Ok, so you have the lower half dialed in or you are working on it! Also, you may have skipped it all together since it will be under water and you aren’t concerned about it… (We can talk about that later!)
Either way, we can move on to the Upper body. Having a strong upper body is not just great for aesthetics, but will help with posture and day-to-day activities. Upper body strength can also help you master some of those lower body exercises that require both!
The following exercises are some of my favorites for the different muscles in your upper body. Much like we discussed we discussed with the lower body blog, if you’re nutrition is not dialed in, you will not see as good of results.
- Pull-ups: I know many struggle to do pull-ups or chin-ups. It can be frustrating to grab the bar, give it your all and only move about a ¼ of an inch. With that said, I challenge you to do pull-ups to build strength and definition in your back while working your core and keeping pressure off your low back. If you are unable to complete a pull up, I suggest you start at the top and slowly lower yourself for reps. If you’re unable to lower yourself (you’re just dropping) then use an assisted machine or a TRX band for momentum.
- Incline press: Whether a bar, smith or dumbbells I like incline press for both men and women. Men, it’s a great way to work “the upper part of the chest” and fill out your shirts! Women, your breasts are either primarily fat or implants, so working the “upper” is ideal to help your breasts to stay “lifted”. Keep in mind, when you work a muscle you work the entire muscle, so you cannot just work your “upper” chest. I suggest the bench be at an angle of at least 45 degrees and no more than 60 to target your pecs.
- Lateral Raises: Some call these side dumbbell raises. Make sure you keep your hands to the side (I like to think thumbs in pockets) and do not bounce them off your hips. Bringing the dumbbells in front will shift the emphasis from your side delts (in your shoulders) to your traps. This exercise is great to build the “caps” in your medial (side) delts and help with posture.
- Dumbbell Curls: Good ol’ fashion dumbbell curls are excellent for working the entire bicep, especially if you start with your palms with a neutral grip (facing in) and as you curl turn them up (supination).
- Skull Crushers: I prefer to use dumbbells rather than an EZ curl bar or straight bar as I find I can squeeze my triceps more and I am able to work each arm independently. Either on a ball, bench, floor or incline lay on your back with your palms facing in. Slowly lower to the side of your forehead then breath out and straighten (being mindful to not have the dumbbells pushed against one another).
- Planks: Planks are excellent at working your core, while getting your shoulders involved a little. They help you to be overall mindful of keeping your core tight when doing other exercises. Normally planks are held for time. Shoot for at least 1 minute.
There are countless upper body exercises and several for each body part. I wanted to provide you with one exercise per muscle group for your upper body, but suggest for greatest results you choose at least 3 and complete 10-16 sets per muscle group.
Scott Keppel is the owner of Scott’s Training Systems, a world-class coaching facility in Chandler, Arizona. He is a nationally certified trainer through NASM and ISSA. His mission is to empower women of all ages and fitness levels.