Women tend to love cardio, core and leg workouts, but avoid upper body training, which leads to poor posture and not so sexy arms. We all have our own muscular strengths and weaknesses. Although its fun to work on our strengths, we need to address our weak areas as well. Upon assessing inactive women I’ve noticed a strong trend toward extremely poor upper body strength. Yet improving upper body strength is generally not a top 5 on their list of goals. Make working on your weakest link a goal (applies to men as well) with these three bodyweight exercises you can do just about anywhere. Since we all like to be efficient with our workouts I chose three exercises that require abdominal engagement as well.
These three exercises done in conjunction increase upper body strength and focus on static and dynamic strength from the push up position. Ultimate goal is to do all 3 exercises as a circuit and repeat 3 times. For the beginner start with just one exercise and master that. Two days later add another exercise. By end of the week you are familiar and comfortable with a position to correctly perform all three exercise. I have a number of progressions for each.
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Shoulder Taps: Start in a hand plank position with shoulders, hips, ankles in a straight line. Keep the tempo slow as you lift one arm to tap opposite shoulder. Focus on keeping abs engaged and hips level.
ADVANCED- keep feet close together or stack them
INTERMEDIATE- position feet wide, up to 3 feet wide.
BEGINNER- set up in a kneeling position making sure shoulders, hips, knees are in one straight line.
Slow mountain climbers: Same set up as shoulder taps.
ADVANCED: keep hips level (tend to pop up on this one) and drive knee forward between hands without rounding out spine. Explore other movement patterns like crossing knee underneath aiming for opposite shoulder, or focusing on obliquies and going wide with knee to same elbow.
INTERMEDIATE: if you struggle with keeping spine aligned simply work on the hand plank position and then lift one foot off the ground keeping leg straight, Alternate legs, allowing for more air time as your progress.
BEGINNER- start in a kneeling push up position with hands directly under shoulders, and shoulder, hip and knee in a straight line. Keeping abs engaged, squeeze glutes and lift one knee off the ground extending leg straight back as you do so, like a donkey kick.
Push up: Saving the hardest for last. If you are not strong with push-ups, give yourself a target. Place a yoga block, foam roller, ball, or rolled up towel under your chest as a target.
ADVANCED: foot position should be stacked or very close.
INTERMEDIATE: Foot position wide or one knee down (like kneeling position) and other leg extended (like full push up position)
BEGINNER: kneeling with proper set up of shoulder, hip, and knees in one straight line. Alternatively you can do these elevated off the ground, against a desk, kitchen counter etc. Focus on great form before progressing.
Plan to targget the chest and arms with these three exercises at least twice weekly. You are sure to see and feel results in no time.