My workout today: Upper body press and pull

by Ryan Wagner

Historically, I’ve shied away on Motus Fitness when it comes to providing work out programs. I’ve always been happy to offer up concepts and tips, but I never go so far as to say “here’s the formula…” The reason being that everyone is different and without understanding your movement and your history of injuries, I have never (and still don’t) feel comfortable providing a specific workout program. However, it dawned on me today that you might find some real value in understanding the reasoning behind my own personal workout programming. Specifically, my upper body press and pull workout.

I think I’ll write a series of these posts to give you a picture of exactly what I’m doing on a weekly basis. So, let’s get started, shall we?


Today I’ll be working upper body with press and pull movement patterns. I have paired my pressing and pulling movements for years now and my body seems to respond well to this style. And personally, there’s just something so satisfying about “evening things out.”


This is my present Day 1 routine. I’ll hit a similar workout, but with some adjustments made, on Day 3. This gives me 48 hours of rest between hitting the same body parts.


As you’ll see below, I have a mix of traditional weightlifting and gymnastics inspired training. This is a good representation of what I like to do. I’m currently training for my planche, but I still love bench pressing.

The Workout:

Exercise 1: Barbell bench press

Set# Weight Reps
1 bar 12
2 95 12
3 135 8
4 165 6
5 165 6
6 165 6
7 165 6
8 165 6
9 165 6

You’ll see that I include three warm up sets before I even get into my work sets. I’m currently experimenting with a slightly higher than usual rep scheme for strength. Instead of the typical 5 x 5 routine, I am playing with 6 x 6. This is the foundation for my upper body press movement today.

Exercise 2: Bent over barbell rows

After pressing, now I’m pulling.  This is also typical of how I design many of my programs, that I start things off with two big barbell movements. You may notice that I’m weaker with these bent over rows than I am with the pressing. Ideally, I’d be pulling between 1.0x and 1.1x my bench press weight.

Set# Weight Reps
1 bar 12
2 95 12
3 135 6
4 135 6
5 135 6
6 135 6
7 135 6
8 135 6

Exercise 3: Straight arm tuck & hangs

Here, I am alternating between 15 second floor tucks and 15 second bar hangs. I’m giving myself quite a bit of rest too. I do four rounds of each. The tucks are part of my progression to the planche and the bar hangs will help me get to a lever.

Exercise 4: Handstands

I finish everything off with my handstand work. I’ve been experimenting with training my handstands four days a week at the conclusion of each of my workouts. I only make five attempts in all and hold for about 15 – 20 seconds. Three of these handstands are facing away from the wall and the remaining two are facing the wall.

FYI: I’ll write an article on my handstand progress soon. I’ve seen lots of great progress!


There you have it. That’s what I’m going to do at the gym today. That’s my present routine for my upper body press and pull. Did any of it surprise you? I hope that some of the explanation helps you to build your own safe and effective programs.

By Ryan Wagner

My workout today: Upper body press and pull by