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

Upperbody workout routineThose 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.

shrink wrap effectYou see, lifting near maximal loads over time can cause joint aggravation, plateaus and even boredom. It’s 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.

Advantages of High Rep Training

1.) 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.

2.) 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.

3.) 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)

a.) Incline Barbell Bench Press:
4 x 8-12 reps (2 mins rest)
b.) Pull ups: 4 x 8-12 reps (straight to lateral raises)
c.) Lateral Raises: 4 x 8-12 reps (2 mins rest and then back to pull ups)

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)

a.) Triceps Rope Extensions:
3 x 8-12 reps (straight to curls)
b.) Incline Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8-12 reps ( 1 minute rest)


a.) 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.

Also, 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.


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About the Author


I'm Greg O'Gallagher the founder of Kinobody.com

31 responses to “Mix it up with this High Rep Upper-body Workout!

  1. 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?

  2. 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?


    1. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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

    1. 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.

  6. @Markus

    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.

  7. @Markus

    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.

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