What exercises should I do to tone my arms and upper body?
TODAY'S question came from a reader who has been following the exercises in the article I wrote some weeks back on the best exercises for great legs, wondering how to work on the arms and upper body to get them into equally as good shape.
The good news is that great arms can actually come quite quickly and with exercises that are just as easy to follow as the ones I gave for the legs.
Don't forget, spot-reducing just isn't possible so these exercises are best used when combined as part of a full body programme. Add them into your current routine or use them as part of a new routine, just make sure you have leg exercises in there too.
With my female clients I always aim to develop a toned and shapely upper body that is sexy and feminine. I use angles of movement and specific exercises to develop this shape and these are some of the exercises that I use with my clients.
Don't worry, these exercises will work just as well for men, and for the guys who want to build some more muscle simply reduce the reps to 10 or 12 and up the weight.
In general, for all the exercises aim for 20 reps and three sets in total, in terms of weight ensure that you are working hard enough to struggle on the last two reps of each exercise.
To make it easy to follow I have taken the upper body into separate areas and given you the best exercises for that body part:
The easiest and best exercise for the chest in my opinion is the dumbbell bench press. By using dumbbells, you allow each arm and chest muscle to work on its own. Make sure to keep your legs up on the bench while you are doing it, this ensures that your back is safe.
Lower your dumbbells down to shoulder level and then press them back up , meeting them in the middle, being conscious to let the chest do all the work, by keeping the weight light enough you will be able to do this
There are three parts to the shoulder muscles and normally the front part is the one that's most developed, rounding the shoulders and making you look narrower.
You want an exercise that will work all three parts and help to pull the shoulders back, improving your posture and structure. The simplest exercise to do this is called a side lateral raise.
Start with your feet shoulder width apart, dumbbells by your side. Raise your dumbbells up to the side and return back down.
The important thing is to ensure your shoulders are pulled back, not forward like so many versions. This engages the rear deltoid helping to improve your posture and helping to avoid the rounded shoulder look.
Men and women both hate the soft tissue on your back. Never good for many reasons, especially for your posture.
There are so many muscles in the back it's important to do an exercise that targets as many of the muscles as possible.
My favourite back exercise is the reverse grip lat pulldown.
The Lat Pulldown is a machine that most gyms will have and one that so many people don't actually use.
You sit into the machine, turn your hands facing you, your grip shoulder width apart. Simply lower the bar to your chest and return to a locked out arm position, to get a full extension as it really helps to tone the muscle.
No matter what shape your biceps are, they will tone up simply and effectively with some hard work.
The simplest and most effective exercise is without a doubt the bicep curl. You can do them standing or seated, the essential point is to keep your elbows by your side, this ensures that the biceps do all the work.
The second point to remember is that you should never use your back to lift the weight by swinging, always sit tall, stomach engaged by keeping it tense and focus on your arms doing all the work.
Start with the hands fully extended, curl the dumbbells up and return them back down.
Want to know how to improve the tone of the back of your arms? Dips, dips and more dips! Got to love these. Simple to do and you can also do them anywhere.
Start by sitting on a bench or a chair. Place your hands by your side and simply bend the elbows, lower your body towards the floor and then extend the arms out, keeping your back close to the chair or bench at all times!
There you have it, some more simple and effective exercises for you to add into your routine that will help to get you great results!