How to Tone Your Upper Body

We’re back with Jonathan at SomaFit learning about how tone and work your upper body. The upper body is critical for balance, lifting, and other important functions.

Dumbell Row

To start, you’ll do what is called a bent-over dumbbell row. An actual dumbbell and a bench are obviously the best accessories but in fact you can use other heavy objects in place of a dumbbell. Jonathan recommends the dumbbell because it’s well-balanced and the weight you use is adjustable.

Place your left hand on the bench and pick up the dumbbell with your right hand. Now move it down, letting the weight carry it, just as if you were going to drop it on the floor. Keep your hand aligned with your shoulder while doing this exercise. As you bring the dumbbell up, you want to exhale: always exhale when you’re doing something strenuous. Inhale as you drop the weight back down, and exhale as you bring it up again. Make sure that you’re keeping your back flat and your abdominals are what he calls “engaged”—keep them tight, in other words. Do this for 15 reps, and then switch to the other side.

Bicep Curl

After you’ve done your sets of rows, you’re ready for the bicep curl. You just worked a big muscle group in the back, so now you want to engage with a small muscle in the front. This provides additional balance to your workout. Besides that, your biceps help your back lat muscles.

Next he wants you to use a resistance or Dyna-band. You can easily purchase one online. What you want to do is step on the band with both feet. Spread your felt hip-wide apart and make sure they’re parallel to each other. Pull your arms to your shoulders on the exhale. Try and make sure that your alignment is as straight as possible.

Chest press

Next you’re going to do a chest press. For this exercise you really need the machine. Sitting upright on the bench, your hands slightly lower than your shoulders, and you can start with 55 pounds of weight. Maintain your alignment throughout your body but paying special attention to your spine. As you exhale, extend your arms with your elbows always a little bit bent because you don’t want to hyper-extend and injure your arms. Always maintain your knees and your elbows slightly bent no matter what exercise you’re doing.

Tricep curl

For your final exercise, go back to the bench. Your feet don’t need to be very wide as you pull your elbow up and exhale as you raise it. And make sure that you stop when your elbow gets to your back. Again, you don’t want to do any hyperextension! So remember to breathe in as you let your arm down and exhale or breathe out as you raise it. Always exhale on the part of the exercise that’s the hardest. Do 15 reps with each arm, flexing your elbow, and really giving your triceps a workout.  It’s important to work both sides of your body evenly so you keep a nice balance.

“Wow!” he says, “Your triceps are really burning!”