Are you looking to sculpt your upper body and build stronger back and arms? Do you want to achieve a toned and muscular physique that will make heads turn? If so, you've come to the right place. As a personal trainer, I've helped many clients achieve their fitness goals through effective training and nutrition strategies.
In this article, I'll share my top tips on building a strong upper body to improve your physical appearance and overall health and well-being. From targeting the right muscle groups to incorporating the right exercises and nutrition, I'll cover everything you need to know to sculpt the upper body of your dreams. So, let's get started and unleash your true potential!
Benefits of a Strong Upper Body
A strong upper body has many benefits for women, both physical and mental:
Exercises for a Strong Back
Now that we've covered the benefits of developing back and arm strength, it's time to dive into efficient exercises to get stronger back and arms.
Pull-ups are a classic exercise for building back strength. They target the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles. To perform a pull-up, grip a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from you and your hands shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your arms extended, then pull your body up towards the bar until your chin is above the bar. Lower your body back down to the starting position and repeat.
Now, you can perform a range of variations by changing your hand position. If you apply a narrower grip with your palms facing you, it's called a chin-up, and besides working your back muscles, your biceps will have to put an effort in as well.
If you can't perform pullups you can substitute for a pulldown or a variation like this!
#2. Bent Over Row
The Bent Over Row is another effective exercise for building a strong back and developing vertical strength. They target the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles. To perform a row:
Other horizontal pull exercises are the Inverted Row on a TRX, Olympic Rings, or a secured bar. You can also perform Cable Rows and Dumbbell Rows.
#3. Lat Pulldowns
The Lat Pulldown is a machine-based exercise that targets the latissimus dorsi muscles and is an excellent alternative to pull-ups to develop vertical pulling strength in the back, especially if you're unable to pull yourself up just yet.
To perform a lat pulldown, sit at a lat pulldown machine and grip the bar with your palms facing away from you and your hands shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar down towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body, then slowly release the bar back up to the starting position and repeat.
Exercises for Strong Arms
In addition to a strong back, strong arms are also crucial for everyday activities. Here are some of the best exercises for building strong arms.
#4. Bicep Curls
Bicep curls are a classic exercise for building strong biceps to assist in pulling movements. To perform a Standing Bicep Curl with Dumbbells, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your elbows close to your body, curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, then slowly lower them back down to the starting position and repeat.
Other bicep exercises include the Standing Cable Bicep Curl, Concentration Curl, Hammer Curl, TRX Bicep Curl, EZ Bar Curl, and the Curl Bench.
#5. Tricep Extensions
Tricep Extensions are an effective exercise for building strong triceps and are crucial for pushing movements like the Push-Up or Bench Press. To perform an Overhead Tricep Extension with Dumbbells:
Other tricep exercises include Tricep Cable Push Down, Dips, Tricep Dumbbell Kickback, and Lying Tricep Extensions.
Push-ups are a classic exercise for building strong arms and chest muscles. To perform a push-up, start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Lower your body down towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your body, then push your body back up to the starting position and repeat.
Creating Your Upper Body Workout Plan
Now that we've covered the exercises to help you develop a strong back and arms, it's time to create a workout plan.
For best results for the back, I recommend performing around 3 sets of 5-6 pulling exercises spread throughout the week with varying rep ranges ranging from 8-20. For arms, I recommend 3 sets of 3-4 exercises for triceps and another 3 sets of 3-4 exercises for biceps spread throughout the week.
Including a combination of horizontal and vertical pulling exercises and different variations for the biceps and triceps will help you stimulate those muscles differently while achieving the right level of fatigue for muscle growth. So, an example of upper body exercises for a 3-day-a-week plan would look like this:
Now, of course, your weekly workouts would include leg and chest work as well as some cardio to a varying degree, so looking at a more comprehensive template, your strength sessions can look something like this:
Remember to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight as you become stronger. Focusing on proper form and technique is essential to prevent injury and effectively target the intended muscle groups.
Incorporating Cardio and Rest Days
Cardio and rest days are essential for overall health and fitness. Cardio can improve endurance and performance in upper body workouts, while rest days are necessary for muscle recovery and growth. It's essential to incorporate both into your workout plan.
A sample cardio plan could include 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, such as jogging or cycling, on three non-consecutive days per week. Rest days should be included in your workout plan and taken every other day or as needed.
Nutrition for Building a Strong Upper Body
Nutrition is a crucial part of building a strong upper body. A protein-rich diet, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can provide the nutrients necessary for muscle growth and recovery. It's essential to stay hydrated and avoid processed foods and sugary drinks.
Some examples of foods that can support muscle growth include:
Building a strong upper body for women is achievable with the right exercises, workout plans, proper form and technique, cardio and rest days, and nutrition. You can achieve your dreams of a toned and muscular physique with dedication and consistency.