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Tips for Achieving Better Upper Body strength by Justina Triasovaite

Hello, dears!

Today I´m pleased to introduce you a new blogger and friend, Justina Triasovaite. She is a certified female personal trainer and also runs justinatraining.com, a site with useful information for those who are interested in general fitness and body transformation. A committed health and fitness fanatic, Justina is very passionate about helping people transform their lives.

London based, she´s offering first class free with each package! If you live in London, you shouldn´t miss this opportunity.

Without further delay, I let you read her refreshing tips. Enjoy!

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This article will reveal what it takes to build up strength in your upper body, including your shoulders, arms, chest, back, and core.

No matter where you choose to train – at the gym, in the park or in your own home, there are a lot of useful tips provided in this article that can be beneficial for building your upper body strength.

Ok, let’s get started!

Home and/or Park: A Great Start!

Have you ever thought of improving your upper body strength right in your own home, right in your terrace or garden, for example? There are different ways of getting stronger and it doesn’t necessarily require you to go out to the gym – just get started right at home or in any suitable park. In my opinion, the best place to train during spring-summer months would be outside – in a park or in your own home, maybe in the garden area. Fewer excuses and more exercise!

1) Best Exercises for Getting Stronger Upper Body at Home or Park 

  • PRESS UPS

Press ups involve the majority of upper body muscles, which is great if you are trying to strengthen your upper body. What is more, these exercises improve your posture, enhance your cardiovascular system and help to prevent lower back injuries. Press ups do not require any additional equipment so you can do it right in the middle of your living room or terrace.

  • DIPS

Dips are isolation exercises that work miracles for strengthening your arms and gaining powerful and defined triceps. They can be performed at the gym on a special machine or simply at home using a chair or a bed frame. Although I think it is much more fun to do your dips outside – just find the right spot (e.g. a bench). Try this out today!

  • PULL UPS

Pull up exercises are compound movements which add strength to the whole back and arms. Nobody says they’re easy, but what you gain is most definitely worth it: by doing pull ups, several large muscle groups (back, arms and shoulders) work simultaneously. What I love about these exercises the most is that they don’t require expensive equipment – you can order a pull-up bar online and hang it above your door frame. Time to get thinking about this.

  • RESISTANCE BANDS

Resistance bands are amazing tools for working out at home with your own body weight with a goal of strengthening various muscle groups in your body, including your upper body. Most of these bands come with a special hook which allows using them on your door without damaging it. It should also come with thorough instruction regarding all of the exercises you can perform using these bands. Easy and fun!

2. Best Exercises for Getting Stronger Upper Body at the Gym

Say hello to the rowing machine as soon as you enter the gym, as this is the best exercise you can do to strengthen your upper body and build a great back. It doesn’t really matter which kind of rowing machine you choose – seated, standing, assisted, or single arm rowing – the benefits of these type of exercise for building a strong upper body are simply undeniable.

Another great exercise I highly recommend trying out is a shoulder press – machine, free weights, barbell or dumbbells – everything goes when we are talking about those beautiful and strong shoulders.

Don’t forget that a strong chest is the key to a strong upper body, so the chest press should become one of your favorite exercises as well. Choose a bench or a machine, dumbbells or bar – everything is suitable for your goal as long as you perform the exercises correctly.

And last, but definitely not least, a must exercise for everyone – pull down or pull ups. Pull down is a great machine for beginners if they want to build up their back strength and move on to pull-ups. Pull ups and chin ups work miraculously in building the so-called “triangle back”, which is often part of my clients’ wish list!

3) General Tips for Upper Body Strength

  • Carry the shopping bags yourself. This simple activity can highly influence the strength of your upper body. Forget shopping online: carrying your purchases daily will be a great exercise for your upper body and will also help you improve in the exercising field.
  • Get involved! Play outdoor games which put resistance onto your upper body – basketball, netball, tennis, badminton. This is a fun and easy way to build strength in your upper body.
  • Include Isometric Contractions (also called isometric exercises or isometrics). These are the type of exercises, in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction. These exercises are well known for making your upper body muscles stronger. One tip – try holding a pillow right in front of you while keeping your arms straight… Not so easy, right? ☺ Try it for a couple of days and increase your holding time gradually – you will see how much stronger you will feel in a relatively short period of time.
  • Don’t forget the core! The strength of your upper body highly depends on the strength of your core, so don’t forget to include a variety of exercises that help to strengthen the muscles of your core. My favorite core exercises are various variations of the plank as well as leg raises – these work best for strengthening core muscles. Tip: always add one or two exercises that help to strengthen the core at the end of your training sessions.

Continuous Hard Work Pays Off!

To sum up, continuous hard work and the right choice of exercises definitely pays off, leading to a well-trained upper body, built up strength and an improved physique.

There is no need to invest in expensive machines or training equipment: there are plenty of exercises available that require only your own body strength. Easy!

Even your everyday activities, such as carrying the shopping bags, can strengthen your upper body, so definitely no excuses!

 

 

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Contralateral limb raise

This exercise is one of the best ways to target your back, particularly the muscles that help to stabilize your spine.

Lie on your stomach on a mat or the floor with your legs outstretched behind you. Your toes are pointing toward the wall behind you. Reach your arms out overhead with your palms facing each other. Keep your head aligned with your spine.

Exhale and slowly stretch one arm and one leg out and lift them off of the floor. Keep your leg straight and your toes reaching to the wall behind you. Keep both hip bones and pubic bone in contact with the mat. Avoiding any rotation in your leg or pelvis. Keep your arm straight and try not to rotate your arm or shoulder. Your head and torso should not move, avoiding any arching in your back. Hold this position briefly. Return to your starting position.

Inhale and return to the starting position.

Repeat and switch sides.


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Modified Hurdler Stretch

This exercise stretches our lower back and hamstrings. You may feel it stretches other parts of your body. That´s a clear sign you need to stretch more often.

Sit on the mat with your legs outstretched in front of you, toes pointed toward the ceiling and knees straight. Bend your left knee and place the sole of the left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Sit as tall and straight as possible keeping your head aligned with your spine. Place your hands on the top of your right thigh.

Engage your abs to stabilize your spine. Exhale and slowly bend forward from your hips, sliding your hands toward your ankle. The knee should remain straight with the toes pointed toward the ceiling. Hold this position as you take a few breaths.

Relax and return to your starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.


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Barbell upright row

This is a basic exercise for your trapezius and will help to build a strong back.

Grasp a barbell with a grip slightly less than shoulder width. The bar should be resting on your thighs with your arms extended and a slight bend in your elbows. Keep your back straight.

Exhale and use the traps to lift the bar, raising your elbows up and to the side. Keep the bar close to your body as you raise it as much as you can. Your elbows should drive the motion, and should always be higher than your wrists.

Inhale and lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position.Repeat.


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Cobra pose

The Cobra pose sStretches muscles in the shoulders, chest, and abdominals. Also, decreases the stiffness of the lower back.

Lie on your stomach on a mat/floor with your hands under your shoulders and fingers facing forward. Legs should be straight and toes pointed.

Engage your abs to support the spine. Gently exhale. Press your hips into the mat. Lengthen the torso and curl your chest away from the ground while keeping your hips stable. Keep the shoulders rolling down and back. Hold this position and take 3-4 deep breathes.

Inhale one more time and gently lower your upper body back to the mat, lengthening the spine as you descend.

As the length of arms differs, individuals may often lift their hips off the mat as they fully extend their arms. In this case, limit the extension of your arms to keep the hips on the mat.

If you experience any pain in the low back with this movement, stop the exercise immediately.


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Forward Bend With Rounded Back

This stretch targets both hamstrings as well as the lower back. To enjoy all the benefits a forward bend has to offer, find just the right amount of rounding in your back.

Sit on a mat/floor with your legs extended in front of you. Point your toes towards the ceiling without bending your knees. Sit up tall. Try to make your torso vertical to the floor and your head aligned with your spine. Place your hands on the floor or on the top of your thighs. Engage your abs to stabilize your spine.

Gently exhale as you slowly hinge forward at the hips, sliding your hands down your legs toward your ankles. Try to keep the back flat. Do not allow your back to round. Keep your head aligned with your spine, knees straight and toes pointed upwards toward the ceiling. This should create a stretch through your calves and hamstrings, with some stretching in your low and middle back.

Continue to bend and reach forward to the point of tension in the stretch, but do not bounce or push to a point of pain. Hold this position and take 3-4 deep breathes. Release the stretch and return to starting position. Repeat.

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Standing barbell row

Barbell Rows are a full body, compound exercise. They work your upper back, lower back, hips, and arms. They build a stronger, muscular back and bigger biceps. Technique is very important in this lift. The tendency is to increase the curve in the low back during the lifting phase. Engage your abdominals to maintain a normal-to-flat spine through the entire lift.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointed forward.
Squat down to grasp the bar just wider than the knees with either a knuckles forward or palms-forward grip.

Prepare for the lift by keeping the spine in neutral, shoulder blades pulling down and back, chest lifted and head in line with your spine. Your heels should be on the floor.

Exhale. Lift the bar off the floor by simultaneously straightening your hips and knees to a 3/4 upright position where the barbell rests midway on your thigh with your arms straight. Inhale.

Exhale again and slowly pull the bar toward your torso until it touches your abdomen. Maintain a rigid spine without any movement or change in the shape of your back. Keep both feet firmly planted on the floor while maintaining a slight bend in the knees and hips.

Inhale and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position while maintaining your back, hip, knee, and foot position. Keep the shoulder blades squeezing together and the abdominal muscles engaged. Repeat.

At the end of the set, bend the hips and knees to lower the bar to the floor.


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Standing 1 Arm Back Row With Resistance Bands

This is a safe exercise for beginners who need to work on their posture. If you can´t keep your spine straight while rowing, you should practice with this exercise.
Anchor the band to the door at your stomach height.
Attach both ends of the band to one handle, and grip the handle with one hand.
Facing the door, stand 3 to 4 feet away from it. Feet with a wide stance, bend your knees and keep your back and head straight. Your palm is facing in and your arm is straight out in front of you.
Exhale and contract your lats, pulling the handle back until your elbow is right below your shoulder. Keep your arm tight to your body. Try to keep your forearm parallel to the floor as you pull back.
Inhale and gently return to the starting position. Repeat.


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Supermans Level 3

Supermans Level 3 will burn our lower back. Again, no equipment is required.

Lay face down on a mat, with your arms extended.

Exhale and contract your lower back and glutes, lifting your chest and legs up off the ground. Keep your hands and arms straight throughout the exercise.

Hold a few seconds. Inhale, back to initial position and repeat.

There are some other variations and yoga poses but luckily they are not called “supermans”.

All of them are safe and effective when it comes to building strength in our lower back. There is life beyond deadlift!


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Supermans Level 2

Supermans Level 2 is another easy exercise for our lower back. No equipment is required.

Lay face down on a mat, with your arms extended.

Exhale and lift your chest up off the ground using your back muscles. Keep your hands and arms straight throughout the exercise.

Hold this position a few seconds. Inhale and back to initial position. Repeat, chasing perfection :)


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