As a personal trainer, I’ve found that many of the women I work with want to improve one specific area. Can you guess what it is? It’s not getting amazing legs or a perfectly perky booty (we ALL want that, right?)…

Guessed yet?

Most of them also want to build up their upper body strength.

Which is great, because most women neglect their upper bodies when they train… Which is a shame because having strong and sexy arms and a beautiful back boosts your confidence like you wouldn’t believe!

It’s great to hear that they want to improve this often neglected area, the only problem is they’ve never picked up a weight.

Heck, sometimes they’ve never even stepped into the weight room. Instead, you’ll find them spending hours on the treadmill.

The good news is that you don’t have to step foot in the weight room if you don’t want to, because with a pair of dumbbells and your own body weight you can work on your upper body strength from the comfort of your own home!

Let’s talk about the measuring stick of upper-body strength. Yes, I’m talking about that humble, yet very effective exercise: the push up.

If you find that when you go to do a push up, it’s not pretty – you can barely push yourself back up after you’ve gone down…

Don’t worry, there’s hope!

To get better at push ups you can, of course, do more of them, but it also helps massively if you strengthen the muscles which allow you to complete the movement.

So if you lack upper body strength, and want to improve your push up game, then this workout is exactly what your muscles need.

If you want to rock some seriously sexy arms do these exercises every other day, for 60 seconds each (up to 5 rounds) with a 30 second rest between them.

Plank Holds

Muscles worked:

This is a total body workout. It strengthens your abdominals, chest, core, obliques and shoulders.

How to do plank holds:

  1. Start by getting up on all fours.
  2. Lift and extend one leg to the floor behind you.
  3. Place the ball of your foot on the floor in a push-up position.
  4. Maintain a neutral spine.
  5. If you feel comfortable enough, extend both legs into a full plank position.
  6. Make sure to keep your shoulder blades down and wide on your back during all phases of the exercise.

Note: if you want to make this harder, take a look at these challenging plank variations.

Standing Chest Press

Muscles worked:

Arms, Chest, Deltoids, Pectorals, Shoulders

How to do the standing chest press:

  1. Lay flat on bench, bringing your belly button towards your spine.
  2. Grasp bar with hands shoulder width apart.
  3. Slowly lower the bar towards your chest by flexing elbows.
  4. Avoid letting your back arch and/or head jutting forward.
  5. Press the bar back up extending arms and contracting chest until elbows are fully extended.

Note: this can also be done using dumbbells if a bar is not available.

Tricep Dips

Muscles worked:

Back, Latissimus Dorsi, Shoulders, Triceps

How to tricep dips:

  1. Place your hands shoulder width apart on a bench or stable chair.
  2. Slide your butt off the front of the chair keeping your legs bent at a 90 degree angle in front of you.
  3. Straighten your arms, but keep your elbows slightly bent. You should feel all the tension in the back of your ams.

Bicep Curls

Muscles worked:

Arms, biceps

How to do bicep curls:

  1. Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Palm of hand should be facing up, and curl at the elbows, contracting your biceps.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position.

Half Moons

Muscles worked:

Core, deltoids, shoulders

How to do half moons:

  1. Hold your belly button in and squeeze your glutes for spinal stabilization.
  2. Raise the dumbbells through the full range of motion overhead.
  3. Do not allow your head to ‘jut’ forward as you raise the dumbbells.
  4. Keep your back straight throughout movement.

Dumbbell Rows

Muscles worked:

Back and Neck, Deltoids, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Spinal Erectors

How to do dumbbell rows:

  1. Stand up with dumbbells at sides.
  2. Bend over at hips, with knees soft and not locked.
  3. Keep arms pinned by your side and pull elbows back.
  4. Your shoulder blades should squeeze together.
  5. Lower slowly back to starting position.

Doing these workouts will help you build a stronger back, chest and triceps. These muscles work together to help lower your body down to the ground, then back up to complete the pushups.

If you do this workout and continue practicing your push ups, 10 of them will be a piece of cake in no time!

Teena Cathey

Teena Cathey is a certified personal trainer who focuses on endurance and energy training. She runs two group fitness boot camp classes called Go Harder in Detroit, MI. Teena is author of the free ebook, How to Find The Right Personal Trainer. When not with clients Teena enjoys painting, playing basketball or with her dog Mister. She’s very social, follow her on... Read More

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