16 Best Upper Body Circuit Training Workouts

Are you ever struck by the desire to uncover the mysteries of chiseling those exquisitely defined, formidable upper body muscles that capture attention on the shoreline and infuse you with an invincible spirit in your day-to-day existence?   

Well, search no more.  

Delving into the realm of weight-infused circuit training for your upper body is the clandestine elixir to unleash the untapped potential residing in your upper physique.   

Within the following guide, we shall plunge headfirst into the intricate domain of weight-centric circuit training, unveiling the artistry behind curating a workout regimen that will not only leave you embracing your inner superhero but also deliver the sought-after transformations you ardently desire.   

Regardless of whether you’re a newcomer to the realm of physical fitness or an accomplished aficionado of the gymnasium, brace yourself for an odyssey that promises to metamorphose your upper body into a masterpiece, blending both robust might and aesthetic allure.  

The Benefits of Upper Body Circuit Training  

Upper body circuit training with weights isn’t just another trendy workout; it’s a game-changer that can transform your fitness journey in ways you might not have imagined.   

Let’s break it down in real-person terms, backed by research and evidence, so you can see why incorporating this approach into your routine is a brilliant move.  

1. Turbocharges Muscle Growth  

Imagine getting more results in less time.   

That’s the beauty of circuit training.   

Studies, like one published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, have shown that this training style effectively stimulates muscle growth.   

By targeting multiple muscle groups with varied exercises, you’re setting the stage for some serious gains.  

2. Unleashes Your Inner Strength  

Ever struggled to open a stubborn jar or carry heavy grocery bags up a flight of stairs?   

Circuit training enhances overall strength.   

Research in the Journal of Applied Physiology indicates that it’s not just about looking strong; it’s about being strong.   

And that’s something you can carry into everyday life.  

3. Burns Calories Like a Furnace  

Want to incinerate calories even after your workout is done?   

Circuit training creates an “afterburn” effect.   

In a study by the Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that circuit workouts can boost your metabolism for hours post-exercise, helping you shed those extra calories.  

4. Elevates Cardiovascular Endurance  

Running on a treadmill isn’t the only path to a healthier heart.   

Circuit training can elevate your cardiovascular endurance too.   

According to the American Council on Exercise, this form of training keeps your heart rate up, promoting better cardiovascular health.  

5. Keeps It Exciting  

Boredom is the enemy of any fitness routine.   

The variety in circuit training keeps things fresh and exciting.   

Changing exercises and order prevents plateaus, ensuring your workouts remain engaging and effective. 

Circuit Training Basics  

Circuit training, an intricate mosaic of exercises performed in swift succession with minimal intermission, unveils its enigmatic charm. To blueprint your circuit:  

  • Exercise Palette: Embark by selecting 4-5 exercises, each a brushstroke targeting distinct upper body muscle enclaves. Diversity, the keystone of a holistic workout, beckons.  
  • Repetitions and Sets: Engage in the arithmetic of fitness. Opt for a paradigm of 10-15 repetitions per exercise, though customizing to your fitness ascendancy is ordained.  
  • Breath’s Ephemeral Pause: Inhabit the interstice between exercises, your respite, albeit fleeting, a tantalizing 30-60 seconds. Speech may falter, but the rhythm endures.  
  • Circuit Recurrence: The odyssey doesn’t culminate with a single traverse. Persevere through 2-3 revolutions of your circuit, fueling the fervor and ensuring results flow unabated.  

Now, it’s time to translate theory into kinetic poetry. Forge four upper-body circuit choreographies, destined to embolden and elevate your strength and accomplishment.  

Required Equipment  

For your upper body circuit saga, the arsenal must befit the warrior:  

  • Dumbbells: A versatile choice, catering to myriad upper-body symphonies.  
  • Barbells: The artisans of compound movements, venerable for endeavors like bench presses and rows.  
  • Kettlebells: The alchemists of functional training, offering resistance and versatility.  
  • Resistance Bands: Versatile companions, equally suited to homebound odysseys and resistance augmentation.  

Upper Body Circuit Sonata: Chest  

Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 12 lyrical repetitions  

Step 1: Grace the precipice of a flat bench, clutching a dumbbell in each hand. Let the weights linger upon your thighs before reclining, embracing the journey towards your chest’s sanctum.  

Step 2: Elevation ensues; dumbbells cradle your chest’s citadel, palms outstretched, arms unfurling as if composing an anthem.  

Step 3: Inhale, fortify your core, and orchestrate a descent, guiding the dumbbells towards your chest’s epicenter, the 90-degree paragon.  

Step 4: Exhale, a crescendo, as you propel the dumbbells skyward, arms’ full extension sans tyranny of locked elbows.  

Repeat this sonnet for 12 repetitions, intermission brief, before the next two verses.  

Push-Ups: 3 sets of 15 verses  

Step 1: Assume the plank’s poetic posture, hands splayed, a tad beyond shoulder-width, unity from cranium to heel.  

Step 2: A descent, an ode to gravity, elbows genuflecting, as your chest brushes the earthly plane, an act of poetic proximity.  

Step 3: With palmar resoluteness, ascend, a lyrical return to the plank’s embrace. One verse is complete. 

Conclude 15 verses per stanza, unafraid to kneel should the need arise. The crucible, ablaze; the gains, ever so real.  

Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets of 12 verses  

Step 1: Repose on the bench’s canvas, a dumbbell in each hand, arms aloft, the heavens mirroring your chest’s zenith.  

Step 2: Elbows gently flexed, embark upon an arc, wings unfurling, till your chest’s aegis beckons with a stretch.  

Step 3: Exhale, unite the dumbbells, a chest-bound sonnet, a muscular crescendo.  

Perform 12 verses per set, the focus on stretching and embrace, your chest’s opus.  

Chest Dips: 3 sets of 10 poetic refrains  

Step 1: Discover parallel bars or dip’s vestibule, hands clenched, palms entreatingly inward.  

Step 2: Elevate, elbows bend, lean forward, chest’s overture.  

Step 3: A descent, the verses of your arms echoing, till parallel or below, the zenith of artistry.  

Step 4: Resurrection, the ascent, palms’ symphony, the return to origin.  

Complete 10 poetic refrains per stanza, the chest’s lyrical opulence is unveiled.  

Upper Body Circuit Sonata: Back  

Barbell Rows: 3 sets of 10 eloquent repetitions  

Step 1: Feet in reverent width, posture unwavering.  

Step 2: Barbell’s embrace, palms downcast, the grip, a testimony.  

Step 3: Hinge, knees’ gentle flex, a poetic bow, as the barbell journeys to the ribcage’s sotto voce.  

Step 4: Exhale, the barbell’s ascent, the shoulder blades’ entwined soliloquy.  

Step 5: Inhale, the barbell’s descent, a sonnet in reverse.  

Repeat for 3 sets of 10 eloquent repetitions, interlude demure.  

Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 12 eloquent verses  

Step 1: Lat pulldown’s realm, thighs ensconced, secure in the throne.  

Step 2: Arms aloft, palms’ firm grip, a stance heralding.  

Step 3: Chest’s valor, core’s fortitude, the pulldown’s aria, exhalation’s tapestry.  

Step 4: Pause, a zenith, the bar’s caress, the breath’s resurgence.  

Repeat for 3 sets of 12 eloquent verses, movements orchestrated.  

Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 10 lyrical ballads per arm  

Step 1: Dumbbell at rest, a story of the floor’s proximity.  

Step 2: A tableau, one knee, and hand, a dumbbell’s offering.  

Step 3: Elevation, an elegy to the back’s embrace, elbow in harmony.  

Step 4: Squeeze, the apex, the musculature’s ballad.  

Step 5: The descent, a canto in reverse, alternate arms’ duet.  

Repeat for 3 sets of 10 lyrical ballads per arm, a tapestry woven with bilateral grace.  

Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 8 epic verses  

Step 1: The bar’s allure, an overhand grip, palms’ ode to the horizon.  

Step 2: Dangle, the canvas, arms’ full-length canvas.  

Step 3: Engage, the core’s resonance, the pull’s crescendo.  

Step 4: Descent, arms’ eulogy, the bar’s relinquishment.  

Repeat for 3 sets of 8 epic verses, a symphony of strength, a tale of ascent and descent.  

Upper Body Circuit Sonata: Shoulders  

Overhead Barbell Press: 3 sets of 10 eloquent movements  

Step 1: Feet’s resolute stance, barbell’s apex, a dialogue poised.  

Step 2: Palms’ tender clasp, an overture’s inception.  

Step 3: Ascension, the barbell’s elevation, arms’ zenith, the narrative unfolds.  

Step 4: Exhalation, the descent, a barbell’s reverent return.  

Repeat this ballet for 10 eloquent movements, with a brief respite, before the next stanza.  

Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 12 graceful movements  

Step 1: Feet’s elegant cadence, dumbbells’ tender cradle, poised to ascend.  

Step 2: Arms in synchrony, a balletic bend in the elbows.  

Step 3: Elevation, the crescendo, arms’ symphony, parallel to the terrestrial stage.  

Step 4: Descent, the denouement, a return to origin’s embrace.  

Repeat for 12 graceful movements, a brief interlude preceding the next chapter.  

Front Raises: 3 sets of 12 lyrical movements  

Step 1: Feet’s harmonious positioning, dumbbells’ ballet, poised for the prologue.  

Step 2: Elbows’ reverent bend, palms’ orchestration, a choreography awaiting.  

Step 3: Elevation, the symphony, arms’ ascent, a salute to the terrestrial plane.  

Step 4: Descent, the curtain’s fall, a return to repose.  

Complete 12 lyrical movements, a respite to reflect before the next stanza.  

Face Pulls with Resistance Band: 3 sets of 15 evocative movements  

Step 1: Anchor point, a resistance band’s liaison, beckoning.  

Step 2: Facing the abyss, palms’ tender grasp, the band’s tension building.  

Step 3: A step backward, tension’s crescendo, shoulders’ entwined elegy.  

Step 4: A pause, an apex, the band’s gentle release.  

Step 5: A return, resistance’s lament, a bond’s reunion.  

Step 6: Repeat this epic for 15 evocative movements, the upper back’s symphony.  

Upper Body Circuit Sonata: Biceps & Triceps  

Barbell Bicep Curls: 3 Sets of 12 Reps, a lyrical voyage  

Step 1: Posture’s grace, barbell’s embrace, a prelude to the crescendo.  

Step 2: Elbows’ proximity, a declaration of intent, the ascent’s sonnet.  

Step 3: Exhalation, the journey skyward, biceps’ magnum opus, a zenith’s embrace.  

Step 4: Inhalation, a descent’s soliloquy, arms’ full extension, an ode to reprieve.  

Perform this lyrical voyage for 12 repetitions, each a stanza in the tale.  

Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 Sets of 10 Reps, a poetic dance  

Step 1: Dumbbells, akin to partners, an arm’s ballet, a prelude.  

Step 2: Elevation, one arm’s ascent, a solo performance, the bicep’s serenade.  

Step 3: Inhalation, the descent, a pause, the stage awaits the other arm.  

Step 4: Exhalation, a mirrored dance, the bicep’s duet.  

Perform this poetic dance for 10 repetitions on each arm, a symphony of alternation.  

Triceps Dips: 3 Sets of 12 Reps, an eloquent ritual  

Step 1: Parallel bars’ camaraderie, a hand’s overture, a salute to the terrestrial stage.  

Step 2: Palms’ fidelity, a descent’s narrative, triceps’ homage.  

Step 3: Exhalation, the ascent’s crescendo, the apex’s benediction.  

Step 4: Inhalation, a descent’s memoir, the stage’s embrace.  

Perform this eloquent ritual for 12 repetitions, a ceremony of ascent and descent.  

Skull Crushers: 3 Sets of 10 Reps, a controlled verse  

Step 1: Prostrate, the bench’s canvas, a barbell’s embrace, palms’ reverent clasp.  

Step 2: Elbows’ genuflection, a descent’s ballad, triceps’ serenade.  

Step 3: Exhalation, the ascent, the zenith’s crescendo, an anthem of control.  

Step 4: Inhalation, a descent’s soliloquy, a refrain of caution.  

Perform this controlled verse for 10 repetitions, a narrative etched with restraint.  

Tips For Successful Upper Body Training.  

Whether you’re embarking on your first foray into equipment-free circuit training or a seasoned fitness enthusiast seeking to elevate your regimen, these seven guiding principles are your roadmap to triumph:  

  • The Blueprint for Progress: Commence your upper body odyssey with a well-crafted blueprint. Define your objectives, whether it be muscle-sculpting, weight management, or strength augmentation. A thoughtfully structured workout regimen, such as a beginner’s circuit training sans equipment, serves as your guiding star, providing direction and maintaining your trajectory.  
  • The Art of Precision: The cornerstone of prosperous upper body training is impeccable form. Before introducing weights or escalating intensity, it is imperative to master the art of precise execution for each exercise. Correct form not only optimizes outcomes but also serves as an impervious shield against injuries. Contemplate the counsel of a coach or draw inspiration from instructional materials to hone your technique.  
  • Harmony Through Diversity: Imbalance is anathema. The symphony of upper body training should resonate across all key domains—chest, back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. Striking a harmonious balance assures uniform muscle development and mitigates the risk of asymmetry.  
  • The Ascension of Challenge: To witness the cadence of continuous progress, one must orchestrate the crescendo of intensity. Enter the realm of progressive overload. Gradually augment the vigor of your workouts, whether by adding weight, expanding repetitions, or embracing novel exercises. This principle propels your muscles towards growth and adaptation.  
  • The Oasis of Recovery: Within the sanctuary of rest, muscles thrive and regenerate. Thus, do not underestimate the sanctity of recovery. Slumber, a span of 7-9 hours per night, is the cornerstone. Integrated rest days, proper nutritional support, meal prepping and macro-nutrient attention are the accompanying verses in the anthem of rejuvenation.  
  • The Tapestry of Consistency: Consistency is the clandestine ingredient in the recipe for victory. Results are the progeny of time and tenacity. Even when progress appears to languish, remain steadfast in your commitment. Celebrate every stride forward, regardless of its size, to stoke the flames of motivation.  
  • The Alchemy of Variety: The spice of diversity enlivens the journey and challenges the body. Infuse your routine with an array of exercises, equipment, or workout modalities. This prevents monotony and shields against the plateau, propelling you past fitness barricades.  

Bonus Wisdom: The Attitude of Fortitude and Optimism 

Progress unfolds at its cadence, and the expedition of fitness extends far beyond a destination. Cultivate a resilient spirit, commemorate every milestone, and remain impervious to the slings and arrows of setbacks. Consistency and a buoyant mindset shall escort you further than the limits of imagination.  

In Conclusion  

In the realm of fitness, your upper body is the canvas, and your workouts are the brushstrokes that sculpt it.  

By adhering to these guiding principles, you are not merely lifting weights; you are crafting a masterpiece of vigor and self-assuredness.  

Remember, it is not confined to the numbers etched upon the barbell.  

It hinges upon the unwavering commitment that dwells within your heart and the rhythm of your unwavering actions.  

Yours is a journey, and each repetition signifies a step in the right direction.  

Persist with patience, persist with optimism, and continue to push the boundaries of your potential.  

The results shall unfurl, and when they do, you shall stand in awe of the grandeur you have fashioned.  


1. How often should I do upper body circuit training?  

It’s recommended to do upper body circuit training 2-3 times a week with rest days in between to allow for muscle recovery.  

2. Can beginners try upper body circuit training?  

Yes, beginners can start with lighter weights and fewer sets, gradually increasing intensity as they progress.  

3. Should I consult a fitness trainer before starting?  

It’s advisable to consult a fitness trainer or healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are new to weight training.  

4. Can I combine upper body circuit training with cardio?  

Absolutely. Combining circuit training with cardio exercises like jogging or cycling can further enhance your fitness results.  

5. How long does it take to see results from upper body circuit training?  

Results vary from person to person, but with consistency and a well-balanced diet, you can expect to see noticeable changes in 4-8 weeks.  

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