rounds @ 80%

8 – 8 – 8 – 8 x 2 rounds @ 70%

Approx. 60+ minutes of work


Performed slow and controlled


Plenty of rest between exercises and rounds.

If your weight is very heavy, it’s ok to clean and return the weight back to the ground with two hands.

You can put the weight down during reps, in fact, I recommend it, rather than doing one after the other and rushing it, put the weight down and take your time with each quality rep.

4 reps of shoulder press at 90% of 1RM, finish one side and then do the other. Check out our book about the kettlebell press if you want the nitty-gritty on pressing a kettlebell.

6 reps of bent-over dead rows at 90% of your 1RM row, finish one side and then do the other. Because you have to hold a static hip hinge you’ll not just be working your rear delt, but also your glutes and back. Make sure you come out of the position if you feel the glutes or back is giving up. Return to dead upon each rep.

4 reps of pull-ups, return to full hang upon each rep. If you can’t come down in a controlled manner, make sure you rest before your next rep. An alternative to the pull-up will be the lat activation drill explained here.

6 reps of shrugs with 90% of your 1RM. You’ll only get little range out of this movement, don’t force a fake range by bending to the side. Pull your shoulder up with your upper trapezius.

That’s one round, repeat to make 2. Then move on doing the same exercises, the same amount of rounds (two), but increasing the reps and decreasing the weight to 80%. Same for the final 2 rounds, everything is 8 reps and the weight is 70%.

Finish off the workout with 20 tricep push-ups.

Feeling buff? Post online after you completed the workout.


FYI: I used 32kg first two rounds, then 28kg in the second set of two rounds, and 24kg in the last two rounds but stuck to the 32kg for the bent-over rows and shrugs as there was nothing heavier.

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