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The Easiest & Most Effective Workout for a Toned Upper Body

Achieve a slimmer physique with these simple exercises from a professional trainer.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

When you're just getting started on your weight loss journey or dipping your toes into a new method of training, it can feel a bit intimidating. This beginner's anxiety may even cause you to steer clear of the gym altogether. But remember that everyone is a beginner at some point, and the most challenging part of the journey is usually taking that first initial step. It's also important to show confidence in being a beginner, because progress is just around the corner! So long as you have the right game plan on deck, you can hit up the gym (or your workout locale of choice) knowing exactly what to do, like a total pro! Chrisi Moutopoulos, personal training regional manager at GYMGUYZ, walks us through the ultimate beginner-friendly workout for a toned upper body.

Slimming down and sculpting a slender physique may seem like a farfetched goal if you don't have the right expert tips and tricks at your fingertips. Moutopoulos curated this workout specifically for beginners, so you have the proper support you need. "Incorporating these easy moves into your routine two to three times a week and modifying your diet will help you achieve that lean, toned upper body," Moutopoulos says. Pair this regimen with a healthy diet full of fresh fruits, veggies, and lean protein, and you're well on your way to achieving the fit figure you desire.

If you're a beginner, grab a set of light weights, and keep reading to learn all about this expert-backed workout for a slimmer upper body. The best part is, if you don't have a gym membership (or simply don't want to dish out the extra cash), this routine can easily be completed at home. Shoot for three sets of 10 to 12 reps if you're working with heavier weights or four sets of 15 to 20 reps if you're using lighter weights.

Bicep Curls

fit woman doing 15-minute total-body workout bicep curls

The bicep curl can either be performed alternating between each arm or curling both arms up at the same time. "Hammer curls with [a] thumbs-up grip incorporates your forearms and triceps more than a traditional curl," Moutopoulos explains.

Stand tall, and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing ahead of you. Keep your shoulders relaxed, activate your core, and bend your elbows as you curl the weights up toward your chest. Make sure your elbows don't stray far from the sides of your body as you do so. Use control to lower the weights back to the start position.

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Lateral or Side Raises

lateral raise illustration

According to Moutopoulos, you should limit your range of motion to shoulder or eye height, and keep your wrists below your shoulders for this exercise. To set up, stand up tall, and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Slowly lift the weights to the sides of your body until you reach shoulder height. Then, gradually lower the dumbbells back down.

Bent-Over Rows

dumbbell row exercise

For the dumbbell bent-over row, plant your right hand and knee firmly on a workout bench. Your back should be straight. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your arm fully extended. Row the weight up toward your chest before lowering it back down to the start position. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

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Chest Press & Chest Flys

woman doing chest press exercise on workout bench

The chest press or chest flys can be completed on a workout bench or on the ground. "Make sure to keep the dumbbells in line with your nipple line to get the most emphasis on the chest," Moutopoulos stresses.

To begin the chest press, lie down flat on a workout bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Press your shoulders into the pad with your arms extended over your body. Slowly lower the weights toward your chest before pressing them back up without locking out your arms.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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