As a woman, you benefit from upper-body weight training in many ways. It will tone your arms, increase your strength and improve your bone health. An upper-body weight training routine only takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete and only uses dumbbells so it can be done in your own home. A complete upper-body routine includes pushing exercises, pulling exercises, triceps exercises and biceps exercises.
Your upper-body weight training routine should include at least two pushing exercises. A pushing exercise is simply one in which you push the dumbbells away from you. Examples include a supine chest press, seated shoulder press, lateral dumbbell raise and dumbbell punches. The weight you choose is important -- choose a weight that allows you to complete 15 repetitions of that exercise but still is challenging. If you feel as if you could do an additional 15 repetitions, the weight is too light. Do not use the same weight for each exercise, make sure to correctly determine the weight for each one.
To work the muscles that oppose the pushing muscles, include pulling exercises into your weight training routine. This helps to maintain muscular balance between your anterior and posterior muscles. Pulling exercises include dumbbell rows, upright rows and reverse flys. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions of each exercise. Focus on maintaining a straight back in all pulling exercises, and choose two to include in your routine. In addition, initiate each repetition by pulling your shoulder blades back, as this helps to instill good posture.
To tone the back of your upper arm, make sure to include at least one triceps exercise in your routine. Choose from overhead triceps extensions of the dumbbell or tricep dumbbell kickbacks. To perform a kickback, stand with one foot in front of the other and lean forward. With a dumbbell in the same hand as the rear leg, stick that elbow to your side. From there, begin the exercise by extending your elbow to kick the dumbbell back behind you. Slowly bring it back to the starting point and repeat 15 times on each side. Make sure to choose a weight that allows you to feel the burn.
To maintain balance in your arms, also include at least one biceps exercise in your weight training program. Biceps curls or hammer curls with dumbbells work well. The only difference between the two is that your palm faces away from you during a bicep curl, and your palms face each other during a hammer curl. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions. To maintain perfect form, stick your elbows to your rib cage, and do not allow your upper arm to move -- you only want movement to occur at the elbow joint, not the shoulder.
- Fundamentals of Anatomy and Movement; Carla Z. Hinkle
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; Michael A. Clark
- ACE Fitness: Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
Scotty Brunning is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer. Having worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, he has a plethora of fitness experience. He is an ACSM-certified health fitness specialist and a Cooper Institute master fitness specialist. Brunning holds a master's degree in health and fitness.