There was once a time when women were afraid to perform upper body toning exercises. Fortunately, most people now realize that the fear of developing "huge, unfeminine muscles" is unfounded. In fact, a well-developed upper body is actually considered attractive by modern standards.
Benefits of Upper Body Toning Exercises
By toning your upper body, you can improve your appearance, gain strength, raise your metabolic rate and prevent osteoporosis. Furthermore, a stronger upper body promotes functional movement. If your upper body musculature is strong, your lower body will not have to overcompensate. This can help prevent injuries to the lower back and knees.
A well-toned upper body is also esthetically pleasing. You can wear a sleeveless or a low-back dress and show off your beautifully-defined muscles. It can also make you look slimmer. Consider this. You buy outfits with shoulder pads so that your hips will look slimmer. Why not create natural shoulder pads by working your shoulders? By working your latissimus dorsi, which are the muscles that run down the side of your back, you can also make your waistline look smaller. Although chest exercises can't make your breasts bigger, they can add attractive cleavage and definition.
Working the rhomboids, which are the upper back muscles that pull your shoulder blades together, can help improve your posture. Since many people spend a good portion of the day hunched over their computers, working these upper back muscles counteracts the slouching posture. This not only makes you look better; it helps prevent upper back pain, neck pain and headaches.
Weight Training Toning Exercises
Weightlifting exercises are best for upper body toning. For optimum results, perform the exercises that work the larger muscle groups prior to performing exercises for the smaller muscles. For example, you should always work your chest, back and shoulders before you perform exercises for your biceps and triceps. When you work the muscles of your chest, or shoulders, your triceps assist the movement. Likewise, when you work your back, the biceps assist the muscle action. Since the biceps and triceps are much weaker than the muscles of the chest, back and shoulders, if you fatigue them prior to working the larger muscles, your form may be compromised.
Here are some examples of the best weight training exercises for the upper body.
- Back exercises
- Chest exercises
- Bicep exercises
- Triceps exercises
Resistance Band Upper Body Exercise
When you can't get to the gym, resistance bands and tubes are the next best thing to weight training. Rubber resistance tubes are versatile, affordable, portable and economical. You can purchase special attachments, which enable you to affix the band to a door jamb or a stable piece of furniture. This will allow you to perform exercises such as a standing or seated row and the chest fly. The special attachment is not needed for performing biceps and triceps exercises. You can simply place the band under your feet.
There are two types of rubber resistance bands. Therabands are wide and flat. Although they are a bit more versatile than tubing, they do have one small problem. Most Therabands do not come with handles. This can be a problem if you have a tendency towards carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, a number of companies make a special, removable Theraband handle.
Upper Body Toning with Kettlebells
In the past five years, kettlebells have become a popular method of upper body toning exercise. The technique was made popular by the Russian military. Kettlebells bear a close resemblance to a cannon ball with a handle. Although they are often used in bodybuilding, in recent years, many companies manufacture kettlebells that feature adjustable weights. This makes them an effective for upper body toning.
If you have not exercised for awhile, remember to check with your doctor before starting a program.