When you exercise, you need to make sure your routine is balanced. Each muscle group needs to be addressed and you should incorporate exercises that address strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health and balance. Here are five tips for improving your upper body workouts.

1. Give Focus to Each Muscle Group in Your Upper Body

Whether you want to strengthen your back muscles or incorporate a killer bicep and tricep workout, it’s important to create a balanced routine. You should work the muscles you want to build or strengthen harder than others, but you shouldn’t neglect any of your upper body muscle systems. That means if you want to strengthen your shoulders, you need to maintain your muscle tone and strength in your pectorals, arms and back as well. This will help ensure your entire upper body is balanced and no one muscle group is weaker than the others.

2. Make Sure You Maintain Proper Posture

When you exercise, you need to do it properly so there is less risk of injury. One of the ways you can do this is by maintaining proper posture, particularly when you exercise your upper body. If you exercise with poor posture, you may pull muscles or sprain joints. In general, proper posture involves keeping your back straight and your shoulders down, but there can be differences in posture requirements depending on the type of exercise you’re doing. For example, if you’re doing lateral shoulder raises, you should keep a small bend in your elbows to better protect your joints.

3. Do a Variety of Exercises

There are many types of upper body exercises that you can do and it’s best to incorporate a variety of movements and workout styles into your routine, no matter what your exercise focus is. Exercise is effective as long as you do it regularly and in safe ways, but it can get tedious if you do the same movements every time you work out. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your routine and aren’t getting bored, incorporate varied movements and tools. If you’re working out at home, learn how to do various movements that use simple tools or only body weight. If you go to a gym, learn to use rowing machines, cable machines and barbells.

4. Know What You Want from Your Exercise Routine

You should have a goal when you begin exercising because that will help you have a reason to continue being active. Your goal can be anything, big or small. For example, some people work out to increase their strength while others do so to lose or maintain weight. Any reason is a good one as long as it keeps you returning to your routine. Knowing what you want to get out of your routine also helps you determine what tools you need and how to structure and plan your routine.

5. Modify Your Workout When Necessary

No matter what your goals are, make sure you incorporate modifications when you need to. Someone with arthritis will likely benefit more from a low-impact routine because that type of routine is meant to help protect the joints. Even healthy individuals may experience injuries that require them to modify their routines for periods of time. If you experience an injury, it’s important that you modify your workout appropriately while you heal. Otherwise, you may worsen your injury or cause a related injury. This can happen when you try to protect one muscle group or joint by overworking another, causing stress injuries and muscle strain.

Tailor your upper body workout routine to your goals and what your body can handle. You’ll need to do different exercises depending on whether you want to tone, bulk up or maintain muscle mass. You’ll also need to adjust your routine to your health. If you have a chronic illness, for example, you may need to do fewer reps or exercise for shorter periods of time.