Today’s post is about working out your back and chest muscles! These muscles are super important when it comes to upper body posture, control, and strength. It is easy for these muscles to become stiff if you are someone like me who works at a desk job from 9am-5pm. I am constantly hunched over typing away and answering phone calls all day. I know for myself by the end of a long work day, my shoulders and neck are sore and stiff. I like to target upper body strengthening exercises at least 3 times a week. You don’t need to be doing these exercises on a daily basis but if you aim for maintaining a certain workout and alternating exercises at least 3-4 times a week, then you are able to maintain your strength gains.
These exercises I have provided for you here are not challenging at all. If you suffer from any upper body pain and weights are a too much for you than perform these exercises with no weights at all. BUT, you should always consult your doctor if you have any preexisting medical conditions that would not benefit from any of these exercises. For those of you who are beginners, try starting off with 3-5lbs weighted dumbbells. Once these exercises become easier for you then try progressing to 8lbs and 10lbs weighted dumbbells. Practice makes perfect, and in this case, practice and participation builds strength :).
Now you may be asking yourself, besides posture what other benefit does strengthening your upper body and back have on your over all well being? Before I answer that I want to point out a disclaimer amongst us women out there. Strengthening your upper body and performing upper body exercises DOES NOT make you bulky. I have encountered many situations where women solely do cardio and leg exercises. They have this misconception that strengthening your upper body will give you a buff and bulky look. This is a myth, and the truth is, in order to get the bulky look you need to work long and hard strenuous hours in the gym. 5lbs-10lbs bicep curls will not get you nearly close to that. In fact the TRUTH to the benefits of upper body exercises allow you to:
- Strengthens Connective Tissues
- Increase Bone Strength
- Promote Fat Loss and Muscle Development
- Increased Energy Levels
- Improves Overall Body image
With any exercise routine and over all body strengthening exercises, if your body carries more muscles, it will burn more calories, which can be helpful in weight loss and over all a more positive outlook on your body image.
Now lets get exercising!
1. Bicep Curls
Stand up straight with legs shoulder-width apart.
Hold the dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forward. Keep your back straight and shoulders rolled back and down.
Bend your elbows and slowly bring the dumbbells up to your chest while breathing out.
Breathe in as you lower the dumbbells away from your chest back to the starting position. Maintain a slow and controlled movement as you straighten your elbows.
2. Lateral Raises
Stand or sit with dumbbell in each hand at your side.
Keep your back straight, brace your core, and then slowly lift the weights out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor, with the elbow slightly bent.
Then lower them back down, again in measured fashion – you’ll find it all the harder if you avoid speeding up.
3. Inclined Pushup
Stand facing bench or sturdy elevated platform. Place hands on edge of bench or platform, slightly wider than shoulder width.
Position forefoot back from bench or platform with arms and body straight. Arms should be perpendicular to body.
Push body up until arms are extended. Repeat.
4. Scissor Skier
Stand tall with your feet together, arms by your side and palms facing your hips
Jump up and bring your right leg forward, left leg back, and reach your left arm up and right arm back
Jump again and switch arms and legs
5. Deadlift Wide Row
Hold your dumbbells low to the ground in front of you
Keep your hips higher than on the deadlift. Bend your knees but keep them back so the bar can’t hit them.
Lift your chest and straighten your back. Don’t move the bar. Don’t drop your hips. Don’t squeeze your shoulder-blades together.
Take a big breath, hold it and pull the bar against your lower chest. Lead with your elbows and pull them to the ceiling. As you come up lift up your torso and straighten your back
6. Front & Back Punch
Bend your torso to about 45 degrees. Bring the dumbbells towards your rib cage while bending back your elbows.
Punch to the front with your right arm and push back with the left arm. Make sure your right palm is facing downward while your left palm is facing the ceiling.
Return to the start position and repeat
7. Split Squat Press
Keep the chest up and look forwards. Seperate the foot in the front of you and extended behind you.
Ensure that the knee does not touch the floor. Both front and back knee should bend to almost 90 degrees
Keep weight on the front heel NOT the toes
Hold the bumbells in the opposite hand than the extended leg in the front.
Pulse up and down in the lunge motion while pushing your dumbbells as you push up with your feet at the same time.
8. Dumbbell Punches
Hold a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells at shoulder height with arms bent, palms facing in.
In a slow, controlled motion,punch your right hand diagonally across your body to the left, keeping it at shoulder level.
Allow your torso to rotate slightly as you punch, but keep your lower body still throughout the move.
Place a dumbbell up over your head laying flat on the ground.
Hips should be flat on the ground with legs bent with feet firmly on the floor.
Grasp the dumbbell with both hands and hold it straight over your chest at arms length. Both palms should be pressing against the underside one of the sides of the dumbbell. This will be your starting position.
While keeping your arms straight, lower the weight slowly in an arc behind your head while breathing in until you feel a stretch on the chest.
At that point, bring the dumbbell back to the starting position using the arc through which the weight was lowered and exhale as you perform this movement.
Hold the weight on the initial position for a second and repeat the motion for the prescribed number of repetitions.
10. Tricep Push-ups
Lie on your side on the floor and cross over and place your left hand towards your right elbow. Make sure that you are holding your torso up at arms’ length.
Lower yourself until your chest almost touches the floor as you inhale.
Using your triceps and some of your pectoral muscles, press your upper body back up to the starting position and squeeze your chest. Breathe out as you perform this step.
After a second pause at the contracted position, repeat on both sides.