We all have different motivational reasons for exercising. We all have slightly different goals that we are aim for when it comes to numbers, events, contests and general self-worth.

Whatever we are looking towards, there is one aspect of enabling our full potential as humans that is universally applicable and important, and that is to be fit for life.

This means growing up to be able to play with your grandchildren, to be fit enough to do everything you want and go everywhere you would love to go. It is about being able to carry your baby around for hours, lift yourself out of the pool, pull yourself up in case you fall.

It means you can hike, swim, run, cycle, and play football, maintain good posture, be proud of yourself and enable your full potential. It extends to walking tall, your body turning into a reflection of your lifestyle and life decisions.

These nine key exercises will improve your upper body power and ultimately help you carry yourself daily life. They are exercises that will also improve tendon power and solidify decent movement patterns when performed correctly. Strengthening your body and movement is a good step towards avoiding injury in the future.

It cannot be overstated how important correct form and using the appropriate gear is when it comes to upper body exercises.

Elbow sleeves, wrist protection and compression arm sleeves are all highly effective items to help you be the best athlete you can be, strengthen movement patterns and encourage the natural movements of your body.

OVERHEAD PRESS (DUMBBELL PRESS)

The Overhead Press (also known as the Strict Press or Shoulder Press) is a compound exercise that involves lifting a weighted barbell overhead into a fully locked out position with the rigorous use of the shoulders and arms.

BENEFITS OF THE OVERHEAD PRESS

Pressing the bar overhead is one of the very useful upper body exercises you can do. This highly effective exercise involves the whole body. Your feet, legs, glutes, center, abs, hips, ankles and wrists aid stabilise the entire body whilst your shoulders, upper chest, back and arms press the bar overhead.

The Overhead Press gives great strength in your heart and back as well as shoulder and arms. It trains the whole body to balance while standing and pressing the weight overhead.

It taxes your full body and CNS (central nervous system) as well as increasing your ability to control and stabilise heavy weights above your head. This is incredibly useful for improving your:

  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk / Split Jerk
  • Thrusters
  • Pull Ups
  • Muscle Ups

Rehband elbow sleeves are a highly useful accessory here to help you perfect the bar path when you are first learning the exercise. They will give you additional support and confidence, and for advanced lifters, are great for when you are working with testing max lifts or higher quantity barbell biking in WODs.

STRICT PULL UP

If it comes to body power, the humble pull up is a tried and tested bodyweight exercise that can significantly allow you to enhance your abilities.

You can play around with the different variations in order to challenge your body in new ways. Broad grip (pronated) will especially target your upper back, whilst chin ups with a closer grip (supinated) are a great way to develop your biceps.

TECHNIQUE TIPS

  • Maintain your core tight
  • Squeeze your glutes
  • Grip as hard as you can on the bar

Try gripping a mild plate (small 1.25kg) between your feet if you are finding it difficult to engage your core, as this can help to force you to activate this part of your body throughout the movement.

If you are still fighting with pull ups, then try out this 3-day a week program to improve the exercise.

BENCH PRESS

The bench press is not a common exercise in Functional Training, yet it can be a great way to build power and improve lockout strength and overhead media movements for other lifts.