Unless you are a professional athlete, have a physical job that includes lifting, or you have focused intentionally on maintaining your upper body strength, your lower body is probably stronger. Most people just tend to challenge and exercise the muscles of their legs more often than their arms. In general, most women, even moms who lift kids, tend to have a weaker upper body and, with more people working at desks and computers, challenging the chest and upper back area is less frequent these days too. So here’s an upper body, arm, chest, and upper back routine to help you maintain, or gain some strength in this area. You can use any size weights that are appropriate for you, or just create your own resistance by focusing on engaging the muscle and maintaining the engagement through the entire exercise, extension and contraction.
1. Push ups. The traditional kind, on your toes with your hands directly under your shoulders. Bend the elbows and lower the chest toward the floor. Maintain a flat spine by engaging your abdominals Do at least 10, work up to 50 or more in sets of 10.
2. Standing, holding weights or not, lift your arms up alongside your ears and draw your arm bones into your shoulder socket. Make sure you aren’t creating tension in your neck and shoulders, but keep a space there and create strength in your arms. Hold for a few minutes until you feel like you can’t keep your arms lifted any longer, and then relax your arms down.
3. Tricep dips. Sit on a bench or the floor and place your hands behind you with your fingers facing toward your butt. Lift your hips up and keep your feet flat. Bend at the elbows and then straighten the arms. Do 50-100 reps.
4. Incline push ups on a bench, chair or wall. Place your hands on the wall or on a bench and step back so both your arms and legs are straight. Bend the arms along side the body like a push up, but keeping the elbows more in rather than out.
5. Biceps. Using weights or creating your own resistance, stand with feet parallel, knees slightly bent and elbows near your waist. Bend the elbows and draw your palms toward your shoulders, working in both directions. Repeat 20-30 times.
6. Plank. On your hands and toes like in the push up on the floor position, just hold with straight arms, engaging your core both front and back. Maintain for at least 60 seconds.
7. Lying on your stomach, pull your arms up and back behind you. Lift your palms to the sky and flutter your arms up, engaging the shoulder blade area and between the shoulder blades.
8. Chest press. Lie on your back or on a bench. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your spine long. Extend your arms long and out to either side, holding weights in your hands if you would like. Just before your hands reach the floor, lift the arms back up until the hands meet over your chest. Make sure not to arch your spine. Do 20-35 reps.