Strength training is an essential component of any workout routine, especially for women. As we discussed before, there are various strength training benefits for women that are beyond defined muscles and building strength. But there is often a misconception about lifting weights, many women believe that it will make you bulk up and look manly. This misconception has led to many women neglecting or not training their upper body as much as their lower body. Everyone wants toned legs, a round butt, but what about your arms and back?! They need some love too! 

We’re here to tell you why you should start focusing on training your upper body regularly AND even give you our 10 favorite exercises for toned arms, back, shoulders, and chest. The great thing is that they can be done by all fitness levels and they’re home-friendly so you can workout safely at home or at the gym! 

A large percentage of people have desk jobs and often spend time hunched over a computer or hunched over driving. This can lead to a weak posterior chain. A posterior chain is all the muscles from your backside, so the muscles from your head all the way down to your feet. It plays a huge role in everyday tasks like picking stuff off the floor, jumping, sitting down, standing up… you name it! So if you don’t have strong back muscles your shoulder blades won’t be pulled back keeping you upright, instead you end up hunched over 24/7. 

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix to this – Weight training! Regularly working out your back (and all other upper body muscles) can help improve your posture. It can also help strengthen your core, which will help you sit upright!

  • Push exercises –  Targets pectoral (chest) muscles, lats, triceps, shoulders, and trapezius muscles (shoulders and upper back). 
  • Pull exercises – Targets upper back, center of the back, rhomboids (the top of the back), and bottom of the back.
  • Flexion/Extension exercises – Targets biceps, triceps, wrist flexors and extensors, shoulder muscles, upper abs, chest, and back muscles.

From these, you can create your own home or gym upper body workouts! You can create full upper body workouts, or implement a proper training split to ensure you don’t overuse any specific muscle by splitting it up into push and pull workouts. 

We wanted to make these exercises adjustable for home and gym workouts, so you won’t be needing any fancy or heavy equipment, but you will need these…

  • Dumbbells (5-15lbs) – just pick a weight that you’re comfortable with, and one that challenges you
  • A mat – Not really needed, but good to have if you don’t want to sit on the floor
  • Bench (gym) or table (home)

Oh, and don’t forget to warm-up! Before starting any workout, warm-up properly. Pick a few exercises that will stretch and loosen up the muscles you’ll be working. We recommend the following arm stretches: arm circles, lat stretch, cat and camel, triceps stretch, spinal rotations, and banded pull-aparts. To take your warm-up even further, use a long resistance band to mimic movements you’ll be doing to activate the muscles before adding a heavier weight. Like doing banded bicep curls, rows, shoulder press, etc. Taking the time to warm-up properly will ensure your muscles are activated and ready for the heavy weight they’re about to lift! 


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