A toned and sculpted upper body is something every woman wants. Unfortunately, many women cite arms, shoulders and back as their biggest problem areas. For most women, the goal is to tone the upper body without adding bulky muscle. The following exercises require little to no equipment, and are designed to help women get the upper body they’ve always wanted.
This simple exercise is great at toning shoulders and upper arms. Targeted muscle groups include biceps, triceps and deltoids. What’s more, they require no equipment and can be done virtually anywhere!
- Simply sit on a chair or bench, with your butt right on the edge of the seat.
- Place hands on either side of your legs and grab onto the seat.
- Bend elbows and slowly lower yourself toward the floor
- Straighten your arms, bringing yourself back up. Repeat 8-10 times.
Variation: To add more spice to this dips exercise, rest your feet on a stability ball
Free weights aren’t just for men. Women too, can reap the great benefits associated with lifting weights. However, to avoid adding bulky muscle, opt for dumbbells that weigh between three and ten pounds. These curls will tone biceps, forearms and shoulders to perfection.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a 3-7 lb. dumbbell in each hand, palms facing outward.
- Slowly curl left arm, bringing the dumbbell up to your shoulder.
- Make sure your upper arm stays locked the entire time
- Return left arm to starting position, then begin right arm curl. Repeat 10 times with each arm.
Variation: To make this biceps curl exercise more challenging, lie down on a Swiss ball, and replace the dumbbells with a resistance band (which allows you to control the intensity of your workout).
Pushups are excellent to sculpt a toned upper body. If a traditional pushup is too strenuous for you, try a simple knee pushup. This exercise targets biceps, forearms, pectoral muscles and core. When doing any type of pushup, it’s important to keep the entire core in alignment: make sure neck, shoulders, back and hips form a straight line.
- Lying on a mat, assume the traditional pushup position.
- Push up slowly, but allow your knees to remain on the ground instead of balancing on the toes.
- Lower yourself back down, but don’t come to a complete rest. Repeat 15-20 times.
Variation: Have fun with this exercise by inviting one of your friends, and performing a partner clap pushup.
Free Weight Shoulder Press
This great exercise really works the back, shoulders and triceps.
- Holding a set of 3-7 lb. free weights, stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- With your back straight and abs tight, raise weights to shoulder level.
- Slowly raise arms straight up in the air, then lower them back down to starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.
Variation: To add a little more challenge to this routine, combine the shoulder press with squats
Free Weight Lateral Raise
This move is a surefire way to tone shoulders, arms and the entire back.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and with knees slightly bent.
- Slowly raise arms upward and outward, until elbows are aligned with shoulders.
- Lower arms to starting position. Repeat 8-10 times.
Variation: If you want a little more challenge, raise the weight of the dumbbell slightly, but offset it by raising only one arm at a time
As this exercise targets the triceps, it’s a perfect solution to flabby upper arms. This move also tones shoulders and forearms.
- With elbows bent, hold one dumbbell behind the head with both hands.
- Straighten arms and raise dumbbell over head.
- Lower arms to starting position. Repeat 10-12 times.
Variation: Kill two birds with one stone by coupling the overhead extension with an abdominal routine. Also replace the dumbbell with resistance band
Plank is great for adding lean muscle to the back, as well as toning your triceps, biceps and core all at the same time. For this exercise, make sure to keep your head horizontal and your back in a straight and stable position.
- Lie down flat on the floor on your stomach.
- Lift up your core using both your elbows and the tip of your feet.
- Keep your torso parallel to the floor and hold that position.
- Keep stable for 30-60 seconds.
- Then bring your body back down and repeat 8-10 times.
Variation: If you are a bit advance, challenge yourself by trying the partner plank workout with a friend
Combined, these exercises target the entire upper body and will give women the toned, sculpted look they desire, without adding bulk. Perform these exercises in succession together, or integrate them into a cardiovascular routine for a total-body workout. A firm and healthy body can give a woman confidence in all areas of life, anywhere from wearing a little black dress to getting great health insurance quotes, because of your new healthy lifestyle. So, do not neglect these upper body exercise routines; and in general, exercise 4 to 5 times a week.
Author Bio: Jessica is in the marketing department for a car insurance company and it’s her job to make sure her customers find cheap car insurance. She is married and has two kids. She trains multiple women at her home gym on the weekends.