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This is the Best Upper Body Workout

Want to skip leg day, or build a bigger back and tone your shoulders muscles. Whatever reason you want to build upper strength, we got you the ultimate workout for it.

The Ultimate Workout

As mentioned earlier, we have divided the best upper body workout in CrossFit according to three categories:

  • With full gym equipment available
  • With minimum equipment (dumbbell, jump rope, or kettlebell available)
  • Equipment free

Best Upper Body Workout RX’d

If you look into the CrossFit forums and on Reddit threads, many athletes agree that the hero WOD JT is the best workout that focuses on your upper body. Hell, we even put it on third in our list of top 10 hardest CrossFit bodyweight workouts.

But we wanted to bring something different to the mix and look beyond one of the obvious choices. So we present you the “Who’s Calling” workout.

“Who’s Calling”

5 rounds for form:

  • 12 ring push-ups at tempo 30×1
  • 12 ring rows (feet elevated) at tempo 30×1

The order of the tempo number is read from top to bottom. In this exercise, you should take 3 seconds to lower your body during the push-up, hold your position for 0 seconds (do not pause at the bottom), the X means you need to explode back to your starting position as quickly as you can, and the last number 1 means you start the next rep one second after reaching the starting position.

The same applies for the ring rows with elevated feet (which are harder then normal ring rows). Three seconds to pull your body up, do not pause at the top, explode quickly to starting position, wait one second and continue with the next rep.

This workout is a killer because it focuses on form instead of making the movements in a fast manner. A normal push-up is one of the best exercises for the chest and it also targets your arms and shoulder. Adding the unstable factor of the ring activates your core more than a normal push up. The ring row flares up all your back muscles with that extra instability factor. You will feel your arms, back and shoulders fired up after five rounds.

Workout by David Scharff https://www.instagram.com/scherp_/?hl=en

Best Upper Body Workout (Minimum Equipment)

Climbing The Everest”

18 minutes AMRAP:

0-6 minute

  • 1 push-up
  • 2 renegade rows (45/25 lb)
  • Mountain climbers*

6-12 minute

  • 2 push-ups
  • 4 renegade rows
  • Mountain climbers*

12-18 minute

  • 3 push ups
  • 6 renegade rows
  • Mountain climbers*

* add 2 mountain climbers each round

Score is the number of mountain climbers you do in 18 minutes.

On the first set, between minute 0 and 6, you do one push-up and two renegade rows (one with the left arm and one with the right arm) and add two mountain climbers every time you finish a round of push-up and renegade rows.

At the start of minute 6 you double your amount of push-ups and renegade rows, but continue to add two mountain climbers at the end of each round. For example, if you managed to finish round 1 with 12 mountain climbers, then at the first set of round 2 (between minute 6 and 12) you do two push-ups, four renegade rows (two on each side) and 14 mountain climbers. The same applies when you pass on to the third part of the AMRAP workout.

Don’t be fooled by the name. “Climbing the Everest” might sound like a leg workout, but you will focus mainly on your upper body. The renegade row is a powerful variation of the dumbbell row that actives your core by putting you in the plank position the entire time.

Workout by Lucas B Ferreira

Best Upper Body Workout (No Equipment)

For this workout you need only a place in which to perform pull-ups.


4 rounds for time:

  • 10 L-pull-ups
  • 15 push-ups
  • 15 chest-to-bar pull-ups
  • 15 push-ups
  • 20 pull-ups
  • 15 push-ups

Your shoulders will be asking for help and some good resting time after completing this workout. A push-pull workout that gets you up on the bar and down on the ground doing different variations of a pull-up and finishing with 15 push-ups.

Best upper body workoutSource: Rehband

Weaver is a hero WOD in honor of U.S. Army Lieutenant Todd W. Weaver who died on September 9, 2020 in Afghanistan. This workout was first posted on CrossFit.com as the workout of the day for March 18, 2011.

Bonus Workout Equipment Free

Since it is almost consensus in the CrossFit community, we could not let workout JT out of this list. Although we have found an equipment-free version of the workout that can be performed nearly anywhere.


For time:

21-15-9 reps of:

  • Handstand push-ups
  • Dips*
  • Push-ups

The original JT asks for ring dips, but you can perform the movement scaled. Instead of ring dips, you may perform a normal dip utilizing two chairs, or tables, next to you to elevate and dip your body.

The triple threat of handstand, dips and push-ups leaves no room for upper body weaknesses. For a true test of gymnastic strength, do the movements strict.

JT is another Hero WOD that honors Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor who died in June 2005.

You want more? Check out these other 8 CrossFit workouts to build upper body strength.

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