Four- to six-week dedicated spells will help you stay lean up top, writes Darren Grewcock

Bench Press
The daddy of upper-body exercises, this is a good test of where you’re at, particularly in your chest- and shoulder-strength levels.

  • Remember we want muscle growth, not just out and out strength
  • Therefore, ensure you can perform a nice, full range of movement on every rep, with the bar touching your chest
  • Use a spotter to help you max out on the final reps of every set

Reps and Sets
Reps – eight        Sets – four/five
Rest – 90 seconds    Tempo – slow, controlled

Wide Cable Row
This can be difficult to keep a strict, upright position with, but it’s a great exercise for your back and core when holding yourself in place.

  • Keep knees slightly flexed, arms at full extension and back flat
  • When you pull the bar in towards your chest, push your chest up and forwards, and keep your chin up too
  • Bring hands in to the line of your chest, and lower slowly back to start

Reps and Sets
Reps – eight        Sets – four/five
Rest – 60 to 90 seconds    Tempo – slow, controlled

Seated Shoulder Press
A great exercise for your deltoids and trapezius, use a machine (above) or dumb-bells, which is a bit harder as you have to maintain stability.

  • Push lower back right back against the seat. Don’t arch your back
  • As you push up, keep your chin up and off your chest
  • Lower the weight until your elbow is at approximately 90°, and make sure you don’t let the weight drop fully in between reps

Reps and Sets
Reps – six to eight        Sets – four
Rest – 90 seconds        Tempo – controlled

Chins and Dips
These can be done with weights attached, but as your final exercise your body weight alone should be sufficient if your technique stays strict.

  • Start chin-ups from a fully extended, straight-arms hanging position
  • Lift until chin is in line with hands. Push chest and hips up high (left)
  • When you dip, ensure you reach a full 90° at the elbows before pushing up to a fully straight arm again (right)

Reps and Sets
Reps – maximal            Sets – three
Rest – 90 seconds        Tempo – controlled

This article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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