An upper body strength workout for women that targets every muscle in the upper body! Get strong, toned arms with these 5 upper body strength training exercises.
You don’t need fancy gym equipment or exercises like dumbbell bench presses and chin-ups to build strong arms — there are plenty of upper body workouts you can do at home with just a set of dumbbells.
The upper body is made up of several large muscles, including the:
We’re going to fatigue all of these upper body muscles in this strength training, metabolism boosting workout; done in a repetition drop format.
A rep-drop format means that you decrease the number of reps per exercise each set.
This format strives to work each upper body muscle to the point of failure in order to build muscle. The goal is to maintain (or increase) the weight you are using as you decrease the reps performed.
You should be struggling to complete the last few reps of each exercise with good form – that’s how you know you chose challenging weights.
A strong upper body helps improve posture, makes everyday tasks easier, and can give your other workouts a boost! The chest and back are some of your largest muscle groups. HIIT workouts and circuit training often involve these large muscle groups, so keeping them strong will make your other workouts better, too!
The best upper body exercises for women are compound movements that target multiple muscle groups at once. For example, upper body weight training routines for women should include both ‘push’ exercises (targeting the chest, shoulders and triceps) and ‘pull’ exercises (targeting the back and biceps).
I would pair this 10-minute upper body workout for women with this 15-Minute HIIT Cardio Workout for a major calorie burn! Or I would add these 5 upper body exercises onto one of these upper body workouts as an ‘arm burnout’. I also recommend cooling down with this stretch routine: The 8 Best Upper Body Stretches.
The goal is to build upper body strength and toned arms using a set of dumbbells to complete these five upper body exercises.
Each upper body exercise is designed to target a specific muscle group — back, biceps, chest, shoulders and triceps.
Medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells. I’m using a set of 10 lb dumbbells in this workout video, but if I were doing this upper body workout at home I would push for 15-20 lb dumbbells.
The goal is to complete this rep-drop workout using the same set of dumbbells the entire time. That said, you can always start with a heavier set of dumbbells and drop down to a lighter set of dumbbells as your upper body fatigues.
Follow along with the guided upper body workout for women on YouTube at the top of this post, led by personal trainer Lindsey Bomgren.
Or you can work off the five best upper body exercises below at your own pace. Note, this video does not include a warm up but here’s a great upper body warm up routine.
Your Workout Looks Like This:
1. Bicep Curls
2. Arnold Press
3. Lying Skull Crushers
4. Push Ups
5. Reverse Grip Bent Over Back Rows
Targets: The long (outer) and short (inner) heads of the bicep muscles (upper arms).
The best bicep exercises to make the bicep muscles pop.
Modification: If you feel yourself using momentum rather than your arm muscles to lift and lower the weights (using your body to swing the weights), use lighter weights or alternate arms rather than curling both arms at once.
Targets: All three heads of the deltoids, also known as your shoulder muscles.
The overhead press builds defined shoulders and improves posture.
Modification: If you feel yourself arching your back to press the dumbbells overhead, use lighter weights or alternate arms by first pressing dumbbell in the right overhead, and then the left hand.
Targets: The triceps or back of your arm.
Skull crushers tighten and tone the back of the arm.
Modification: If you only have heavy dumbbells, you can drop from two dumbbells down to one dumbbell to perform this exercise (holding the dumbbell horizontally with one head in each hand).
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs and core muscles.
Push ups are one of the most effective ways to strengthen your entire upper body using just your bodyweight.
Modification: Substitute incline push ups by placing your hands on a chair or bench; or drop to your knees for modified push ups.
Targets: Both the lower back and upper back, specifically the lats and rhomboids.
This compound exercise also strengthens the biceps as they are also engaged in the “pull” motion.
Modification: Perform this bilateral exercise as a unilateral exercise, by focusing the row on one side of the body. Use one dumbbell to perform a single arm row.