5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women

Build upper body strength and toned arms with this 30-Minute Upper Body Workout for Women. The workout consists of 5 arm exercises, targeting back, biceps, shoulders, triceps, and chest.

If you’re having trouble seeing the above video, try pausing or turning off your ad blocker. If you prefer, you can also view these 5 Best Upper Body Exercises on Youtube here

Truth be told, I favor lower body workouts over upper body workouts. Which is why having a workout plan going into each week is essential for me. Otherwise I’ll over-train my lower body.

Splitting up muscle groups is important when strength training. The goal is to exhaust and breakdown muscle tissue to build strength. Therefore, you need to train a muscle group, and then let that muscle group rest and recover.

My ideal weekly workout routine would look like this:

  • Monday – Lower Body Strength + HIIT/Plyo Workout
  • Tuesday – Upper Body Strength + Cardio/Run if time allows
  • Wednesday – Barre / Yoga
  • Thursday – Lower Body Strength + HIIT
  • Friday – Upper Body Strength + Core or Barre / Yoga {pending on how I’m feeling based on the intensity of my workouts that week}
  • Saturday – Total Body Workout
  • Sunday – Rest + Stretch

But due to my group fitness teaching schedule, the above rarely happens. I usually only get one upper body and lower body split training day in, and fill in the other days with various total body workouts.

5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women | Arm Workout | Toned Arms | At Home Workout

I just have to insert here, that I’m so stinking pumped about the new NML website. I hope you’re loving the new category pages as much as I am. Allowing you to search workouts by length, equipment, and more!

Back to this 30-minute upper body workout for women. It’s nothing fancy, but these five exercises — bicep curl, Arnold press, skull crushers, push ups, and bent over row — should be staples in every upper body strength training routine.

I love this rep-drop format, and encourage you to go heavy in weights. If you’re working out at home, I love these PowerBlock Dumbbells, which adjust from 5-50 lbs. 

The Workout: 5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women

Upper Body Workout for Women | Toned Arms

This arm workout follows a repetition drop format. Reps decrease but weight, ideally, stays the same {or increases if you can}. Use a medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells. I am pictured using 10 lb dumbbells in this workout, but if I were doing this at home I would push for 15-20 lb dumbbells. 

Perform 12 reps per exercise, then 10 reps, then 8 reps, and so on until you reach 4 reps per exercise. So you’ll complete 5 sets total, dropping reps with each set.

Option to add 1 minute of the jab, cross, jump, bonus move at the end of each set {30 seconds per side}. 

12-10-8-6-4 Reps:

  1. Bicep Curls
  2. Arnold Press
  3. Lying Skull Crushers
  4. Push Ups
  5. Reverse Grip Bent Over Row

Bonus Move: Jab, Cross, Jump

After each set complete 1 minute of the bonus move {30 seconds per side}. This will increase heart rate. 

See the workout video above for a demonstration of each exercise.

Bicep Curls

Keep your elbows off and slightly in front of your body to maximize bicep engagement. Go slow and controlled on the eccentric part of the curl {the way down}. Muscle building actually happens on the way down in the bicep curl.

Bicep Curl | Upper Body Workout for Women | Toned Arms

Arnold Press

Sculpt all heads of the shoulder muscle by starting with the weights in front of your face. Keep a slight bend in your knees, but be sure to engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you press the weights overhead, protecting your low back.

Arnold Press | Upper Body Workout for Women | Toned Arms

Lying Skull Crushers

Keep your elbows in line with your forearms, not allowing them to fall out, away from your body. Slowly lower the weights toward your face, again muscle building happens in the eccentric motion {way down} of this exercise as well.

Lying Skull Crushers | Best Upper Body Exercises for Women | Toned Arms

Push Ups

Lead with your chest, dropping toward the ground in a straight line from head to heel. As you lower your elbows should fall behind you towards your hips {not out to the side}. For push up modifications, see this post.

Push Up | Upper Body Exercises for Women | Toned Arms

Reverse Grip Bent Over Row

Hinge forward at the hips with palms face out, away from the body. This grip change works a slightly different part of the back. Pull elbows up toward the sky and back towards your hips, as if putting on your pants in the morning.

Hold at the top of the moment, pinching your shoulder blades together. Then slowly lower the weights to the starting position, trying not to let them ‘drop’ down. Keeping your belly pulled tightly back towards your spine throughout the entire movement.

Reverse Grip Bent Over Row | Upper Body Strength Exercises | Toned Arms

Bonus Move: Jab, Cross, 180 Jump

*After each set complete 1 minute of the bonus move {30 seconds per side}

Jab, Cross, 180 Jump | Upper Body Workout for Women | Toned Arms

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5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women | Arm Workout | Toned Arms

30 Minute Toned Arms Workout | 5 Best Upper Body Exercises for Women | Arm Workout | Upper Body Workout

This post does include an affiliate link to these PowerBlock Dumbbells. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Nourish Move Love, making the content you see on this blog possible. 

5 comments
  1. Hi, love this…can you make a 5 best lower body with same format as well as 5 best core. This is so simplistic and easy to follow. Question; do you perform exercise 1 for 12,10,8,6,4 count back to back then move to exercise 2 or is this done more in circuit style 12 of each then 10 of each, etc