9 Upper Body Exercises

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photo courtesy of pixabay.com

photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Warm Up with These Upper Body Exercises

by Stephanie Nickel

Last time we touched on some lower body exercises you can do virtually anywhere. You can combine those exercises with the following to work your whole body every other day or you can do the upper body workout one day and the lower body workout the next.

(Next time, I will share a few exercises to work the core.)

Exhale while doing the hard part of the exercise. Inhale while returning to the start position of each exercise. When standing to perform an exercise, start by bringing your body into proper alignment (good posture.) Roll your shoulders up back, and down; tighten your abdominal muscles; tilt your pelvis slightly forward; and keep your knees soft (slightly bent). Always perform the exercises in a slow and controlled way.

Remember to check with your healthcare provider before beginning or changing your exercise routine.


Equipment: comfortable clothes, free weights, stability ball

One-Armed Row

Step up with one foot, approximately the height of two steps. Hinge forward from the waist while keeping your back flat and holding a weight in the opposite hand. (I suggest a 10-15 lb. weight.) Keep both knees soft (slightly bent). Tighten your obliques and the muscles of your lower back on that side. Draw your elbow up, keeping your arm close to your side. Return to the start position. Repeat 12-18 times on each side.

Chest Press

Sit on a stability ball, a weight in each hand. (I suggest 10-pound weights.) Carefully walk out and roll down until your head and shoulders are resting on the ball. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and your bottom lifted. Exhale and press the weights straight up at chest level. Inhale and return to the starting position, not letting your elbows drop below the level of your upper back. Repeat 12 times.

Double Shoulder Raise

Bring your body into alignment while holding a weight (no more than 5 lbs.) in each hand. Exhale and bring straight arms out to the side, no higher than shoulder height. Inhale and return to the start position. Exhale again and bring the weights straight out in front of you, again, no higher than shoulder height. Inhale and return to start position. Repeat this sequence no more than 12 times. Consciously relax your shoulder and neck muscles, especially if you find they are tightening and your shoulders are creeping up. (This is one good reason to exercise in front of a mirror.)

Shoulder Press

Bring your body into alignment while holding a weight in each hand. (I suggest 5-10-pound weights.) Bring your arms up like football goalposts. Exhale and press the weights overhead. Inhale and return to the start/goalpost position. Repeat 12 times. (I suggest doing the Double Shoulder Raise sequence only 6 times if you’re going to do this exercise as well.)

Bicep Curl

Bring your body into alignment while holding a weight in each hand. (I suggest from 5-15-pound weights.) With palms facing forward, exhale and bring the weights all the way up. Inhale and return to the starting position, making sure to fully extend the arms without locking the elbows. Repeat 12-18 times.

Reverse Curl

Follow the steps for performing bicep curls with palms facing backward. (I suggest using slightly lighter weights than you did for the Bicep Curls.)

Triceps Kickback

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight in each hand. (I suggest 5-pound weights.) Hinge slightly forward from the waist, keeping the back flat. Draw your elbows up, keeping your arms close to your sides. Keep elbows lifted while exhaling and straightening your arms and then inhaling and again, bending the elbows. Repeat 12-18 times.

Overhead Extension

Bring your body into alignment while holding a weight with both hands. (I suggest a 10-pound weight.) Extend both arms straight overhead. Keeping your arms next to your head, inhale and carefully lower the weight behind you. Exhale and straighten your arms overhead without locking your elbows. Repeat 12 times.

Prone Overhead Press

Lie facedown on a stability ball with a small weight in each hand. (I suggest no more than 3 lbs. each.) Prop your feet against the wall and keep your body in a straight line. Exhale and lift the weights to your shoulders and press straight overhead (which will be almost parallel to the floor). Inhale and bring the weights back to your shoulders. (Think of this as a Prone Shoulder Press.) Repeat no more than 12 times, less if your neck starts to tighten.


9 upper body exercises to keep moving and keep warm. (tweet this)

Check out these other articles by Stephanie

5 Wild and Crazy Activities to Try

10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk

6 Ways to Intensify your Workout


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Stephanie Nickel


Steph Beth Nickel is an author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

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1 thought on “9 Upper Body Exercises

  1. Pingback: 7 Exercises to Work Smaller Muscles by Stephanie Nickel | Kimberley J. Payne

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