Most of our gym sessions are spent focusing on the areas we consider the most noticeable (think: butt, stomach, and legs). But hereâs a secret all top trainers know: a strong upper body is not only the key for an overall defined look, but it's your best defense against future injury and poor posture.
These four exercises are specifically designed to target the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and upper and lower back. Youâll strengthen your upper body and work on improving your posture, all while sculpting a gorgeous rear view.
Do 3 sets of each exercise, with 15 repetitions per set. Start with a pair of 5-10 pound dumbbells and then work your way up to a heavier weight as you feel stronger. Do this workout up to three times a week, alternating days for best results.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Shift your hips back as you lower your torso until your knees are in line with the heels. Turn your palms to face each other, bend your elbows, and lift arms out to the sides until the weights are shoulder height. Focus on using your back, not your arms, to raise the weights. Gently lower your arms back down, being sure to keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the entire movement.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and shift your hips back, lowering the torso until nearly parallel with the ground. Hold a weight in your right hand. For more balance, place your left hand on your left thigh or on a wall in front of you. Draw the weight up toward chest by bending your right elbow, and then slowly release, returning the arm down by your side. Make sure to keep your shoulder blades down and together and your core engaged the entire time to help support your lower lumbar spine. Do 15 reps on your right arm, then repeat on your left arm.
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Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a slight bend in knees as you shift your hips back and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Bring the weights together and turn your palms to face forward. Keeping your arms straight, lift the weights up to shoulder height, forming a âTâ shape, and then lower them back down with control. Make sure to keep the core and glutes engaged the entire time.
This one is great for working the latisimuss dorsi and rotator cuffs. To start, stand with your feet hip-width apart holding two dumbbells. Bring your weights up, so you have a 90-degree angle from your shoulders to your hands. Make sure to keep squeezing the elbows to your waist the entire time. Then, rotate your forearms out to your sides as far as you can before returning them back to the starting position.
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For more quick workout ideas, check out 5 Moves For Slim, Toned Thighs.
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CWâs Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBCâs Today Show, Extra, The Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer onÂ Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.