You don't have to pump iron to get a hard-core upper-body workout. Low-impact exercises place little or no stress on your bones while strengthening your muscles and your joints. Any upper-body exercise that does not require you to come into sudden contact with a hard surface is a low-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises might be easy on your joints and bones, but you will experience positive results. You still get a muscle-toning, fat-burning workout.
Warm-Up and Stretching
Warm up your muscles by doing some light exercise followed by some stretching. Light aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and improves the flow of blood to your muscles and joints. Stretching helps to increase joint flexibility, and you will reduce your risk of a strained muscle or a sprained joint by warming up before you work out. Low-impact warm-up exercises include calf raises, overhead pectoral muscle stretches and shoulder press exercises.
Those stretchy exercise bands in the bottom of your closet are a good way to get a low-impact upper-body workout. Resistance bands help strengthen your muscles and improve muscle tone in your entire upper body. Attach the bands to a door or wall mount or just stand on one end of the band and pull. A few exercises you can do with your resistance bands include biceps curls, triceps extensions, chest presses and band rows for your chest, shoulders and upper back. ACE suggests one set of 12 to15 repetitions of each exercise for beginners; more advanced exercisers can do two or three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.
A cool dip in the pool can be the perfect opportunity to work your upper body. Swimming works your arms, chest and upper back as well as your abs and legs. Swimming places virtually no impact on your joints while working your upper body to strengthen and tone your muscles. Don't worry if you can't swim. You can still put on some hand paddles and work out your arms, shoulders and chest. Stand in water about chest deep while you push and pull the water with your hand paddles.
Body-weight exercises are one of the most effective ways to strengthen your upper body and get firm, sculpted muscles. You don't need exercise equipment to do body-weight exercises. Your body and the force of gravity is all you need. Pushups are a simple but powerful exercise to firm and tone your upper body and abs. The plank is another challenging body-weight exercise for your upper body. Use a sturdy chair or exercise bench to perform some triceps dips to firm and sculpt the back of your arms. Try to hold the plank for 30 seconds or longer. To feel the burn doing pushups and triceps dips, do at least 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.