Beginner Upper Body Workout - Get Started on Your Upper Body

Description:  This upper body workout includes basic, easy-to-learn exercises that target the chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps.
Fitness Level:  Beginner, Beginner-Intermediate
Equipment Needed:  Various weighted dumbbells, resistance band
Time:  20-40 minutes

  1. See your doctor if you have any injuries or medical conditions
  2. Begin with a 5-minute warm up of light cardio or warm up versions of each exercise
  3. Beginners:  Perform each exercise for 1 set of 15 repetitions, using light-medium weights
  4. Beg/Int:  Perform 2-3 sets of 15 reps for each exercise, using enough weight that you can ONLY complete desired number of reps.  Rest about 30-45 seconds between sets
  5. Perform this workout 2-3 times a week, with at least one day of rest in between

Modified Pushups (Chest)

Modified Pushup
Paige Waehner

Place hands on the floor, wider than shoulders, and rest the knees on the floor (back should be flat).  Lower into pushup until elbows are about 90 degrees.  Easier versionIncline Pushup.  Another modification is to try a Wall Pushup if floor pushups are challenging.

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Chest Flies (Chest)

Chest Fly
Paige Waehner

Lie on a step, bench or floor and hold light-med weights over the chest (palms in).  Lower the arms down to chest-level, elbows slightly bent.

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Lat Pulls with Bands (Back)

One Arm Lat Pull with Bands
Paige Waehner

Sit or stand and hold a medium-heavy resistance band in both hands (the closer your hands are, the harder the exercise).  Keep tension on the band and squeeze either side of the back as you pull the elbows down towards the ribcage.

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Back Extensions (Back)

Back Extension
Paige Waehner

Lie down on a mat and place the hands on the floor next to the ears or behind the head (more advanced).  Keep the abs engaged as you squeeze the lower back to lift the chest a few inches off the floor.  Lower back down and repeat.

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Biceps Curls (Biceps)

Biceps Curl
Paige Waehner

Hold medium-heavy weights in front of thighs (palms out) and bend the elbows, bringing the weights towards the shoulders.  Slowly lower back down, without losing tension on the muscle.

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Bent Arm Lateral Raises (Shoulders)

Bent Arm Lateral Raise
Paige Waehner

Hold light-medium weights with arms bent to 90 degrees.  Lift the arms straight out to the sides keeping the elbows in a fixed position.  Lift only to shoulder level and lower.

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Overhead Presses (Shoulders)

Overhead Press
Paige Waehner

Sit or stand and bend the elbows like goal-posts, medium-heavy weights level with the ears. Press the weights up over the head. Lower and repeat.

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Triceps Kickbacks (Triceps)

One Arm Kickback
Paige Waehner

Hold a medium weight in right hand and tip forward until the torso is at a 45-degree angle or parallel to the floor.  Use the left hand on the thigh to support the lower back. Start with the right elbow at torso level and extend the arm out behind you squeezing the back of the arms.  Lower and repeat for all reps before switching sides.

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