Upper-body strength workout for women

Want a stronger top-half? Blitz every muscle in your upper body, from your upper back to your biceps, with this comprehensive upper-body strength workout for women from PT Jessica Bigwood.

Want to put a bit more power into your push-ups? There’s no doubt about it, there’s something very satisfying about building upper-body strength; something that goes beyond seeing sleek shoulders and toned triceps in the mirror. It’s the ease at which you can carry your children when there’s no-one around to help, or lug multiple shopping bags across the large car park, or perhaps do both things at the same time! Even if you just want to (finally!) get the lid off that pesky jam jar, you’re unlikely to regret training your upper-body muscles. And then there are the physiological pay-offs, too – stronger bones, a swifter metabolism, a healthier heart… this is certainly a workout you don’t want to miss off your training list.

But what muscles should you be working to ensure the entire upper body gets put to good use? Think: shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps, upper and middle back, rotator cuffs, forearms and core! Sounds a lot to remember? We’ve got you covered with this upper-body strength workout for women from PT Jessica Bigwood. It will hit all of your upper body muscles, using minimal kit. All you’ll need is a set of dumbbells, a box or a chair, and a bit of space. You can even do it at home. Ready? Let’s go!

Jessica Bigwood is a personal trainer who thrives on helping people create a healthier lifestyle.

Upper-body strength workout for women

1. Push-ups

Targets: chest, shoulders, triceps, core

Reps: Up to 10 (aim for 10 on your knees before trying full push-ups)

  • Start on all-fours, hands shoulder-width apart. Walk hands forward slightly until thighs are at 45 degree angle to the mat. Raise your feet. This is the start position (A).
  • Lower down slowly, ensuring you tuck your elbows in by drawing them back beside your body and not out to the sides.
  • Maintain your strong core position until your upper body is just o the ground (B), then press up to the start position.
  • For a harder variation, start in full plank, balancing only on hands and balls of feet. As you lower, don’t let your hips sag or allow your lower back to arch.

2. Dumbbell rows

Targets: upper back, biceps, forearms

Reps: 8-12

  • Pick up your dumbbells and stand with feet around shoulder-width apart, shoulders back and a slight archin your back.
  • Hinge over at the hips until the dumbbells are around knee height, keeping your legs locked with slightly soft knees. Keep your shoulders back and dumbbells close to your body. This is your start position (A).
  • Row the dumbbells up to the crease of your hips, ensuring you drive the elbows back and up, squeezing your shoulder blades together (B).
  • Hold this top position for a split second and then slowly lower down to the start position and repeat.

Try another upper body workout for women.

3. Triceps dips

Targets: triceps, chest, shoulders, core

Reps: 8-12

  • Using a sturdy chair or box, place your hands on the edge, around shoulder-width apart, with legs at 90 degrees; feet hip-with apart and flat on the floor.
  • Take your weight onto your hands, keeping your bum as close as possible to the chair or box. This is your start position (A).
  • Bend your arms, lowering your bum towards the ground and keeping close to the chair until your elbows are bent to around 90 degrees (B).
  • Be sure to keep your elbows in line; don’t let them flare out. Reverse the movement by pressing back up to the top position, then repeat the sequence. To make this harder, put a dumbbell in your lap.

4. Plank shoulder taps

Targets: core, shoulders, chest, lower back

Reps: 15-20

  • Begin in a high plank, hands and feet around shoulder-width apart to create a strong and sturdy base.
  • Ensure your core is engaged and don’t allow your hips to sag down. This is your start position (A).
  • Lift your left hand off the floor and touch the opposite (right) shoulder, making sure to minimise any twisting or shifting of your body position (B).
  • Lower the hand back to the ground and repeat with the right hand to the left shoulder (C).
  • Return to the original side and continue alternating.

5. Dumbbell reverse flys

Targets: rear shoulders, upper back, rotator cuff muscles

Reps: 15-20

  • Pick up your dumbbells and stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart. Hinge over at the hips, maintaining a flat/slightly arched back with your shoulder blades pulled back slightly.
  • Let your arms hang straight down with your palms facing forward. This is your start position (A).
  • ‘Fly’ your arms up to shoulder height, keeping thumbs facing back and squeezing shoulder blades together(B). Keep the tension in your upper-mid back.
  • Hold the top position, squeeze for a split second, then slowly lower down to the start position. Repeat.

6. Dumbbell biceps curls

Targets: biceps and forearms

Reps: 8-12

  • Pick up your dumbbells and stand up tall with your core engaged and a neutral spine. Your palms are facing back and resting against your legs. This is your start position (A).
  • Lift the dumbbells up, rotating your palms to face upwards as you do so, aiming not to rock or move your upper body (B).
  • Lift all the way up to around chest height, continuing to squeeze your biceps as you do so (C).
  • Slowly lower back down to the start point and repeat.

Jessica’s goal is to make her clients feel confident within the gym and within themselves. Follow her at instragram.com/jkbfitness_. Workout courtesy of Your Personal Training, the destination for aspiring personal trainers. Your Personal Training aims to help individuals find a fulfilling career in fitness, offering comprehensive courses, resources and support to individuals. Visit yourpersonaltraininguk.co.uk.

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