Ditch your jogging, stationary bikes and aerobics classes and jump on board the weights train. Training with weights is the only way to get the toned, lean, defined body you want. You can forget about sticking to weight machines or just doing a few pushups on your knees, too. To get great results, you've got to hit the weights hard. Contrary to what you might think, women should train the same as men. You'll get the same benefits out of lifting weights as a guy would, notes New Jersey-based strength coach Joe DeFranco. Train your chest, back and arms together twice a week to build an amazing upper body.
Afraid of getting big and bulky? Don't be. Ignoring your chest training can leave you with a disproportionate physique and at higher risk of injury, writes trainer Shannon Clark of Bodybuilding.com. Start your workout with either a bench press or dumbbell press on a flat bench. These are both compound exercises, so they don't just work your chest -- they hit your shoulders and triceps, too, helping to banish those bingo wings. Move to an incline exercises second -- either dumbbell or barbell presses again, or flyes with dumbbells or a cable machine.
Your back works in two planes of motion -- vertically and horizontally. Pick one exercise for each. Horizontal exercises hit your rhomboids and mid-traps in the center of your back while vertical movements work your lats (the muscle that runs from your armpit to your hip). Powerlifter and strength coach Nia Shanks recommends choosing barbell rows, dumbbell rows or inverted rows (like a chinup but performed sitting underneath a supported barbell with your feet on the floor) for your horizontal movements and chinups (assisted or body weight), or lat pulldowns on a cable machine for your verticals.
Your arms already take quite a beating from working your chest and back, but there's no harm in throwing in an extra couple of exercises for them, especially if you want to avoid saggy arm syndrome. For triceps, perform close grip pushups either on your knees or toes or head to the cable machine for a few sets of press-downs. As for biceps, if you've already performed chinups they'll be tired as it is, so stick to basic barbell, dumbbell or cable curls.
Sets, Reps and Progression
Don't get too caught up in complicated rep schemes to begin with. The basics are the basics because they work, so stick with the standard three sets of 10 on each exercise. If you can hit three sets of 10 on an exercises while maintaining good form, increase the weight in your next session. If not, keep plugging away. If you stall on an exercise two weeks in a row and can't add weight or reps, change it for another. Make sure you balance out your chest, back and arm workout with leg training and cardio, too.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.