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Strength Training – Upper Limb

Mode | Intensity | Protocol | Duration | Frequency | Type

An adequate upper limb strengthening program can be devised with or without weight equipment. The exercises should be performed slowly and smoothly and ensuring that the patient does not hold their breath during the exercise.

It is generally recommended to perform the exercises in the in the sitting position with back supported.  However, in everyday life upper limb activities are often carried out in standing. Some of the exercises can be performed in standing providing the patient can perform a correct technique.

  • Strength training with weights and weight machines:
    • Hand weights for biceps and triceps.
    • Lat/chest pull down for latissimus dorsi.
    • Chest press for pectorals.
  • Strength training without weights machine:
    • Wall push-ups for pectorals.
    • Theraband resistance for pectorals and latissimus dorsi.

Examples of upper limb strengthening exercises are shown below:

Upper Limb Strength Exercises

(high weight and low repetition)

Shoulder press
The following exercises were adopted from:

Lung Foundation Australia’s Better Living with Exercise- Your Personal Guide


  • Hold a weight in each hand at shoulder height.

  • With one arm, lift the weight straight up and down.

  • Breathe in while lifting the weight up, and breathe out while lowering the weight down.

  • Repeat the exercise with your other arm.

Bicep curl

  • Start with your arms by your sides.

  • Bend your arm at the elbow to lift your hand towards your shoulder, then lower.

  • Repeat the exercise with your other arm.

  • Add hand weights as necessary.

  • This exercise can also be done in the sitting position.

Wall press

  • Stand facing a wall with feet shoulder apart

  • Leaning towards the wall place hands at shoulder height

  • From the start position, bend your elbows moving your body forward

  • Slowly push away from the wall and return to the starting position

  • Ensure to keep body straight throughout