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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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Swiss ball dumbbell chest press

Changing the bench for a stability (Swiss) ball turns any exercise into a more challenging one because we have to stabilize the body. This requires focus and involves your core muscles.

Performing the dumbbell chest press on a Swiss ball will not only work your chest but your full core.

Sit on the ball holding one dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly begin walking your feet forward as you tuck your tail under, lowering your spine onto the ball as you walk your feet away from the ball until your head, shoulders and upper back are resting on the ball. Knees are bent to about 90 degrees with your thighs and torso parallel to the floor. Brace your abs to stabilize your spine.

Pull your shoulders down and back until you feel your shoulder blades hugging the ball. With the dumbbells near your chest and palms facing forward, keep the wrist straight, not bent.

Exhale, focus on your chest, and press the dumbbells upward with your elbows straight but not locked. Keep your feet pressed into the floor and your hips pushed up towards the ceiling to maintain stability and control during the exercise.

Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position. Repeat.Imagine that a bar connects the dumbbells. Try to keep the dumbbells parallel with each other and wrists in neutral position. Your head,

Imagine that a bar connects the dumbbells. Try to keep the dumbbells parallel with each other and wrists in neutral position.


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Single leg V-up

The single leg v up will help you build up the strength and coordination for a clean full V up. We all want a strong core, right?

Lay on the ground with your back flat to the ground and your arms and legs pointing straight up. At the same time, slowly lower your legs towards the ground.

Raise your arms above your head so that you end up in a banana-like position.

Exhale and raise both arms and one leg at the same time.

Don’t go too fast on these, you want to make sure you’re really using your core strength and not just relying on momentum to get your legs up and down.

Inhale on you way down and repeat, switching legs.


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Resistance bands Push Throughs

A cool exercise for your core!

Anchor your resistance band at the bottom of the door.

Lie on your back with your knees bent, in a crunch position and grab the handles and keep them just above your stomach. Make sure that you’re in a position where the resistance band is straightened out.

Exhale and push the band towards the center of your thighs. As you do that, lift your shoulders and head off the ground. This step is all done in one motion.

Inhale as you return to the original position. Repeat.


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Exercise after pregnancy

Hello, dears!

Along with tons of joy, pregnancy comes with lots of questions. After pregnancy,  how to get back in shape and all kind of questions related are very common. I´ve seen many women go to the gym for the first time after pregnancy. Although exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do as a new mom, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it does have benefits:

  • It helps strengthen and tone abdominal muscles.
  • It boosts energy.
  • It may be useful in preventing postpartum depression, by increasing the levels of feel-good chemicals (endorphins) in your brain.
  • It promotes better sleep.
  • It relieves stress.

The most important exercises in the first few days after birth are your pelvic floor exercises. Start doing them as soon as you can.

The pelvic floor is a broad sling of muscles, ligaments and sheet-like tissues that stretch from your pubic bone at the front of your body, to the base of your spine at the back. Your pelvic floor supports your bladder, bowel, and uterus, and gives you control over when you empty your bladder or bowel.

Having a weak pelvic floor makes it harder for you to squeeze the muscles and sphincters at the bottom of your bladder. You may find that you accidentally leak a little wee when you cough, sneeze or exercise. It affects up to a third of all new moms.

Your pelvic floor affects your vaginal muscles, too. You may find sex less satisfying if you have a weak pelvic floor.

Doing just a few pelvic floor exercises every day will help to treat symptoms, and will help to prevent problems later on so, include pelvic tilts, belly breathing, and abdominal bracing in your daily routine as soon as you comfortably can.

More details on pelvic floor exercises at Pelvic Floor First, an amazing Aussie website!

It is recommended at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (this means: you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating) aerobic activity every week. But this is imprecise because it´s also recommended a warm-up and a cool down (10 minutes each). At the end, doing it properly means 40-45 minutes a day. Good news is walking count as exercise! Walking is a great way to get back in shape. Walking outside has an added bonus because you can push your baby in a stroller.

Last, but not least, muscle-strengthening activities like yoga, Pilates, and lifting weights should be done in addition to your aerobic activity on at least 2 days a week. All these disciplines have not only a few exercises or routines but specialties adapted to your needs.

Start by strengthening your core with this easy exercises, when you feel ready:

Belly breathing: Belly breathing simply involves allowing your stomach to expand and contract as much as possible while you actively inhale and exhale as deeply as possible.

Abdominal Bracing: Begin by lying face-up on the floor. Brace your abdomen by contracting your entire abdomen as if you were preparing to get hit in the stomach. From here, perform different movements with your arms and legs (such as raising one or both arms overhead or extending your legs while keeping your back flat against the floor).

Pelvic Tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor or propped on a ball. Brace your abdomen and tilt your pelvis back by pressing your lower back into the floor. Hold this position for five seconds then repeat.

Happy training, Moms!

 

 

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Bicycle crunch

The bicycle crunch is an excellent exercise for building core strength and toning your thighs. It’s an easy move to complete, and when you feel that burn you’ll know you’re doing it right!

Lie flat on your back on the floor or mat with bent knees, feet placed firmly on the floor and your hands behind your head. Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. Pull the shoulder blades back and down. Slowly lift both feet off the floor until your thighs are vertical to the floor (90-degree angle at the hips) and your knees are at a 90-degree bend. Your feet may be relaxed with toes pointing away from your body.

Gently exhale and begin your movement by simultaneously:

  1. Contracting the abdominals to curl your head and shoulders off the mat.
  2. Straightening one leg toward the wall in front of you while keeping it elevated off the floor, higher than your hip.
  3. Bringing your other knee close to your chest.
  4. Rotating your torso slowly to bring your opposite elbow toward your bend knee.

Repeat the movement to the opposite side. Complete a set of quality reps until your movement quality (technique) declines.


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Alternating Elbow Tap Plank

A plank is an isometric exercise that strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles and lower back. It requires no equipment and little space, making it one of the easiest ab exercises to squeeze into your day.

This is one of many variations you should try.

From a standard plank position, reach your right hand to touch your left elbow. Put it back down and repeat with your left hand tapping your right elbow. Do not let your hips sway side to side as you move.


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Single leg plank

Another plank variation, great for hips and glutes.

Lay down on the floor with your belly to the ground. Align your elbows directly below the shoulders and ground the toes into the floor. Lift your body up and align your butt, upper back, and head in a straight line. Keep a neutral neck and spine.

With your legs hip-width apart, lift your right leg to hip height and hold as much as you can.

Switch legs.


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Single arm forearm plank

Time to work our core with an easy plank variation.

Lay down on the floor with your belly to the ground. Align your elbows directly below the shoulders and ground the toes into the floor. Lift your body up and align your butt, upper back and head in a straight line. Keep a neutral neck and spine.

Keep your head facing down, and extend one arm. Hold the position as long as you can, without shifting your hips.

Switch arms.


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Squat with Resistance Bands

The squat is a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the thighhips, and butt,  as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs, as well as developing core strength.

Squats with resistance bands offer many options and are super effective. You can do bands squats with arms up, arms down, connected to the bottom of the door and so on. If you are used to heavy squats with weights, you will LOVE squats with bands. The pain in your knees and back will be considerably less.


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Plank Jacks

The plank is good for your core, but adding a jumping jack motion with your feet pushes this move to a whole new level. The plank jack is a great cardio move; it raises your heart rate while working your lower and upper body.

Start in a standard plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists, your body in one straight line, and your feet together.

Like the motion of a jumping jack, jump your legs wide and then back together. Keep your pelvis steady and don’t let your butt rise toward the ceiling.


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Accordion crunches with resistance bands

This exercise targets your abs and hip flexors.

Fasten an ankle strap around the bottom of each foot (with the ring on the bottom of your foot), and lie on your back. Move far enough away from the door so that the band is beginning to stretch. While keeping your legs straight, lift your feet about 6 inches off the floor. For stability place your hands on the floor.

hile balancing on your butt, pull both feet in, away from the door while you simultaneously raise your shoulders off the floor.

Try not to round your back as your raise your upper body. At the top of the movement your back should be straight and chest up.


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