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10 Alternative Exercises to Build Muscle and Transform your Upper Body

Use these alternative exercises to enhance your fitness and body.

The following 10 movements are alternative exercises are all functional bodybuilding movements, working to achieve both aesthetics and performance. 

Alternative exercisesSource: Marcus Filly

Functional Bodybuilding – Alternative Exercises

Want to look good and move well? Functional Bodybuilding is an approach to training that can be used a little or a lot to increase strength, correct imbalances, improve movement quality, and help you gain comfort and confidence in a variety of positions, without sacrificing aesthetics.

Revival Strength programs are built around Functional Bodybuilding principles, as well as mixing in Olympic weightlifting and classic functional fitness.

Try adding these alternative exercises into your training. 

1. Barbell Z Press

Don’t let the title be misleading. This is still a fantastic shoulder and upper body strengthening exercise. The mobility emphasis stems from the fact that in order to achieve optimal force in this lift you need to have good thoracic extension and posterior chain mobility. The movement itself can help promote this if done at lighter loads. You can also progress the mobility requirements by starting off sitting on a small stack of weight plates and removing one at a time until your butt is on the floor.

2. Trap Three Raise

3. Standing Filly Press – Alternative Exercises

The Filly Press comes in many forms. This version is performed standing. The same rules apply. Load the off arm with a KB in a proper rack position as demonstrated here. The opposite arm is performing a single arm DB Arnold press and must fully supinated and pronate on every rep. The KB that is in the non-working arm is designed to help build great rack strength and scapular endurance. The two loads don’t have to be the same.

4. Kettlebell Upright Row

Building rock-solid, boulder shoulders wouldn’t be possible without scapular control. If we are able to stabilize the scaps, we can unleash the pull strength potential in the shoulder joint and muscles surrounding.

This movement will target the lateral deltoids, traps, and rhomboids. While you do this move, aim to keep the shoulders pulled down and back, which will create this scapular control we are seeking.

Add this into the C series accessory work for your upper pull days of training:

5. Half Kneeling Landmine Twist – Alternative Exercises

There is a distinct lack of rotational movement in most functional fitness programs. The time has come to change that. Rotate more with this kneeling twist. A landmine is a great tool to take advantage of in order to build some rotational work into your training.

6. Eccentric Kipping HSPU

Within FBB if we can take a specific aspect of a movement and deconstruct it a bit by slowing down contraction speed, we can find ways to enhance strength, positions, and timing of movement. That is the case with the eccentric focused version of the kipping HSPU. By slowing down the lowering phase of the exercise, clients build more awareness, strength, capacity, and stability in the pressing movement.

This is a great way to build in some additional time under tension while also keeping the movement a bit more safe on the cervical spine since you aren’t crashing down on your head each rep.

7. Kettlebell Floor Press – Alternative Exercises

Don’t underestimate the challenge of a kettlebell. This one will challenge shoulder stability and strength in the forearm – the unbalanced nature of the bell will force you to lock in a smooth vertical path from the floor to the top position.

8. Barbell Prone Row

The prone row is a great tool for developing upper back strength. As compared with the bent row, there is not demand on postural endurance or strength for this exercise. That allows for beginners to utilize this for great back training.

9.  Single Arm Dumbbell Split Jerk

While most athletes have a dominant foot that they split forward with when they jerk, the SA DB Split Jerk is a great way to work on your side to side coordination and balance since you should be switching the lead leg depending on which arm is loaded.

10. Supinated Grip Deadlifts – Alternative Exercises

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