Personal Training Dulwich

Hey Dulwich! Wanna build upper body strength?



Looking to build upper body strength? Not sure where to start? Firstly, you need 4 things if you intend to get stronger. You could call them:

The 4 Principles of strength:

  1. Progressive Overload

  2. Volume

  3. Load (aka weight lifted)

  4. Frequency




This principle refers to continually increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system in order to continually make progress in muscle strength and endurance. I’m sure you guessed it already, in-order to get stronger you must continually lift more and more and make your muscles work harder than they are used to. If you don’t, your muscles will not become any stronger than they currently are.

If you paid attention in history class (I wasn’t a history fan but i remember this) you may have heard of Milo of Croton. Just in case you missed the lesson in class here’s Milo’s story in 3 bullets.


  • Milo of Croton was a 6th-century (BC) wrestler.

  • Milo was a six-time Olympic victor.

  • He was said to have achieved the feat of lifting a full size adult bull.


So what was Milo’s secret? How did he achieve such athletic dominance?

Milo’s most noted form of training was lifting a small calf everyday until it grew into an adult size bull. This completely encapsulates the concept of progressive overload. Lifting a little bit more each day.

I’m sure you’ve guessed, you will not be able to get stronger indefinitely, at some point you will reach your body’s genetic limit but this will take years by which time you will be able to impress your friends and family by going down to your local farm and picking up your very own bull, or at the very least carry your own suitcases and shopping without asking for help or pick up your kids without hurting your back.

Aim to increase your weight by 1kg every week for guys, and 1kg every 2 weeks for women.



Volume = Reps x Sets x Load 

Bench Press Example:


12 Reps x 3 Sets x 50 kg = 1800 kg

For a micro view of your volume, work out your total volume for your individual session using the exact same method above.

For example:

Monday Session


For a macro view of your volume you need to add up the volume of each session for your entire week.

For example, if I were to do the workout above 3 times per week my total volume for the week would be 13,230 kg.

You can increase volume by either increasing your reps, increasing your sets, or increasing the weight lifted.




The load is simply the weight you have in your hands. The load you can lift, move, or carry is the measure of strength in the physical sense.





Frequency relates to how often you train.

Let’s say your training volume is 2000 kg each session and you train 3 times per week.  That means your weekly volume is 6000 kg and;

your monthly volume is 24,000 kg, If you simply add an extra day per week your weekly volume increases to 8000 kg and your monthly volume becomes 32,000 kg.

By just adding one day per week you lift an extra 8,000kg more each month. That’s a massive load more weight (scientific term), enough to help you break through any potential plateaus you will inevitably hit on your fitness journey.




If you want to build upper body strength you need to make sure the program you decide to use has the 4 Principles of Strength built into it.

  • Progressive Overload

  • Volume

  • Load

  • Frequency

Your program must manipulate each one of the 4 principles to ensure continuous progress. After 4 weeks of consistent training you will definitely be stronger than when you started. After 4 months you will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of.

If you want some professional hands-on guidance to show you how to implement good technique into your workout routine, try our 21 Day Kickstarter Programme for £97. Click here to get more info.

If you’re aim is to get LEANER and STRONGER, check out our short video post on portion control