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Tone & Strengthen the Upper Body with These Easy Exercises

January 4, 2013

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The upper body is one of many problem areas for women, but not so much for men. The arms, triceps, biceps, chest, shoulders and upper back are all incorporated into upper body exercises. For woman, it’s the flab that sags underneath the arm that starts to appear as we age that is a huge detractor. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, women don’t want to have manly looking muscular arms either. For men the upper body is a main part of their work out routine. Many of the upper body exercises require weighted dumbbells or weight bars which can be intimidating for women however; if you are serious about toning your upper body you will need to incorporate strength training.  Nevertheless strength training doesn’t necessarily require weights; rather you can use your own bodyweight as is the case with some of the easiest exercises to tone your upper body.  With strength training exercises you will regain muscle tone and burn fat. Perform 2-3 simple sets of these upper body exercises with 10-20 repetitions a piece.



ARMS

bicep curlBICEPS: Biceps curls
Probably the easiest and most well known arm exercise out there are bicep curls. Most people do bicep curls with weights in their hands but if you are a beginner, you can skip the weights and just make your hand a fist. And your weights don’t necessarily have to be dumbbells, they can be household objects such as a can of soup or a gallon of milk as long as they have some weight to them. You don’t want the item to have no extra weight because then the curls will be too easy and you won’t be building any muscle. Hold the weights in your hands at your sides. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed. Bring your right arm up to meet your bicep (on the front of your arm), flexing your biceps and slowly lower it back down to starting position. Keep your arm steady and slow on the way down. Repeat same motion on the left arm. You can do bicep curls in a couple of ways one arm at a time then switch.




TRICEPS: Dips
Dips target the triceps, the back of the arms, As we get older we lose muscle tone in the triceps which causes sagging and drooping, because we don't use this muscle very often in daily life. Therefore they require proper strengthening exercises to keep the triceps toned. This is one of the major target areas for women. Unlike other tricep exercises, dips use the resistance of ones own body weight to strengthen and tone the muscle. To properly execute a dip you will need to place your back against the edge of a table, chair or any sturdy object. Place your hands behind you and grasp the edge with your fingertips facing forward.  With your weight on your arms slowly lower your body down towards the ground, keeping your back side close to the table (chair, bench, etc.) until your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Slowly bring yourself backup until your arms are straight again. Remember to use the strength of your triceps to lower and raise your body. Do not use your legs or momentum during the action.



Triceps Press
The tricep press is another way to tone your triceps however this exercise requires hand weights or dumbbells. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, weights in hand. Slightly bend at the knees, and lean forward to about a 45 degree angle. Bring your arms up in front of you at a 90 degree angle so they are parallel to the floor. Bring your elbows back close to your body. Now bring the weights back behind your body until your arms are straight. Remember to keep your head,neck and back straight in line with each other no arching, and keep those elbows close at your sides.
To get extra results, on the last repetition of eat set, hold your arms straight out behind you and pulse up no more than a few inches to really tire out the triceps muscle.



push upsCHEST: Pushups
Pushups are one of those basic exercises that is required in grade school physical education classes, so you should already know how to do them. Most people hate to do them but they are an easy exercise to tone all the areas of the upper body, arms, chest, shoulders and upper back. Pushups can be difficult for those whose muscles are not strong so you can modify it at first by putting your knees on the ground or starting at an incline against the wall. Once you have started to tone the upper body muscles then you can go back to a traditional pushup with your hands and feet on the floor. Remember proper form with your body in a straight line, don't sag your core, arch your back or raise your butt. To make your pushups more difficult put your feet up on a step or bench or remove on hand from the ground using only one arm to raise and lower your body.



overhead raise, shouldersSHOULDERS: Overhead Raise
Many upper body exercises will also work your shoulders in addition to arms and upper back, such as pushups do. But if you are looking for an exercise to isolate the shoulders then overhead raises are it. They are an easy exercise to tone and strengthen the shoulders. Stand feet shoulder width apart with weight sin your hands. Bend your arms at the elbows bringing the weights up to your shoulders. Then raise the weights straight above your head and return back to your shoulders.





bent over row, backB
ACK: Bent Over Row
When working any part of the body its important to work both the muscles in the front and back of the body. So when working the upper body remember to strengthen the upper back to reduce the risk of injury. The easiest exercise to strengthen the upper back is bent over rows. Stand feet shoulder width apart, with weights in your hands. Slightly bend the knees and bend at the waist, keeping your back flat so its parallel to the floor. Let your hands and weights hand down towards the floor with your palms facing your knees. Pull your arms up to your chest in a rowing motion then slowly bring them back down towards the floor. Remember do not round your back and do not use momentum when bringing your arms up or down.

Supermans
Although super mans target strengthening the low back they also require the use of the arms. BY strengthening the entire back you reduce the risk of injury. Lie on your stomach with your arms out in front of you. Simultaneously raise your arms and legs a few inches off the ground, hold for several counts then release back to the ground. You can make this exercise more difficult by raising one arm and the opposite leg at the same time, then the other arm and leg.