9 Fantastic Exercises for Toning Your Upper Body ...

By Lyndsie

If you're looking for exercises to tone upper body areas, I've got you covered. When you're working out, it's important to focus on every area, but your upper body is particularly important. That way, you get toned and sculpted arms, a strong back, a toned torso, and even firmer breasts. Brilliant, right? Fortunately, there are lots of fantastic exercises to tone upper body areas, many of which are actually quite fun. Take a look!

1 Propped up Push-Ups

Propped up push-ups are among my favorite exercises to tone upper body areas. They're easier than traditional push-ups, yet you can get an even better workout, especially for your chest and back, your shoulders, your abs, and your triceps. Get down on all fours, keeping your knees under your hips and your back straight and flat. You'll need a medicine or exercise ball, although I've seen people use low chairs and benches as well. Press your palms into the ball (or whatever you choose), which should be located right below your chest. Once you're steady, extend your legs straight out behind you and balance yourself on the tips of your toes. Keep your feet a little more than shoulder width apart, maybe two feet. Follow through with a traditional push-up motion by bending your elbows, so your chest drops down to the ball, then push up again. Try doing this 8 times to start.

2 Chest Presses

Chest presses are easy and effective. Begin by lying back on the floor or a yoga mat – and have your weights with you. With a weight in each hand, bring them down even with your chest, then lift your arms straight in the air. Make sure your elbows aren't locked, however. Since this exercise is relatively simple, start out with 10 reps and try to work up from there.

3 Shoulder Presses

Shoulder presses are great because they're versatile. You can either stand up or sit down to do them. Whatever position you prefer, start with your weights positioned at your shoulders, but keep them parted a little wider. Push them up toward the ceiling until you feel your elbows start to lock. Since your back needs to remain flat, make sure the press remains in front of you. Your abs should remain contracted as well.

4 Lateral Pull-Downs

As the name implies, this maneuver does great things for your lats. You'll need a bar, it should be pretty wide so you have a good grip. Moving slowly and steadily, pull it down toward your chest, then just as slowly lift your arms back up. During this exercise, your back needs to remain flat and your abs should be contracted. Again, 10 reps make a great start but you should be able to increase pretty easily.

5 Arm Rows

Various types of arm rows are understandably excellent for your upper body. Using your weights, try a bent-over row. Start with a weight in each of your hands, bend low at the hips, and let your arms hang down. At the same time, make sure your knees are relaxed and your back is straight and flat. Bring your elbows up toward the ceiling in a rowing motion, making sure that your shoulder blades are squeezed together and down, but don't shrug. Then lower your arms into your previous position. You can do this while standing upright as well, by bringing your weights up and in toward your breasts.

6 Smash-Downs

For a great exercise that targets your abs, your back, your upper arms, and your shoulders, try smash-downs. Stand up and place your feet at shoulder width. You'll need an exercise or medicine ball, which you'll hold in both hands. Place it right in front of your thighs and make sure you're engaging your abs. Make sure your shoulders are down as well, then swing your ball upwards and a bit behind your head. At the same time, lift up on the tips of your toes. Hold that position for a 5-count, then resume your starting position. Repeat the motion 10-15 times in the beginning, then try to work your way up to 20-25 reps.

7 Yoga

Yoga in general is an excellent way to tone your entire body. It aids in flexibility but it makes your muscles taut and sculpted as well. However, certain poses are particularly great for your upper body. Both Downward Facing Dog and Three-Legged Dog work your arms and your back, Crow is good for your triceps and your forearms, and Wheel does great things for your spine, your back as a whole, and your upper arms.

8 Chair Dips

Chair dips are incredibly easy to do, and they're excellent for toning the backs of your arms, which is a problem area for many women. Get yourself a steady, solid chair or even a bench and sit down right on the edge of it. Place your hands down by your thighs and grip the edge of your chair as well. Moving steadily, slide off your chair but keep your feet flat on the floor and make sure your knees are at right angles. Slowly let your hips drop down toward the ground, stopping only when your upper arms run parallel with the floor. Hold that position for a 5-count, then push yourself back into your original position, using only your hands. Repeat this move 5-10 times.

9 Plank-Ups

Need to work on your triceps, your shoulders, your chest, and your core as a whole? Plank-ups are perfect. If you already know how to plank, this exercise will be a breeze. Get face down, preferably using a yoga mat, and keep yourself supported using the very balls of your feet and your forearms. Your legs need to be straight out behind you, your back should be flat, and you should brace your abs. Once you're settled, “walk” and shift yourself up onto your hands, one at a time. You should end up looking like you're ready to do push-ups. After reaching that position, shift back down so you're once more braced on your forearms. Start out slow and repeat this move 4-5 times, but over time, you should easily be able to do 10.

Toning your upper body isn't hard at all, and the rewards are amazing. Work these exercises into your weekly regimen and you'll soon have a taut, toned upper body. The best part is that you can decide whether you want to enter your arms in the next gun show or if you simply want to firm up some problem areas. What are your favorite ways to tone your upper half?

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