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This Upper Body Strength Workout Builds Hulk-like Power

A guy completing an upper body strength workout.

This upper body strength workout does more than develop hulk-like strength in the muscles of the back, chest, shoulders, and arms. It explodes muscles endurance while also providing a tough training challenge to sink your teeth into.

In addition to building strength and enhancing muscle endurance, this upper body strength workout will also increase size in the latissimus dorsi, pectorals, deltoids, and biceps. Furthermore, because this is a high training volume workout, you’ll likely enjoy improved muscle definition as well.

upper body strength workout benefits

As the name implies, this workout has been designed to develop strength in the upper body. And, if you can make room for it in your training routine, you should notice strength gains in those muscles listed above.

However, because this workout incorporates both strength and muscle endurance training elements, you’ll soon notice an improvement in physical performance.

For example, an increase in muscle endurance will enable you to eek more reps out of each set with the same weight. Also, in addition to sculpting noticeably sharper muscles, the strength gains you experience from this workout will help you improve on your one-rep max personal bests.

Improved fitness and muscle definition

If you decide to undertake the challenge, which is explained below, this workout forges superior fitness. Additionally, the high-intensity work rate that you’ll have to sustain throughout the challenge will get your heart rate up. Combined, these fitness benefits make this upper body strength workout near enough a complete training session.

How to approach this upper body strength workout

There are two ways that you can tackle this workout. The first is to approach it as you would a typical training session. Split the workload over a series of sets and implement a rep range suitable for your current level of fitness.

We’ll call that option one. Below, accompanying the exercise explanations, suggested sets, and rep ranges have been provided.

The second way to approach this workout, which we’ll call option two, is to pit yourself against the challenge of lifting 10-ton of weight in the shortest time possible. Option two is in many respects similar to the AMRAP (as many repetitions as possible) training method.

However, the difference here is that your objective is to lift 10-ton as quickly as possible. If you’re unfamiliar with this method of training, the process is explained below.

10-ton challenge explained

The way to calculate your accumulated weight is very simple. All you’re doing is multiplying the weight by the number of repetitions performed. So, to shift 10-ton with, say, a 50kg Olympic barbell, you will have to perform 200 repetitions. (Example: 1 rep x 50kg = 50kg lifted. 10 reps x 50kg = 500kg lifted. 200 reps x 50kg = 10,000kg (10-ton) lifted.)

Of course, you don’t have to complete all the reps in one sitting. You can break them up in any way you want. The rules of the challenge are that you lift 10-ton ensuring to divide the load equally across each of the four exercises.

Make this upper body strength workout a circuit

One of the most effective ways to approach this challenge is by organising the exercise into a circuit. Here’s how you could do this.

  • Use a single Olympic barbell for the compound exercises

  • Select a weight that you can comfortably lift for 10 reps

  • Calculate the number of reps needed to achieve 10-ton on each exercise

  • Stick to 10 reps as it makes calculating the weight easier

  • Create a tally sheet (or use the examples below) to keep track of your progress

  • After a good warm-up, set a timer and start lifting!

1) Bento over row

Option 1 strength: 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps

Option 2 10-ton challenge (50kg barbell)

A grid showing the rep range for this upper body strength workout.

bent over row key teaching points

  • Hold a barbell at your front; the bar is resting against your quads; palms are facing back.

  • Adopt a neutral stance: feet shoulder-width.

  • Hinge at the hips until the bar is level with the upper knee.

  • Eyes fixed forward, back straight.

  • Smoothly row the bar until it touches your abdomen.

  • Under control return it to the start position and repeat.

Related: Check out the Best Olympic Barbell for the home gym

2) Bench press

Option 1 strength: 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps

Option 2 10-ton challenge (50kg barbell)

A grid showing the rep range for this upper body strength workout.

Bench press key teaching points

  • Set the barbell at an appropriate height on a rack.

  • Manoeuvre a bench under the bar ensuring that it is exactly central.

  • Lie on the bench taking a wide hand grip on the bar.

  • Prior to lifting, plant your feet firmly so that your form a stable position to lift from.

  • Remove the bar from the rack and lower until it touches the chest.

  • Smoothly press the bar to the start position: do not lock out at the elbow.

3) Hang clean

Option 1 strength: 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps

Option 2 10-ton challenge (50kg barbell)

A grid showing the rep range for this upper body strength workout.

Hang clean key teaching points

  • Adopt the same start position as outlined for the bent-over row.

  • To initiate the hang clean, hinge forward slightly at the hips.

  • Using lower back, lat, trapezius, and arm strength heave the bar up to the shoulders. This should be executed in one smooth movement. The bar should be momentarily supported in the front rack position before returning to the start.

  • To return the bar to the start position allow gravity to do the work while you guide and control the bar’s descent.

  • Of course, a multifaceted movement such as the hang clean is impossible to capture in a written description. But if you observe correct lifting principles, and you’re using a light bar, you should be safe.

4) Standing shoulder press

Option 1 strength: 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps

Option 2 10-ton challenge (50kg barbell)

A grid showing the rep range for this upper body strength workout.

Shoulder press key teaching points

  • Stand with a bar supported under your chin, hands spaced a little over shoulder-width.

  • Your knees are slightly bent, and you can engage the quads for lift assist if you so wish (this is called a push press).

  • To initiate the exercise, press the bar above your head stopping short of lockout.

  • Lower under control to the start position in preparedness for the next rep.

Make this upper body strength workout a supper challenge!


Open the attachment below and find out.

10-Ton Upper Body Strength Challenge
Download PDF • 438KB

When you’ve finished here, try the Ultimate Lower body Strength Workout


Enjoyed this workout?

Get your hands on 50 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Vol. 1.

Circuit training is one of the best forms of physical exercise for maintaining and increasing overall-fitness. A well designed circuit will provide a great cardiovascular workout, strengthening the heart and lungs in the process, whilst also improving muscle endurance and developing functional strength. This unique combination, of fat burning and muscle building, which singular exercises, such as running, cycling, swimming or weights cannot give, will help to sculpt a lean defined physique.


In this text box it says: As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance! Blog Author: Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.

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