3 Upper Body Exercises for the Chest and Shoulders

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If I were to go around to most gyms in the country I am sure that there would be two major types of training going on: Upper body work and cardio.

It might not be my preferred way to train or to have people train but it is the reality.

Mondays are for benching, Wednesday is arms, and Thursday is shoulders. Legs maybe get thrown in on a Tuesday or Friday unless there is something good on
TV or you stay in bed.


You can go into the gym and see the same people doing the same things for years on end.

I remember some people being so routine in the commercial gym that I went to that I could program around what equipment these people would be using when I was there.

I even believe the weights stayed the same on the exercises.
It does not have to be like that though.

Progress is made through adaptation. Adaptation occurs when new demands are made on the body and the subsequent recovery from those demands.

If you are someone that does the same handful of exercises for the different body parts, expanding your exercise library would do a lot to improve your progress.

You cannot make new adaptations if the demands are constantly the same.

The following upper body exercises are not only simple, but they can be done in almost any gym that has cables, bars, and dumbbells.

Landmine Variations

A landmine is a piece of equipment that mounts to the floor and has a slot for a barbell to slide into. It then allows one end of the bar to stay still and the other end moves freely.

I have noticed that for pressing, the bar will stay pinned against a corner or a box as long as the floor is not slick.

You will need to do some trial and error with these at your gym.

Landmine presses are a way to meet in the middle between an overhead (shoulder) press and a chest press.

They are friendly on the shoulder because the joint stays in safer alignment and the shoulder blade is allowed to move freely.

Single Arm Dumbbell Press

Such a simple variation that I never thought of until I was reading Dan John’s book, Intervention. He mentions in the book that one of his arms was in a cast and he performed lots of single arm pressing.

When the cast came off he was as strong, or stronger, than when it went on.

I like the exercise because it forces a lot of stability. You cannot just casually perform these with adequate weight because you will probably fall off of your bench.

You must stabilize your lower body, torso, and shoulder in order to perform the lift. This is perfect for those seeking total body training.

^^rookie move on the vertical video

Cable Presses

Yes, you can use the cable machines for things other than flys.

Cable pressing is a good way to train the chest while protecting the shoulder. The scapulae are allowed to move freely on the rib cage in this exercise and the shoulder stays in decent alignment.

These are also a 2 for 1 exercise because a single arm variation works on your core. The cable is going to want to rotate you so you must activate the core to prevent rotation.

Anti-rotation and upper body strength makes this exercise a fine choice.

Cable presses and landmines can have almost limitless variations too. You can perform them single arm, double arm, kneeling, half kneeling, split squat, staggered stance, even stance, or with a push(landmine only).

It may only seem like 2 exercises but I just gave you 14 choices. They each have unique stability benefits of the lower body or the core while still providing the upper body stimulus as the primary goal.

I have provided you with the tools now start making some new progress in the gym.