Mix it up with this High Rep Upper-body Workout!

Upperbody workout routine

Those who have been following kinobody for a long time know that I am a strong proponent of low rep strength training. Heavy weights and low reps build hard, dense muscle without excessive size. In addition the strength gains from heavy, low rep training are huge. By training with low reps you can build incredible relative strength which is one of the key components to the Kinobody physique.

My low rep strength training strategy is outlined here -> Workout Routine for Strength and Density

With that being said I do like to incorporate higher rep training into my routine every few months. You see lifting near maximal loads overtime can cause joint aggravation, plateau’s and even boredom. It is at this point that you need to mix it up with some high rep, pump workouts. Once you make the shift to higher rep training you will notice your muscles look fuller and more vascular. As well the quick increase in muscle size from high rep training will cause the shrink wrap effect where your skin gets super tight around your muscles.

shrink wrap effect

Advantages of High Rep Training 

Quick Increases in Muscle Size:

When you initially train with a high rep / high volume routine you will experience rapid muscle growth. This is the result of increased glycogen storage capacity in your muscles as well as an increase of fluid in your muscles via sarcoplasmic growth. Unfortunately there is an upper limit to how much muscle you can gain from this type of training based on your current level of strength. The stronger you are the more potential growth you can experience from this pump training. By alternating periods of strength training and pump training you can keep muscle gains humming along.

Easier on Your Joints 

Lifting weights close to your 1RM can be stressful on your joints overtime. Switching to lighter loads for a few weeks can let those joints heal.

Gives Your CNS a Break 

Heavy weights really stress and sap your nervous system. You see your nervous system is what allows you to contract and utilize a high threshold of muscle fibers. With lighter loads there is much less neural demand. Repeated drain on your nervous system will lead to low energy and plateau’s. Switching to higher reps can act as a back off week without having to stay out of the gym. When you go back to the heavy strength training you may even notice you feel refreshed with a new vigor allowing you to quickly surpass your previous personal records.

The Upper-body Workout – Perform 2x per week 

1. Incline Barbell Bench Press: 4 x 8-12 reps (2 mins rest)

2. a) Pull ups: 4 x 8-12 reps (straight to lateral raises)

b) Lateral Raises: 4 x 8-12 reps (2 mins rest and then back to pull ups)

3. a) Close Grip Bench Press: 3 x 8-12 reps (straight to curls or rows)

b) Barbell Curls or Cable Rows: 3 x 8-12 reps (2 mins rest)

4. a) Triceps Rope Extensions: 3 x 8-12 reps (straight to curls)

b) Incline Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8-12 reps ( 1 minute rest)

5. Swinging Side to Side Bent Knee Ups: 100 reps per side (as many sets as it takes)

Workout Notes:

Perform this workout 2 times per week with at-least 2 days of rest in between. For exercise pairs you will alternate between exercise A and exercise B. For every exercise I recommend stopping 1-2 reps shy of failure. This will allow you to avoid burnout and maintain higher performance throughout the whole workout. Since you will be depleting a fair amount of muscle glycogen it is advisable to eat plenty of carbs post workout. This will allow you to maximize muscle growth. This is not a workout to perform when you are dieting and eating low calories.

Minimal Effective Dose:

Most people that follow workout programs do way too much volume. Beginners desperate to add muscle are the most guilty of this taking on advanced bodybuilding routines.  These beginners don’t realize that it takes very little volume for them to trigger muscle growth. By far exceeding the minimal effective does to build muscle you are not going to see better muscle gains. In fact all you are doing is making your muscles more resilient to muscle growth. Therefore I recommend sticking to the workout above without trying to add more sets or exercises. Doing more will only hurt you in the long run.


click me
  • Onur

    Hey greg, nice workout!

    i just had a question about interminent fasting, you eat your big meal around 9pm and fast to other day till like 1-2pm

    I eat my biggest meal around 6,30pm,
    So my fastings are 6,30pm till 12 o’clock noon is this ok?

    • Greg


      Yes that is perfectly fine! I have been experimenting with longer fasts and only 2 meals. So now I will have my first meal around 4-6pm and my last meal around 9-10pm. I find this extremely effective for fat loss and amazingly easy.

  • James

    I’ve been feeling a little drained, so this may be exactly what I need! How long do you recommend doing this workout before going back to low-rep training. You mentioned it could be used as a semi-deload week, should it only be a week and then back to heavy work?

    • Greg


      Try this routine for 3-4 weeks and then go back to heavy lifting!

  • http://www.looklikeanathlete.com Sam- Look Like An Athlete

    It’s a solid workout. Plus it definitely helps to switch up the rep scheme as it will shock the body and avoid a plateau effect.

    Sam- Look Like An Athlete recently posted..Muscle Building Superfoods (Guest Post)

  • Cedric Margo

    Greg! good news man! there’s 27 days left of this month and i am very close already to getting to a pretty good fat level. Without the rocky 3 diet lmao. Thing is, is that i am trying to add as much size as possible with these 27 days left. If i were to do the 8-12 rep thing for the next 27 days will my muscles look puffy weak and soft? My muscles are pretty darn angular from low rep only exercising and i wouldn’t want to lose that by time i need to take my picture.

    Oh yeah and also with the fat thing. what’s better? losing the rest of it by next week? (i can handle extreme calorie restricting even with weightlifting and hiit) or tapering it off gradually? you’re always talking about the shrink-wrap effect. so right now, since the last 27 days are coming up. that’s been on my mind constantly. Getting a great definition. and wanting to know the wittiest way to look a little too good to be true for photoshoot day. I’ve never had a six pack (until right now ;) ) or low body fat ever; And over the past month i’ve been losing fat at rediculous rate. This will give you an idea on the elasticity of my skin right now… (Last month i was 172-175 and as of today i am 165-168. maintaining and even gaining strength in some lifts.)

    I have been taking pictures of myself shirtless every 60 days (started dec.1st) and this next photo will be the last. and i’ve been doing the kinobody way for 35 days now (next photo will be taken first of june). I literally want to shock people including myself to the point where it’s just stupid! haaha. To the point where people think i used drugs, fatburners, creatine, hired a personal trainer etc. in the past 60 days.

    • Greg


      Awesome man! Would love to see your results. Could you send me your old and new pics to my email – gregoryogallagher@gmail.com

      Don’t worry your muscles won’t look soft or puffy from the higher reps. As long as you stay lean they will look great! Fuller. I would recommend keeping the diet more moderate now. 1-1.5 lbs per week maximum! This will make everything smoother especially when you transition to maintenance.

  • http://smilepua.com Paul

    I definitely agree with the stress a workout can put on your CNS. I recently wrapped up a 6 month program and when I switched I could just feel the difference. Another great post, I feel like a book might be in the works!
    Paul recently posted..My Ideal Woman Part 3 – Are You Her Ideal Man

  • Onur

    @ Greg

    thanks for the info, il try that out aswell,

    Wich one of the 2 is your biggest meal? and could you give an example on what your 2 meals look like?

    And do you also eat 2 meals on workout days or do you fill some carbs in?


    • Greg


      I keep both meals around the same size. Usually my meals consist of lean protein, veggies and potatoes/yams. On my rest/cardio days I keep carbs lower so I limit the potatoes and instead include more fruit which is less calorically dense.

  • Cedric Margo

    @ Yah. Definately! i wanted to do that even if i didn’t tell you about it it’d be cool you know. Like four months of me doing it on my own and then the last 2 months doing it the kinobody way. I think there will be a vast improvement in the last 2 months then any of the other phases. Which would be insane right? usually people plateau on results in the last two months. I thought you’d enjoy the results.

    I’m very very close to a very very low weight i can build off of for that skin shrinkage effect. I can see my serratus and abs even on a empty stomach bad lighting condition. I’m gonna start the sarcoplasm training in a couple of days. I still want to lose as much as possible in the next 2 days. Hopefully i’ll gain a lot since i haven’t done any pump work in half a year.

    Do you mean 1-1.5 pounds off a week or gain 1-1.5 pounds a week? i was gonna ask around how many calories should i shoot for when i start training? i’m going to weigh around 164-165 in the next 2 days. im 6’2 18 years old just to give you an idea of how small that is for my frame.

    • Greg


      Nice dude! I’m referring to fat loss.

  • http://aesthetic8packabsworkout.blogspot.com Eugene

    Hey Greg, welcome back bro, I was looking forward to this post, you have not posted here for a while. I like your take on workouts bro. I was doing compound exercises for the past month or so but I’m thinking of switching to only doing bodyweight exercises to prove their effectiveness, maybe after this next month I will go back to a high rep workout which gave me good results last year.
    Eugene recently posted..Avoid these foods and do bodyweight exercises

  • cedric margo

    Yeah I can tell you are going to be definately right with the muscles looking bettersand fuller. I finally didmy first real refeed after that full month calories restriction three days ago. My muscle grew intensely I couldn’t believe it. I’m going to do my 2nd high Rep workout tommorow. I need more size in my upper chest and bigger shoulders I’m going to try something new. Anterior deltiod raises with a cable. near thetop I’m going to bring my arm in front of the midline of my chest to engage the upper chest a bit more. Thanks again for all the help Greg! Ive got a phenominal mid section excersise you’re gonna love. Ill send you a video on you’re kinobody page when I am not busy. So be sure to check you’re messages in a couple of days.

  • Marcus

    Hey Greg. Still lovin’ the site but quick question, do you have an equation of some sort to find the weight neccessary to have 10% Bodyfat? Kinda like the one you had for finding 7% body fat. Thanks alot

  • Greg


    I used to lift 4-5 days per week. Now I only do it 3x per week and find this more effective for building strength and long term muscle growth. As well 3x is better for maintaining muscle while dieting.

    My recommendation is to lift heavy and hard 3x per week. 2-10 reps per set. (I like to go really low reps on weighted chins, barbell curls and bench press and higher reps with assistance movements like lateral raises, rear delts and rope extensions.

  • Greg


    One time per week should be sufficient. If you have a lagging muscle group then you can train it 2x per week to speed up growth. However trying to train ever muscle group 2x per week can be quite challenging in terms of full recovery.

  • Dustan

    Would u recommend this workout or this workout (http://www.kinobody.com/1477/my-current-workout-routine-for-incredible-strength-muscle-density/) for a skinny 15 year old. 6’2 163 pounds. If both,which one first?

    • Greg

      I would follow the workout you linked to. Follow it for 2-3 months and then you can throw in two weeks of high rep training, alternating bad and forth.

  • Sean

    Hey greg would you recommend doing this routine after the 3 strength workouts have been completed on the days before? I understand you need days of rest but what if i feel like going to the gym on a supposed to be off day..will a routine like this help me in any way

    • Greg

      Test it for yourself. WIth that said there is really no benefit training beyond 3-4 days per week.

  • Mike

    Cool post. Is this the elusive preparing for a photo shoot post, j/k.

    I’ve been cutting and doing heavy lifting for about 8 weeks so I am ready for a change. Cant wait to up my calories too! Do you recommend doing this over your Mega workouts in the Greek God Program or are they both equally effective? I imagine you get more bang for your buck with the Mega since its a combo of heavy lifting and high rep training. Thoughts?

    • Greg

      Yeah this workout is fine to do for a few weeks to mix it up but you’ll get better results with the MEGA routine.

  • Dominique

    Assuring rest and strength progress is not impaired, would it be beneficial to add in one extra day a week of MEGA-workout together with 3 days a week of Strength and Density?

    • Greg

      Nope that won’t work with the split, you won’t have proper muscular recovery for the next session.

  • John

    Greg, what about doing this whilst I’m on a cut, I’m desperate to maintain muscle and strength so can this work?

    • Greg

      Yes this can work to maintain muscle. I wouldn’t do it for more than 2-3 weeks though.

  • mike

    Hey Greg!

    Just a few questions:

    1. Do you still use a similar routine when you want to give yourself a break from heavy lifting or is there another you prefer?

    2. How would you tweek the routine if we can’t do supersets?

    3. How would you incorporate leg training into it?


    • Greg

      1. Yeah I do something similar to this. But often I just do 2 sets per movement of higher reps. Usually 6-8 reps on my first set and 8-10 reps on my second set.
      2. You don’t have to do super sets. Just go through one at a time.
      3. I’d do pistol squats, leg extensions and single leg romanian deadlifts and calf raises.

  • Elie

    I am currently doing visual impact phase 3 to reach sub 10% bodyfat then plan on doing some high reps for a shrinkwrap. I plan to redoing phase 1 wich has by far way more volume than this workout. Wich do you recommend? Also wich is more affective?