Women who carry excess fat in their upper bodies, particularly around the midsection, are often referred to as apple-shaped. This extra weight increases the risk of several health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. You can't spot reduce your upper half, but a consistent cardiovascular and strength training routine helps you burn fat all over your body, while creating muscle tone at the same time. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new workout program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting two and a half to five hours of cardiovascular exercise each week. For effective weight loss, including in your upper body, you'll likely need times at the higher end of this range. Any activity that elevates your heart rate is a good option. Spread your exercise time out throughout the week to keep your metabolism going. In addition, MayoClinic.com suggests two or three 20- to 30-minute strength-training sessions on a weekly basis. If you are just beginning a new workout routine, start slowly and add time and intensity as you gain strength and endurance.
Cardiovascular exercise burns calories, making it ideal for weight loss. While you can't use it to target your upper body, it will help you drop weight in the area. Choose activities that work the muscles in your core, arms, shoulders and back to enhance the upper-body benefits. Swimming, tennis, baseball, biking and dancing are good choices. Choose an activity you enjoy to increase motivation. Mix and match your favorite forms of cardiovascular exercise to create a well-rounded exercise routine.
Strength training is a good way to create definition in the muscles of your upper body. In addition, this type of exercise helps create lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism and increases your calorie burn. Lifting weights or using resistance bands are good choices. Moves that work your upper body include pushups, crunches, planks, bench presses, biceps curls, triceps dips, flyes and rows. Include at least one set of 12 repetitions at each session, advises MayoClinic.com.
While exercise is an important component to weight loss, a low-calorie diet is vital as well. A meal plan that includes a variety of foods from each food group satisfies hunger while keeping your calorie intake under control. In addition, you'll fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to support your exercise sessions, including complex carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscle function and recovery. Training your upper body is a good way to slim the area, but include moves for your lower body as well. This helps create a well-proportioned look and prevents the risk of injuries due to muscle imbalances.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.