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5 Exercises Designed For Upper Body Training

5 Exercises Designed For Upper Body Training

Most Tough Mudder obstacles you’ll encounter will demand a truckload of upper body movement. Before you sign up for a Tough Mudder event, make sure you’re physically prepared for it. The right training program will incorporate specific exercises that mimic the repetition and movement needed for optimum performance on the course. 

If you want to avoid the painful experience of pulling a muscle in the middle of the event, then you should embed these exercises into your training routine:


Banded Lat Stretch

The range of motion in your shoulders is connected to your upper back muscles. This stretch can loosen your back muscles and further improve your shoulder mobility. This is a great warm up exercise for pull ups and overhead pressing because the resistance band stretches your muscles passively.

  1. Place the resistance band above your head.
  2. Loop the resistance band around your wrist and stretch it  out in your palm.
  3. Step back to generate resistance tension, relaxing your arms as well as your back.
  4. To increase resistance, walk backward and let your arm be pulled by the band.


Banded Pull Aparts

The Banded Pull Apart is a great activation exercise, it’s also a type of workout that can be done everyday before full on training. Athletes should opt to do this exercise with their back against a wall because it can help lock the shoulder and lower back in a neutral position. You can use the wall as a checkpoint when you pull the band outwards.

  1. Grip the resistance band on both ends, you can use two strands or just one, depending on your ability to stretch it.
  2. Raise your arms forward to align with your shoulders, both in height and width.
  3. Begin with your palms down and stretch the band outward until your arms are open sideways.
  4. Bring the band back slowly, this gradual movement will give tension to your upper back.
  5. Do 10 reps with your palms down and 10 more with your palm up.


Banded Pass Through

If you’re looking for an exercise that does range-of-motion stretching and upper body activation, this is it. It’s good for waking up your upper body in the morning and for spotting areas in your shoulders that lack mobility.

  1. Grip the ends of a light resistance band, your hand position should be wider than the width of your shoulders. 
  2. Lock your elbows to prevent it from bending. This ensures that your shoulder takes in all the motion and is not assisted by your elbows.
  3. Swing the band all the way over your head, with the end of it touching your lower back.
  4. Keep the outward tension and do 2 sets of 10 reps.


Pull Ups

Been trying to get better at pull ups? The secret to mastering this exercise is simply by doing it MORE. There are a variety of pull ups that cater to specific muscles groups. A pull up is one of the best exercises to develop a strong and toned upper body. Here’s three different ways you can do a pull up:

  1. The banded pull up – This is a good exercise if you’ve only recently started doing pull ups. Tie your resistance band to the bar and make a loop to insert your foot in. Use the band to add a bounce to your pull ups, finish each rep with your chin above the bar.


  2. The Australian pull up – You can use gymnastic rings, TRX straps or a barbell rested on a squat rack for this pull up. Begin in a seated position on the floor with your feet crossed. When you reach for the bar, rings, or strap, make sure it’s within arms length and isn’t too far for you to grab. You can use the sides of your feet to pull yourself up or you can let your upper body do all the work. Do sets of 12-15 reps.


  3. Banded pull down – Loop your resistance bands around a pull up bar, shoulder width apart. Sit on the floor cross legged and use both hands to pull down on the bands. Engage your upper back as if you’re doing a pull up, you can use light resistance bands and build up the band weight as you go.


Push Ups

A push up is a popular exercise because it has the ability to train both your upper body and your core, if executed properly. A good technique to maximise the benefits of this exercise is to lower the chest and thighs slowly. This intensifies the burn in your arms and back, making the most out of the exercise. Aim to do sets of 15 reps.

  1. Get down on all fours and position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  2. Lower your body to the floor, bending your elbows outward.
  3. Drop your chest in front of the fingertips and press back up without arching your back. Keep your midline straight the entire time.


Tapping out isn’t an option. Don’t downplay the amount of upper body movement you’ll be doing in a Tough Mudder event. Aside from the obvious benefit of having your muscles trained for action, these exercises also help prevent injuries. Sudden physical exertion can take a toll on your body. Start building up your strength now to make sure you have plenty of energy to lift your beer at the Mudder after party.