WSBB Blog: Westside Warmups - Upper Body

WSBB Blog: Westside Warmups - Upper Body

When it comes to upper body training days, your success will be dictated by your ability to warm up before your first exercise of the day. The Conjugate Method features two upper body training days per week, ME and DE upper, both calling for a bench or overhead press variation. Each of these training days is important in its own right, and you must have as many quality upper body training sessions as you can to ensure that your bench and overhead press continue to improve.

The key to having quality upper body training sessions is putting in the work before training. This means a warmup routine that targets the upper back, posterior and anterior shoulders, pecs, biceps, and triceps using easy to execute warmup exercises to set yourself up for success. Targeting these muscle groups will help stimulate the muscle groups responsible for supporting the joints of the shoulder and spine, helping to reduce the risk of injury.

Severe training calls for proper preparation, using simple yet effective exercises to target specific muscle groups to activate them, ensuring that the lifter can develop maximal strength and power without inhibition. At Westside, we have long understood the importance of a quality warmup routine and its effects on the quality of training sessions and injury reduction.

Below, we will go over a few exercises we use to prepare ourselves for both Max Effort and Dynamic Effort upper body training days.

Chest Supported Rear Delt Flys / Front Raises

A staple Westside Barbell upper back and shoulder exercise used for years to warmup on upper body training days, chest supported rear delt flys, and front raises work to prepare and mobilize the shoulder girdle and rotator cuffs for pressing.

The workout is simple to set up and execute. First, you will need an adjustable incline bench. Next, you will set the bench to an appropriate incline to allow yourself to lay your chest down on the bench and grab dumbbells to perform the exercise.

Using dumbbells that are heavy enough to activate the targeted muscle groups without overly fatiguing them, athletes will perform a rear delt fly, followed by a front raise. This complete movement is considered one rep. We recommend performing these for 15-20 reps, using as many sets as needed to feel ready to press.

Kettlebell Pullovers

If you want to press heavy weight, you have to be able to use your torso and lats. One of the best ways to open up the lats and thoracic muscles for pressing is by performing kettlebell pullovers before your main exercise. The execution is exactly similar to lying pullovers using a barbell or dumbbell, except you will use a kettlebell by cradling the kettlebell between your hands.

We prefer the kettlebell to a barbell or dumbbell because the kettlebell is compact, allowing for a greater range of motion without having to worry about plates or the end of a dumbbell hitting the ground. This will enable athletes to get a great torso/lat stretch while preparing the torso for heavy pressing.


The oldest upper body pressing exercise in the book, never underestimate the effectiveness of push-ups when planning your upper body warmup routine. Push-ups are a great bodyweight exercise that athletes can do in various ways to specifically target different parts of the arms, shoulders, and pecs, depending on the placement of the hands.

Additionally, the angle of the push-up can be changed by either using a barbell at the bottom of the rack to raise the torso or placing the feet onto a bench to elevate the legs. By changing hand position, torso position, or leg position, an athlete can use push-ups to prepare the most important muscle groups for a heavy day of barbell pressing.

Works Sourced:

Supertraining; by Dr. Mel Siff

Science and Practice of Strength Training; by Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorsky and Dr. William Kraemer

Westside Barbell Book of Methods; by Louie Simmons

Special Strengths Development for All Sports; by Louie Simmons

Fact and Fallacies of Fitness; by Dr. Mel Siff

Tags: Bench, Injury Prevention, Triceps

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