Workout of the Month: Upper Body Strengthener
Have you ever said, “I have no upper body strength!”? This is something I hear people, especially women, say all the time. And, I always remind them, to have a strong upper body, you have to work to strengthen your upper body! Sounds simple, but unfortunately spending more time than ever in the car or at a desk, our back, arms, and even our core muscles tend to clock out during the day. While our legs also don’t get much work, but if you’re walking or biking, or even standing for part of the day, they are forced to support you more so than your upper body. Try this 10-minute upper body and core strengthening workout for a few weeks to build better posture and strengthen the muscles of your back, arms, and core.
This position is one of the most effective for strengthening the core muscles. Set yourself up with your hands under your shoulders, and work to create a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Make sure not to “sink” down into your shoulders, and think about pressing the ground away from you, but without lifting your hips. Take deep breaths, working to draw your abdominals in with every exhale. Hold for 45-seconds.
Modifications: If you’re new to the plank, you can modify this move by placing the knees on the ground. If you have any wrist issues or pain, you can also drop down to your forearms.
2. Starfish Superman
Move down onto your stomach. Even though your stomach will remain on the floor, you still want to imagine drawing your abdominals in, just like you did in your plank. Reach the arms over your head, and open the legs slightly, making a starfish shape with your body. On an exhale, lift your arms, head, chest, and legs off of the floor. This is your starting position. Inhale to hold, then exhale to pull the arms down, and squeeze the legs together, as shown in figure 2a. Repeat this 15 times.
3. Push-up on Knees
Return to your plank position (Figure 1). Then, place your knees down on the floor (or a mat or towel, if that’s more comfortable) and pull your heels up towards your hips. Place your hands on the ground so they are positioned wider than your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line, just like your plank. Maintaining your plank form, inhale as you bend your elbows and lower into your push-up, and exhale to press yourself up. Repeat 10 times.
4. Push-up with Row
After exercise #3, rest for a minute, and then return to your push-up position on your knees. Inhale to bend your elbows and lower into your push-up, and this time, as you exhale, straighten the arms to press up, and then pull the right arm back, opening the chest on your right side. Inhale to return the hand to the floor and bend the elbows into your push-up. Repeat on the left side. Repeat at total of 10 times (5 times on each arm).
5. Tricep Pushup
Making a triangle with your index and thumb fingers (shown in figure 5), place your hands flat on the floor, maintaining that shape. Walk your feet back until the rest of your body is in a plank position (like figure 1), or to modify, place your knees on the floor, like you did in your push-up position in figure 3. Maintaining a straight spine, and drawing the abdominals up and in, inhale and bend the elbows out to the side, then exhale and press yourself back up. This one is hard, so take it slow, and with each repetition, test your range of motion. Repeat 10 times.
After you try these exercises, make sure to let us know how you did in the comments below! Or, share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.