6 Strength Exercises to Sculpt a Fit & Lean Upper Body
How does having a slim, fit upper body sound? You know the body we're talking about—the toned figure that looks amazing in, well, just about everything. If you'd like to make this fitness dream a reality, all you need to start your journey is a pair of weights and some dedication. We've taken care of the rest with six expert-backed strength exercises for a lean upper body.
The absolute best training method to achieve a fit and lean upper body is determined by several factors, according to Danielle Cote, director of training operations and master teacher trainer at Pure Barre. Your lifestyle, level of fitness, body proportion and composition, injuries, body coordination and awareness, and your state of emotions and intent will play a huge role in choosing just the right workout. Based on what works best for your own habits, body, and goals, a combination of the following six exercises can help you sculpt a fit and lean upper body.
1. Overhead Press
To begin, stand tall while holding a three to six-pound dumbbell in each hand. Position your feet around hip-width distance apart with gently bent knees. Bring your shoulders over your hips while moving your weight forward just a bit. Inhale as you gradually extend your arms and press the dumbbells overhead. Once you reach the top of the motion, exhale and gradually lower the weights to the position you started in. Complete this exercise for 10 reps (a total of 30 seconds).
2. Bicep Curls
It's no secret that sleek, toned biceps are essential for an overall fit physique. That's why the bicep curl is one of Cote's top-recommended strength exercises for a lean upper body.
To work on your biceps, have a weight in both hands. Plant your feet hip-width distance apart with a slight bend in your knees. Keep your arms by your sides. Then, bend your elbows to curl the weights up toward your shoulders. Breathe out when lifting. Then, inhale as you bring the weights back down to the start position. Perform this exercise for 15 reps (a total of 30 seconds).
3. Chest Press
To start the chest press, have a dumbbell in each hand. Position your feet about hip-width distance apart with a slight bend in both knees. Hold the weights together at the front of your body so that your arms create an "O" position. Gradually press the arms open as you bring your elbows back, then gradually bring them back to the starting position with the weights together. Cote says to picture sliding both arms across a flat table. Do this exercise for 10 reps (a total of 30 seconds).
According to Cote, depending on the weights you choose, you can speed things up. She recommends completing a sped-up version of this exercise for 20 reps (a total of 30 seconds).
4. Work the Shoulders
Sleek shoulders are necessary for the overall package.
To begin activating the shoulders, have a dumbbell in each hand. Plant your feet the distance of your hips with a slight bend in your knees. Your arms should be extended straight in front of your body at the height of your shoulders. Make sure your palms face the ground. Gradually lower the dumbbells to your thighs before slowly coming back up to shoulder height. Do this exercise for 10 reps (a total of 30 seconds).
Then, hold the dumbbells up at shoulder height, keeping them still for 20 seconds.
5. Work the Triceps
Now, it's time to move on to the triceps.
You'll begin with a dumbbell in each hand. Plant your feet hip-width distance apart with a slight bend in both knees. Hinge your hips forward. Bring both elbows back and up toward the sky as you straighten out your arms. Then, bend both arms to bring the dumbbells toward your shoulders before returning them to the starting position. Do this exercise for 15 reps (a total of 30 seconds).
Next, hold your arms out straight and raise the weights up to the sky. This should be a "small range of movement," Cote explains. Do this for 15 reps (a total of 20 seconds).
Last but not least, we'll wrap up these strength exercises for a lean upper body with pushups.
Begin in a plank position with your hands just outside your shoulder span. Bring both legs back so that you're on the balls of your feet and your feet are planted hip-width distance apart. (You can also assume a variation of the classic pushup by doing this exercise on your knees.) After you're set up, your chest should descend toward the ground before you push yourself back up to a high plank. Do this exercise for 10 reps.
Then, bring your fingers in toward one another. Descend toward the ground once again before pushing yourself back up. Do this exercise for 10 reps.
Finally, place your hands right below your shoulders with all fingers pointing forward. Bring your chest down toward the ground before pressing your body back up. Do this exercise 10 times.