Your Upper-Body Shape-Up Plan (For Men and Women!)

Throughout the day, most people walk, climb stairs and squat down to pick things up—activities that naturally work your legs and lower body. But how often do you exercise your upper body? Having a strong back, chest, shoulders and arms are key to being able to do things like carry groceries, hoist your suitcase into the carry-on space on an airplane and even open sealed-tight jars. And if your upper body strength decreases are you age, which it does for many people, you could suffer from a poorer quality of life and be likelier to get injured. Here are five easy exercises everyone should do to keep their upper body and back strong and healthy:

  1. Windshield Wipers: Stand with feet wide and pointing slightly out, knees slightly bent, with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward slightly from hips and hold the weights up in front of your chest with your elbows bent and palms facing your body. Lower the weights down towards the floor, then raise them straight out to your sides (have your palms face behind you), then bring them back to the starting position. Repeat this move 12 times and do two to three sets.
  2. Reverse Fly: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend knees slightly and bend forward at hips until your chest is facing the floor. Straighten arms toward the floor with your palms facing each other, then squeeze your shoulder blades together and bring the weights up and out to your sides. Return to starting position, doing 12 reps and two to three sets.
  3. Classic Push-up: Just because this move is simple doesn’t make it any less effective. Keep your torso straight and your core engaged (meaning clench your ab muscles) the entire time. If it’s too hard on your toes, try it on your knees. And if it’s too easy on your toes, try a ball push-up, where you put your feet on the top of a stability ball before performing the move. No matter which option you go with, do 15 reps and two to three sets.
  4. Bicep Curls: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing forward. Bend your right elbow and bring your right fist up towards your right shoulder. Repeat 15 times on that side, then 15 with your left side. Do two to three sets.
  5. Triceps Dip: Sit on a sturdy chair or bench with your hands next to you on the edge of the seat and your legs extended out in front. Slide off the chair so that your weight is on your hands and straighten your arms. Bend your elbows and slowly lower yourself down until your arms form a 90-degree angle. Push back down with your hands to straighten your arms again. Repeat 15 times and do two to three sets.

And for even more exercises involving your upper body and back, check out these blogs:

Photo credit: Slava

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