These days, it’s almost impossible to escape the quintessential IG booty pose, not to mention the ubiquitous peach emoji. While a great behind is key to looking great from behind, true lifters know that the secret to building a well-defined physique is to train and sculpt the upper body as much as the lower.
A solid upper-body routine shapes your chest, shoulders, back, and arms while adding strength to your heaviest lifts. Though most women feel more comfortable training legs, adding upper-body work can boost confidence as much as strength. Here are three upper-body workouts—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—to help you build and shape your arms while tightening your core to create that flawless hourglass shape.
Beginner Upper-Body Workout
If you are new to resistance training or are just getting back into the swing of things after some time off, this no-equipment-required beginner workout will get you started on your upper body. It uses bodyweight movements to target the shoulders, chest, back, and core. You’ll perform each exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next.
Once you complete the full routine, repeat the entire sequence 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds. As a beginner, you should focus on proper form when lifting and consistency in your training schedule. This workout should take no more than half an hour to complete from warm-up to cool-down. Perform it three times a week as part of your fitness routine to begin building upper-body strength right away!
Intermediate Upper-Body Workout
If you have some workout experience under your belt, or if you’ve completed a few weeks of the beginner workout listed above, you can challenge yourself with this intermediate upper-body routine. Perform 3 sets of each exercise, 1-2 times per week, with at least two full days off in between workouts. Train lower body or do cardio on the days off.
This workout requires a set or two of dumbbells, but feel free to use whatever weights you have available. Since this is an intermediate workout, you can adjust it to fit your goals. To build muscle, aim for a rep range of 8-12. If you are limited in equipment and don’t have the ability to use heavier weights, increase your repetitions to 20-30, which will work your endurance and help you burn calories.
Regardless of which goal you choose, this workout is designed to help you get a good pump and sweat! Pause to catch your breath after each set, resting up to 2 minutes, depending on how much weight you’re lifting. How long you rest will dictate the length of the workout, which should be 30-45 minutes.
Advanced Upper-Body Workout
Push past training plateaus with this advanced upper-body routine. It is designed for experienced exercisers who have full gym access, but if you are stuck at home, you can use our Exercise Database to find substitutes for gym-based exercises.
To encourage your body to grow and become stronger, your No. 1 goal is to fatigue the muscle bellies fully during each set. Restrict your rest periods to less than 1 minute to maximize muscle-building potential. This workout uses supersets and dropsets to keep it under an hour, so be ready to work hard and lift heavy!
For a comprehensive training plan that will help you build shapely muscle all over, check out Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer, only on BodyFit.