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April 30, 2014 | Fitnovatives Blog

6 Upper-body Exercises to Sculpt Sexy Arms for Summer

Build strength and boost confidence as you sport t-shirts, tank tops and other fashions this spring by incorporating these six upper-body exercises into your workout routine.

Dumbbell Clean and Press

Dumbbell Clean and Press

Dumbbell Clean and Press

Hold dumbbells at your sides with the palms facing one another and lower to a squat position, hinging at the hips. Keep your core engaged and rise up to a standing position, pushing the hips forward and pulling the dumbbells up to shoulder height so that the upper arms are parallel to the floor with the elbows pointed in front of you and palms facing in. Slightly bend your knees and, as you exhale, press the dumbbells overhead with elbows pointed to approximately 1 o'clock and 11 o'clock. Inhale and reverse the movement, returning to your starting position.

Renegade Rows

Renegade Row

With a dumbbell in each hand, assume a high plank position with wrists positioned below the shoulders. Keep the core engaged and the wrists in a neutral position as you draw the right hand toward the right side of the ribcage, keeping the elbow pointing back and the arm close to the body. Keep the hips and shoulders as squared to the floor as possible throughout the movement  and slowly return the weight to the floor and repeat on the opposite side.

Cable Cross Punch

Cable Cross Punch

Stand with your left arm closest to the cable column, with the handle positioned at approximately chest height. With the handle in your left hand and left elbow bent, begin in a sumo squat position, with the feet just wider than hip-width distance apart and toes angled slightly out. With control, perform a punch, crossing the left arm in front of the body while keeping the core engaged as you pivot on the feet so that your knees and toes now face the right side of the room. Slowly recoil back to your starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions before switching to the opposite side.

Triangle Push-ups

Triangle push-up

Assume a kneeling position and place your hands on the floor with your thumbs and forefingers touching to create a triangle shape directly below your chest. Come to a high plank position, either with your legs bent and your knees on the mat or with your toes tucked under. Keep your core engaged as you slowly bend your elbows, keeping them close to body, allowing them to flare out only slightly as you lower your chest toward the floor. Push through your palms and slowly press back up to your starting position with the arms fully extended.

Assisted Pull-Ups

Assisted Pull-ups

Start by first wrapping a resistance band over the top of a pull-up bar, threading the band through so that it is securely fixed to the bar. Step one foot to rest on top of the band, crossing the other leg over top; position your hands on the bar just slightly wider than shoulder-width-distance apart, with the palms facing away from the body. Without utilizing momentum, pull yourself up until the bar is nearly level with your collarbone. With control, slowly lower back down to your starting position and repeat.




Begin in a high plank position with palms and toes on the ground. Keep the core engaged as you lower first your right and then your left elbow to the mat to assume a forearm plank position. Return back to your starting high plank position by pressing your right palm into the mat and then your left palm, keeping hips and shoulders squared to the mat. Repeat this sequence leading with the left arm and continue to alternate sides.

By Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYT

Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12.

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