Tips for Building Upper Body Muscle
A strong upper body is needed for performing simple daily tasks. When you improve the amount of muscle mass you have, your cardiovascular and respiratory systems also benefit, as does your mobility, range of motion and brain function. Use the following 5 tips to easily and quickly build upper body strength and lean, sexy muscle mass.
Add Hand Weights to Your Walking Program
This is one of the simplest ways to improve your upper body strength, and help define your upper body muscles. Add a light set of dumbbells to your walking sessions. There are hand weights and weighted gloves that are specifically designed to use while you are walking/running. You can perform a number of arm movements while you walk to help build upper body strength.
The Counter Push
If you ever have an extra 60 seconds, you can get a good upper body workout in your kitchen, bathroom or office. Stand about 2 feet away from your kitchen or bathroom counter, or office desk if it is sturdy and stable. Lean forward, supporting yourself by grabbing the edge of the counter with your fingers on top.
Spread your hands just wider than your shoulders, and lean forward slowly. Touch your chest on your counter, pause for one second, and then push back to the starting position. It is easy to get 20 to 30 repetitions in just 60 seconds, meaning there are no more excuses for not building your upper body strength.
Controlled Descent Push-ups
Push-ups are outstanding for building muscles in your chest, arms and back. Performed in a particular way, you get more out of your workout, maximizing your strength building results. Start at the top of the standard push-up formation.
This time, instead of dropping quickly to the bottom, lower yourself as slowly as possible. This is more difficult than a traditional push-up, so it may take you some time to get used to this technique. However, it increases the stress on your muscles, building your upper body strength quicker than with classic push-up technique.
This works like a classic chin-up. Grab a chin-up bar, with your palms facing you. Pull up to the top, and then begin lowering as you would with a traditional chin-up. However, this time you want to lower yourself as slowly as possible. Like the controlled descent push-ups, this maxes the resistance on your upper body muscles.
Varied Dumbbell Curls
A University of Wisconsin study showed that when you vary your dumbbell curl form, you activate more muscle fibers in your upper body. Change your technique during your bicep curls work out. Raise the dumbbell with your palm facing behind you, facing in front of you, and facing the side of your body.
Move straight from the top of a dumbbell curl into an overhead press. Rotate the dumbbell through a circular motion as you raise it. All of these moves well help you maximize your upper body strength, without you having to do any additional repetitions or sets.
Lunges: A Must Have Exercise
Lunges. They might seem like an exercise maneuver invented by young, zealous fitness trainers to assail your legs and torture your buns. This may cause you to feel intimidated by lunges, or think they are too extreme an exercise for you to implement into your workout plans and health goals.
However, lunges are a great component of any workout, no matter your age or fitness level, and have a myriad of benefits for your physical health, balance and flexibility.
What Are Lunges?
A lunge is an exercise that leverages your body weight to build strength in your legs, thighs, and buttocks.
To do a basic lunge, follow these steps:
• Stand on a hard floor with your feet shoulder-width apart, and relax your shoulders and place your hands on your hips
• Keeping your neck long, and head up, step forward 2-3 feet with one of your feet and plant that foot
• Bend both knees slightly, and in a smooth, controlled motion, bring your back knee down toward the floor by shifting your weight to your front leg
• Push back on your front heel to return upright
• Switch legs and repeat
How Lunges Benefit You, No Matter Your Age
Lunges are very effective for shaping, strengthening, and slimming your thighs, legs and buns but they also have some amazing benefits that will help with your overall health.
Lunges promote better balance by conditioning your legs in a unilateral format. By working on each leg’s strength individually, you increase your balance and better your coordination. When done correctly, and regularly, lunges can effectively stabilize your balance and give you more strength all in one simple exercise.
Many people struggle with tightness in their hip flexors due to spending so much time during the day sitting and sedentary. Lunges are a great way to start opening up your hip flexors, and give you better range of motion and movement in your hips, back and legs.
Lunges, particularly those done while holding dumbbell weights at your sides, help to deload your spine by taking pressure and weight from it, providing brief rest and relief. If you’ve been doing other exercises, or incorporating lifting weights into your workouts, this loads your spine. While this isn’t necessarily a negative thing, adding lunges in gives you a workout for your legs that gives your spine a bit of a rest.
Lunges are an exercise that can help you increase functionality in your everyday life. Taken to its simplest form, doing a lunge simulates walking, but with very large, controlled, strength building steps. Lunges also teach your muscles to work together to improve performance in tasks you perform every day, think about the form you take when tying your shoelaces, that is a lunge.
During a lunge, you focus on working out one leg at a time. By doing the same number of reps on each side, with good form and control, you can help build up strength on each side of your body individually. This will help even out your body strength and symmetry, and increase function if one side tends to be a bit weaker than the other.
Lunges are great for improving your core strength as well. When you use the proper form, you keep your torso and upper body upright and engage your ab muscles to keep yourself stable as you dip into, and rise up from a lunge. A strong core helps protect your back and spine from injury by supporting them with additional muscle strength.
Lunges are not too extreme an exercise no matter your age or fitness level. In fact, they can help you gain strength, flexibility, and balance that will contribute to your health and life overall, and should be a part of your workout routine if they are not already.
Stop Making Excuses and Get to Exercising
Everyone knows that exercise is a vital aspect of creating a healthy lifestyle, but for some making the time to actually work out seems like an impossible task. Fortunately, starting up and sticking to an exercise routine is much easier than it seems. The first step is to identify the excuses that are holding you back, as this allows you to create an accurate assessment of your situation and then start tearing down the walls blocking your progress.
Read on to learn about some specific tactics to help you beat even the insurmountable excuses.
Set a Realistic Goal
One of the most common excuses people use to keep themselves from starting an exercise routine is that it’s too hard to achieve their goals. For some, it might be losing a set amount of weight in time for an important event like a wedding, while others might want to run a marathon with family members.
The issue here is not that the goals are impossible, but that they are too big to reach right away. When you set unrealistic goals, you create an environment where success is impossible. Start out with smaller goals that you can achieve more quickly in order to create a positive reward system. For example, instead of trying to lose 20 pounds in a week, try to lose 1 pound.
Build a Custom Routine
Another frequent excuse to not exercise is that the moves are too difficult or too complicated. To combat this, create a customized workout routine that matches your current fitness and skill levels. This ensures that you’re focusing on moves that you can actually perform. Many people new to exercising can also get intimidated by all the equipment at the gym, so try focusing on body weight moves like pushups and sit-ups to remove the machines from the equation completely.
By tailoring the moves to match your abilities and availability, you are removing unnecessary hurdles and focusing your efforts on actions that are more realistic and achievable. The key is to be active in whatever way works for you and your body, not forcing yourself to meet someone else’s expectations and style.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
If you feel like you don’t have enough time to work out, the problem may be that you’re actually trying to do too much at once. Something as small as five minutes of light cardio a day can have a profound effect on your health.
Exercising doesn’t have to be hours long or include any specific types of moves in order to work. Find any free time you have in your day, no matter how small, and do any kind of workouts you can. Even if it’s only a couple of minutes once a week, it allows you to create a baseline and build up from there over time.
Stop Being Hard on Yourself
The longer it takes to start working out or the longer it takes to see any results, the worse you tend to feel about yourself. Many people start to make excuses to cover up these feelings of failure. It might be that you’re too old, too overweight or too out of shape to start working out, when in reality these excuses are just attempts to hide from the truth.
The fact of the matter is that working out is supposed to be hard, especially when you’re new to it. By admitting that starting to exercise is difficult, you are removing the unrealistic expectation that you are supposed to be good right away or else you are not doing it right.
Understand that hard work and change is a slow and steady process, and that the more you work out the better you will get at it.