What Exercises Help Slim Down the Upper Body?

Slim your upper body with both cardio and strength exercises.
i Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Though the midsection and lower body are two of the biggest problem areas for people wanting to slim down, the upper body can pose a challenge in terms of weight loss as well. The arms and upper part of the torso can also hold excess weight, but doing a mix of upper-body toning exercises can help you target these areas. Additionally, regular cardio activity and healthy food choices can play a role in your upper-body weight-loss plan.

Body-Weight Exercises

Arm-slimming exercises that target your biceps and triceps can be done using only your own body weight as resistance. Effective body-weight exercises include pushups, planks and chair dips. Try one to three sets of five pushups, and if the traditional pushup is too much of a challenge, use a stability ball to support your lower half. You can also try 30 to 60 seconds of planks, which are essentially pushups without the up-and-down movement. These can be done with either your hands or forearms on the floor for support. Chair dips will also tone your arms for a slimmer look; do these by sitting on the edge of a chair with your hands gripping the front of the seat on either side of your legs. Slide forward off the chair and lower your hips toward the floor, bending your elbows and feeling the workout in your triceps. Raise your hips and repeat for eight repetitions. Perform upper-body strength training two to three times per week, taking a day off between routines, to allow your muscles to rest.

Equipment-Based Exercises

Fitness equipment, such as weight machines, free weights, barbells, resistance bands and stability balls, are also highly effective in helping you slim your upper body. You can try reverse flys with a resistance band, which will work your deltoids in your upper back, along with your triceps. Grasp the ends of the band or cable with your arms in front of you at shoulder height, then spread them wide apart to your sides. Use a dumbbell to do biceps curls, where you bring the weight toward your body to work the biceps. With a curl, hold the weight in front of you at hip height and raise it toward your chest. Resistance bands can be used for a variety of upper-body exercises, including a triceps push-down. Loop the band over something sturdy overhead, such as a tree branch, so the ends of the band hang vertically in front of you. Grasp them in each hand with your palms down, then push the bands down as far as you can.


Doing some type of cardio activity a few times a week is another way to boost your upper-body slim down. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two and half hours -- 150 minutes -- of moderate-intensity cardio per week to burn calories and help decrease excess fat and weight. Activities such as brisk walking, jogging or cycling will also help with an overall slim down, but if you want to target your upper body in particular, choose something that works those muscle groups. Swimming, tennis, water aerobics, boxing and rowing are all effective workouts for the arms and shoulders. You could also try activities like jumping rope or using an elliptical trainer with arm levers.

Other Considerations

Strength training and cardio exercise make up two important parts of a plan to slim your upper body, but these aren’t the only areas to consider. Flexibility is another key area of any workout plan, and doing activities to maintain this can also contribute to a leaner look. Yoga, for instance, will gently work your body and increase your flexibility while enhancing lean muscle mass. Diet also plays a major role in any plan to reduce weight, and making good nutritional choices can go a long way in helping you achieve a strong, slim upper body.

the nest