Today’s upper body workout will target your chest, shoulders and mid-back, without putting too much strain on your wrists. You can do these three moves back-to-back as a mini-workout, sprinkle them individually into your normal exercise routine, or add it to last week’s low impact leg workout for a full body strength series.
I used to hate upper body work. I couldn’t do a pushup to save my life and planks were the bane of my existence … naughty Pilates instructor.
But one day I grit my teeth and set my mind to getting stronger, and that’s when I began to see real changes.
O.K, so I’m by no means “jacked”.
And I don’t think that anyone will ever call me The Jenninator — which is probably a good thing, come to think of it — but I am satisfied and a little proud of myself to have gotten to where I am.
These days, if you’ll allow me to brag just a little, I can do full pushups, lift some fairly heavy weights, and rock out a 5 minute+ plank. That’s nothing to be sneezed at.
But it took time. A couple of years in fact. Which is a nice reminder that yes, slow and steady does win the race when it comes to fitness.
The three moves that I’m sharing with you today are the kind of low impact arm exercises that helped me build that strength. While they’re not overly complicated, they are surprisingly challenging, and are a perfect addition to your current routine no matter what level of fitness you are.
These are the kind of exercises that might not look like much, but after 10 reps…phew! Just remember:
Moving slowly, and maintaining excellent form, will get you stronger faster than smashing out dozens of reps incorrectly (which will just lead to injury).
Below the video I’ve added a few tips about each move, so be sure to read them before you get started.
Then I would love to hear from you, so please join in the discussion at the bottom of the page!
This is exercise is terrific and surprisingly challenging, especially if you do a lot of work that keeps your arms in front of your body (hello computer time, driving, ironing…).
The constant forward position that we adopt during our daily activities tightens the chest and weakens the mid back, which is why cactus glides should be a part of your daily routine.
- Keep your ribs pulled in and press the mid back (i.e. the section in between your shoulder blades and around the bra line) firmly against the wall.
- Your hands may not be able to touch the wall at the beginning. That’s ok and it gives you something to work towards.
- If you need a little elevation you can sit on a few cushions. This will help you lengthen your spine.
Spinal Balance Push Up
The primary focus here is on lengthening the spine and maintaining a neutral pelvis. To do this:
- Push the heel of the extended leg firmly in to the wall with all 5 toes pointing straight down.
- Both hip points are also pointing directly down to the ground.
- Lengthen the crown of the head away from the foot, maintaining a flat back.
- Firmly press into the hand that’s on the floor, and spiral the inner elbow forwards, keeping a little bend in that arm.
- To advance, lift the arm, without changing anything else in the body.
- To advance even more, bend both elbows, tucking them in towards the ribs, for a narrow pushup. The leg lifts in opposition so the spine shape has not changed, it has simply hinged.
Wall Push Ups (Clap)
These may not seem challenging at first, especially if you tend to do regular push ups, but it’s all about the technique.
- Maintain the long spine that you created in the previous exercise.
- The only thing moving is the bend and straighten of the elbow joint.
- As you power away from the wall and take that clap think about your abdominals doing the work, and draw the belly button in even more deeply.
- Need a little extra? Lift one leg a couple of inches, but don’t change the hip position.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
Is upper body training part of your current workout routine? What upper body exercise have you struggled the most with in the past? And what has been your favorite?
Let me know by leaving a comment below!