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Strictly Strength Upper Body Circuits

44 Min • Upper Body
  • View on YouTube
    • Training Type Strength Training
    • Equipment Dumbbell, Mat
    • Membership Free


    Bring your light and medium weight selections to this strictly strength training, upper body-focused workout. The only (optional) jumping occurs during the warm-up, but the circuit-style training format will keep your breathing and heart rate elevated as you alternate between push and pull exercises in each circuit. Circuit training is a great fit for time-crunched days during which you want to cover multiple muscle groups in a single workout. If properly planned, you can perform several exercises back-to-back with minimal rest between moves, without fully exhausting a particular muscle or group of muscles.  

    There are a total of four circuits in this workout, two of which focus on unilateral movements to challenge your core/balance and provide an extra level of fatigue to muscles recruited in the preceding circuit. Circuit #3 is comprised predominantly of combination exercises, forcing you to rely on similar muscle groups to complete two moves in one. The exercises included in this workout are straightforward; however, the sequencing and formatting of said exercises is what increases the difficulty level of the routine (as well as your weight selections).  

    A few tips to prepare you for this workout: 

    • Overhead presses: be mindful that we are starting with Arnold Presses, a movement that requires full shoulder muscle recruitment. In the circuit that follows, you will complete single-arm Overhead Presses. Don’t be afraid to go with a lighter-than-usual load or adjust your weight choices throughout each circuit for these overhead movement patterns. We are fatiguing the shoulder muscles early in the workout as it pertains to overhead exercises to ensure proper form and minimize exhaustion from other exercises. If your shoulders require extra warming up or light intensity movements prior to lifting, please extend the warm-up with movements that are appropriate for your current training goals and needs.
    • Push-ups: there are two push-ups variations in this workout, one in Circuit #1 and the other in Circuit #3. You can use a stable, inclined surface to alleviate some of the pressure on your shoulders, chest, and triceps, but if you choose to do so, alter the Sphinx Press-Ups to Up-Downs for a comparable experience. 
    • Tempo: maintain an even tempo throughout each lift except for the Bottom Pause Push-Ups. 
    • Weight selections: I recommend using your medium weight selection for Circuit #1 and #2 and your light weights for Circuit #3 and #4. These recommendations are based on what weight selections should ensure a challenging but doable experience with proper, safe form; however, you should ultimately determine what works best for you. Always remember that the differential between my weight selections is more important than the actual weight itself when guiding you in your own choices. 
    • Take breaks: reset your posture and relieve grip tension as needed! If you are having difficulty making it through at least four reps without a break, decrease your weights, get rid of your weights, or pause the video for an extended break. 

    Challenge yourself, but have fun with this workout! This is a great workout for days when you want to tune in your focus to technique and upper body strength. And yes, I dislike the Sphinx Press-Ups just as much as you do, but they were already written on the filming whiteboards so there was no going back to change them.  


    Warm-Up: 30 sec per exercise, no rest between exercises (7:00) 
    - Jump Rope
    - Arm Circles – Forwards (both arms at once) 
    - Squat + Torso Rotations (in squat position) 
    - Jumping Jacks 
    - Inchworm + Reverse Fly 
    - Down-Dog + Shoulder Taps (alternating taps)
    - Double Pulse Running Man


    - Lateral Taps + Crossbody Reaches 
    - Arm Circles – Backwards (both arms at once) 
    - Squat + Pull-Down 
    - Jumping Jacks + OH Swing 
    - Inchworm + Push-Up 
    - Down-Dog + Lateral Raise (alternating raises)
    - Running Man

    Circuit Format: 45 sec on / 15 sec off / 2 rounds (no extra rest between rounds) 

    - My weight selections: medium – 15 lbs. (6.8 kg) / light - 10 lbs. (4.5 kg) OR 8 lbs. (3.6 kg) 

    Circuit #1: One Exercise (medium weights) 
    - Arnold Presses
    - High Wide Row 
    - Bottom Pause Push-Ups 

    Circuit #2: Single-Arm (medium weights) 
    - Single-Arm Overhead Press – R 
    - Single-Arm Low Row – R 
    - Single-Arm Overhead Press – L 
    - Single-Arm Low Row – L

    ***Water Break***

    Circuit #3: Combination Exercises (light weights) 
    - Hammer Curl + Reverse Fly
    - Forward Raise + Lateral Raise 
    - Sphinx Press-Ups 

    Circuit #4: Single-Arm (light weights) 
    - Single-Arm Biceps Curl – R 
    - Single-Arm Scaption – R 
    - Single-Arm Biceps Curl – L
    - Single-Arm Scaption – L

    Cool-Down: approx. 30 sec per stretch (approx. 5:30) 
    - Shoulder Rolls (forwards and back) 
    - Neck/Traps Stretch – R 
    - Neck/Traps Stretch – L 
    - Alternating Cross-Body Hugs 
    - Chest Opener Stretch
    - Hug the Tree (rounded spine) 
    - Overhead Triceps Extension Stretch – R 
    - Overhead Triceps Extension Stretch – L 
    - Arms OH – Lats Stretch – R 
    - Arms OH – Lats Stretch – L 
    - Gentle Spinal Twists