I have trained my upper body muscles many different ways and have achieved results with each method. However, the workout split that has worked the best for me over the years has been the push-pull system. It involves training all the push muscles in one session and the pull muscles on a separate day. It allows certain muscle groups to rest completely while others are worked. This in turn lets me workout more often. Thus, I am able to train body parts multiple times a week without putting undo stress on my body.
Below is an example of one of my recent upper body push workouts:
Incline Dumbbell Chest Press: 4 sets X 15 reps
Tip: Using dumbbells instead of a barbell forces you to stabilize your shoulders and core the entire time. This balances strength on each side of your body.
Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 4 sets X 15 reps
Tip: Keep a slight bend in the elbow. The movement will only happen at the shoulder joint and at the wrist, not at the elbow joint.
Barbell Chest Press: 3 sets X 20 reps
Tip: I used to do heavy chest presses but found that they caused me shoulder pain and I was not receiving the full benefit of the exercise. I now concentrate on maintaining a good range of motion, going higher rep , and pushing through my chest.
Pec Dec Flyes: 3 sets X 15 reps
Tip: Pause at the top of the exercise (pads in) for a count of 3, squeezing the chest for maximum intensity.
Tricep Dips: 4 sets X 10 reps
Tip: You may use a dip assist machine, if you are new to this exercise and do not have the strength to perform it. These machines use weight to help you push your bodyweight.
Iso Lateral Shoulder Press: 4 sets X 15 reps
Tip: The Iso Press independently engages diverging and converging motions for equal strength development and muscle stimulation. Also, the back pad is angled 40 degrees for stabilization and to eliminate hyperextension of the spine. Keep tension on the muscles by not returning the weight to the stops until the set is complete.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 7 sets X 10 reps
Tip: Maintain the torso in a stationary position, lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend on the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward as if pouring water in a glass. To keep resistance targeted to side delt, torso should be bent over slightly.
Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Flyes: 4 sets X 15 reps
Tip: I use an alternate grip that really targets my rear deltoids. Hold the top of the dumbbell as if pouring water out of a jug, pinky fingers facing out.
Tricep Cable Rope Push Down: 3 sets X 15 reps
Tip: A slight bend forward at the waist allows me to really hit my triceps. Remember to keep the belly in, chest up, and booty out!
Tricep Cable Bar Pressdowns: 3 sets X 15 reps
Tip: I like to use the bar in addition to the rope, because the bar allows me to push more weight.
Decline Weighted Sit ups: 3 sets X 20 reps
Tip: I like to imagine that my abs are the only way I can lift and lower my body with stability and control.