5x5x5 Pulse Workout: Upper Body Workout


Calorie burn:

156 to 220





Equipment Needed:


Workout type:

Barre, Low Impact, Toning

Body focus:


Workout Details

Another round of unique and effective torture in the form of a 5x5x5 Pulse Workout, this time for the upper body.

Fitness Blender’s 5x5x5 Pulse structure works like this:
5 Repetitions
5 Pulses at the hardest range of the movement
5 Times through

Can you tell that we truly enjoy thinking of new & fun ways to give our beloved viewers sore muscles?

Depending on your upper body strength, this workout can feel fairly challenging. You are always welcome to step it up a notch by lifting a weight that pushes your own limits, or to take it down a level of difficulty by taking quick rests when you need to or even doing some of the exercises without any extra resistance.

These exercises target the pectorals, triceps, biceps, latissimus dorsi (lats), deltoids, rhomboids (upper back) and core. Even with just 5 exercises, this is a very thorough and comprehensive routine for the upper body.

Workout Structure
7 Minute Cardio Warm Up – Get your blood pumping and your muscles warmed with this short cardio intro, then jump straight into the upper body toning routine. All you need for this routine is a pair of dumbbells.

Exercises in this routine:
Push Ups – If a modified version from the knees is too easy for you, by all means do the 5x5x5 reps from a full push up position. You could even start from a full version and then move to the easier modification if and when your muscles start to give out. The pulse reps take place at the bottom of the motion, when you are hovering just above the ground.

Pullovers – The pulsing occurs when your hands are straight out above your head, just above the ground.

Tricep Extensions – The small pulsing motion happens at the point where your arms are fully extended over your head.

Bicep Curls – The midpoint of a curl, when your forearms are roughly parallel to the ground, will be the midpoint of your pulsing movement.

Overhead Presses – In between the full extension and the end of the rep when your elbows are tucked in back at your sides, this is when you will do the 5 pulses.

Afraid to lift weights because you don’t want to bulk up? Don’t be.
Women have a very hard time “bulking up”, and it takes a ton of discipline, some seriously heavy lifting, and more often than not supplementation to make it happen.

If you do this routine with a weight that makes it difficult to complete the entire 5x5x5 structure, the only thing that is going to happen is that you are going to build some lean muscle that is going to help keep you at a healthy bodyweight – remember, muscle burns more calories than fat does. You are not going to get arms like a bodybuilder and you’re not going to develop arms that are bursting from your t-shirt sleeves.

How many calories do I burn doing this?
We estimate that a person can burn 156 – 220 calories doing this workout video. Remember that these are just estimations and exact figures will be specific to your body and your fitness level.

The real benefit of a workout like this one lies in the lean muscle that you are building. More than the calories burned while you are actually doing this workout, you will expend energy at a higher rate even while you are resting if you increase your muscle content.

If you are feeling energetic or your upper body is not too worn out when the video is over, you can always repeat a second round of the 5x5x5 exercises.

Do this routine 2-3 times a week, giving sore muscles a chance to heal in between workouts. Remember to mix it up – even if you love one workout in particular, you can keep your exercise sessions more effective by frequently challenging your muscles with new variations of exercises and different training styles.



03/17/15 1:36pm

burned 185 cals and my arms are dying!


01/27/15 10:19am

Really liked this work out but the printable version and the video don't seem to correspond.


11/18/14 5:43am

This is one of my favorite workouts! I do it at least once a week.


09/06/14 3:41pm

Love this, a once though :) tough exercise. Glad the push-ups are first!


08/06/14 10:38am

Kelli & Daniel,
I want to get more muscle definition in my upper and lower body, what exercises do you recomend me do?
Thank you so much for everything you guys do, fitnessblender really changed my life!!!


08/01/14 12:25am

Today I've used 1.5kg for every exercise. For some it was good, for others I should lift less or more:
Reverse flies: 1kg
Overhead press: 1.5kg
Lat pullover: 2.0kg
Bicep Curl: 2.0kg
Overhead tricep ext: 1.5kg
Thank you for this workout!


06/16/14 6:17am

Ahhh, just did your 5x5x5 pulse workout for the lower body. Definitely trying this tomorrow!


05/24/14 3:47pm

Just did this workout for the second time. This time I did 30min of running first, I couldn't even do 2lbs all through for most, except the curl. I love this style, just wish there was a few more seconds between sets.


05/01/14 8:17am

Holy Moses! I switched to a heavier weight halfway through and had to drop back down again! A great workout with the added warm up and cool down. I really needed those stretches at the end!


02/19/14 9:05pm

What size dumbbell did Kelly use for this workout?


02/11/14 2:34pm

btw, this website is awesome! I love you guys!
I get so much motivation and I start to see results from my training! Thanks to you :D


02/11/14 2:27pm

how much is your dumbbels at?
I have 2 kg, and that's gonna kill me I am afriad of. :(


02/09/14 3:10am

I love this video. As I am living abroad and don't have access to many different weights I love the multiple repetitions. I really this workout the next day! Can we get more workouts for arm toning with more emphasis on repetitions rather than increasing the weight??


01/15/14 8:52pm

Great workout..thanks!


11/25/13 3:06am

Will this workout improve my bust?. I have bagging bust, I'm looking for something to tone up the chest area.


04/17/13 3:54am

[2013-04-17] Is there an alternative for push ups for someone who can no longer get into the half plank position due to wrist issues? I have been trying push ups on the wall, but I'm not sure if my form is correct.


03/22/13 9:45am

Great workout. Added some extra exercises before I went into the cool down, will leave my arms feeling worked. Many thanks.


07/14/12 11:09am

Thank you so much! An arm workout is just what I need :)


07/08/12 8:30am

Thank you for the warmup and cool down....much more challenging than I thought it would be. I had to drop to lighter weights!


05/16/12 1:18pm

Wow! This is a great upper body workout. I love how you have designed it with a built-in warm up and stretch/cool-down, too. Love!


05/15/12 7:57pm

Love the 5 x 5 x 5 workouts! I like that I can tell myself to push through cause all the repetitions are in one segment. Thanks so much!

fitness blender

05/08/12 10:25am

Mamaqt - It can take a while to build up the endurance and strength to do that many push ups and pulses in a row. In the mean time take a 5 to 10 second break then jump right back in until you can't possibly do any more then just hold a plank until the end or for as long as you can. This will help you build your endurance as quickly as possible.


05/08/12 9:17am

I can't do that many push ups in a row, is there any thing that i can do during that time until I'm able to completethe full cycle.


05/08/12 7:50am

Thank you for such great upper body workout !! my arms are killing me,looking for more awesome upper body workouts!!

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