T Nation

Female Upper Body Question..


I started exercising (weights, cardio…but INTENSITY…none of that treadmill reading stuff). I’ve made pretty good progress (doing BFL) but, well, that routine bores me senseless now. Doesn’t make the gym trip a REAL trip. I’ve read a lot of the articles here, as well as the advice given to Juanita (which inspired me to post…I wasn’t sure if this was a men’s ONLY place). I belong to a message board full of insane women and it’s not very helpful.

I’ve realized that my legs are developing nicely. I’m getting stronger…but for the last 5 months…I’ve found it next to impossible to get a GOOD UB routine that works for me. Any tips on what I can possibly do to up the intensity on my UB workouts?



Michelle, we need to know (a) what your goals are and (b) what sort of UB workout you’ve been doing thus far. Sets, reps, the whole thing. Also, diet and physique details would help. Then we can give you some concrete advice.

Try reading the FAQ as there are a lot of links to previous articles about upper body workout including a great 12 week program designed by Ian King. There are also links to articles about each upper body part: chest, back, arms, shoulders. Sorry, no quick answer, but the information is here; you’ll just have to go find it.

The best upper body exercise in my opinion is the clean and press - do 4 sets of that with a decent weight and you’ll be completely munted.

Another good idea is super-setting chins with bench press [or something like swiss ball dumbell press] the agonist/ antagonist work [push/pull] is really efficient and also helps development on a neural level too.

Another really good combination is deadlifts super-setted with squats, especially breathing squats.

hope some of these ideas help.

Michelle, Details girl. More information always better than not enough. Give it up diet, current regiment, complaints about said regiment etc.

Thanks for the reply. As for goals I’m at about 22% BF now. I would like to get that down below the 20s. More importantly, my main goal is to increase upper body strength. I’m still trying to finally decide if I want to drop the fat first THEN gain muscle or other way around. My UB workouts now are a day for Back (2 exercises, 3-4 sets), Tris (3 exercises, 3-4 sets), Shoulders (2 exercises 3-4 sets) and another day for Chest (3 exercises, 3-4 sets, Biceps (2 exercises 3-4 sets), and Shoulders (2 exercises 3-4 sets). The days are spaced out so that I have at about 4 days in between the workouts This is a program a friend gave me. I may try the Ian King UBWO because I want to increase my bench to at LEAST 100 (from ~60 now).

As for physique...my lower body is fairly muscular but my upper body is skinny as hell.

As for diet. 5-6 meals a day. I’m not really a calorie counter, but I checked a few days’ breakdown and my ratio is about 40P/40C/20F. For me to figure out how I’m gonna go about my diet…I kinda have to decide whether I’m gonna do muscle first, fat last or vice versa. I’ve heard about zig zagging them…any thoughts on whether I should try this? -


first of all, welcome to the forum. second thanks for changing your ‘handle’ because things were gonna get realy confusing really quickly! (i’m michelle from the ‘gang o’ babes’ column) third - my workout is two sets of 6-10 reps (usually closer to 6) and i have seen some great growth in the past month or so… i’ll share teh entire thing if you’re interested

Thanks for the welcome! Could you share your UB workout??? I’m looking at different ones to try now so that when my month of the current one is over…I can switch to something else. Just an aside question…is it better to lose the last bit of fat first THEN gain lean mass or vice versa???



I would definitely recommend shedding some fat first. When you do so, more of your gains down the road are likely to be lean mass instead of body fat. Rather than get into the details of it, go to the previous issues section and read John Berardi’s Appetite for Construction in Issue #167. He cites a very good study and offers conclusive evidence that it is better to start bulking up when you are at your leanest. Good luck, and welcome to the forum.

i try to concentrate on muscle gains rather than fat loss. more muscle = higher metabolism = more fat loss. admittedly i am very bad about my diet, but by just being a bit more ‘careful’ i have been slowly shrinking. i know if i cleaned up my diet completely the fat would come off much faster, but slow and steady is just fine with me. i’ll get you my workout as soon as i can!

Miss-em, how many reps per set in your workouts? If you’ve been doing a “regular” workout (i.e., 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps, which is what most people would recommend for “girls”), then we’ve probably found the problem with your lack of strength gains: too much volume, not enough intensity. If the reps are lower, you still may have the problem - just from the angle of unusually poor recovery ability. In addition to rep ranges, what are your rest periods between sets, and what sort of tempos are you using? (If you haven’t given much thought to these last two, don’t worry about it, just say so. We won’t bite . . . too hard!) Also, whether you want strength or leanness, I recommend that you try Methoxy. It works well in both areas, and is safe for women.

Hey. The workout that my friend (PT) gave me was based on my 10RM. I usually do 10-12 reps based on the week. When I’m done my WO…I’m hurting…but an hour later it’s like nothing ever happened. Usually rest is about 45-2min depending on what I’m doing. As for tempos…I’ll be honest…never thought about it. But I go at a fairly steady pace. Not speeding through anything and I’m not going to slow. Should I change that up?

I was asking a trainer at my gym about a few Ian King programs that I was looking into and she discouraged me because “why would I want to train like a man?” GRRRRR.

Are you referring to EAS’ methoxy factor? That’s the only company that I can associate with that name.