Workout Details

  • Duration: 35 Minutes
  • Calorie Burn: 180-341
  • Difficulty: 3/5
  • Equipment: Dumbbell
  • Training Type: Balance/Agility, Strength Training, Toning
Body Focus Upper Body

Complete Upper Body Workout for Strength & Toning: Arms, Shoulders, Chest, and Back Workout

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For the longest time I avoided upper body strength training. A long time ago, I felt like strength training was a waste of time - especially for the upper body. It didn't leave me huffing and puffing and dripping sweat like cardio did, which at the time, I believed was the fastest way to burn the most fat and calories, ultimately leading to weight loss. In my teens and very early twenties, all I cared about in terms of fitness was being "smaller" and weighing less. How exciting! What an empty, utterly soul-sucking, life-draining goal.



But seriously. The value of this incredible, life-changing, health-improving training was lost on me because I didn't see it as being directly correlated with an incredibly narrow-minded, one-track goal (being thinner). Now I know better. Now I know that there is much more to life and fitness and feeling good than weighing a certain amount or fitting into a certain size jeans. Plus, in my youth, I was very, very wrong about strength training being a waste of time when it comes to weight loss; lifting weights is one of the smartest, healthiest, most sustainable, and efficient ways to lose weight. It matters. How you train the entire body, matters. 

Regardless of what body part you may view as a "problem area" - a term I wouldn't mind seeing dying off, by the way - your whole body needs smart movement. Not just the parts that you've been likely taught or conditioned to dislike. Your whole body needs and deserves attention and smart training; "the whole is more than the sum of its parts" - I think Aristotle's point applies to the physical training of the body. Our bodies aren't just glutes, or calves, biceps, or deltoids. I see so many people (and trainers, for that matter) get hyper-focused on one muscle group in a way that's just not functional. These muscles need to be able to cohesively and consistently work together and alone - in unison and in isolation, in random and varying combinations. That's why it's important that we train the whole body, not just the parts that we think need improving. It's also another reason that we love variety in our training styles; high intensity interval training, strength training, Pilates, yoga, bodyweight training, stretching, walking, Tai Chi, hiking, swimming, etc. - they all have something different to offer and they can be an important and fun part of having a well-rounded fitness routine.

Aside from my health-oriented ramble about why you should very much care about both strength training and training your entire body, I can also give you the more superficial, surface-oriented scoop and tell you that workouts like this one are hands down the best way to get a fantastically toned upper body and arms. If the health benefits of strength training aren't enough to make you want to lift and lower the heavy things (hey - no judging here; whatever it takes to keep all of us moving!) just think of how great your arms, shoulders, and upper back will look. Strength training is metabolism-boosting, helps your body burn fat even while at rest, and it gives the body great, beautiful shape that can be put to good, functional use in your every day life. It's win/win/win. 

Related: How to Gain Weight the Healthy Way - Building Muscle, Curve & Shape

Now I love strength training. It has been my favorite way to train for over a decade now and I'm grateful for the way it makes me feel. What's your story with strength training? Do you love it? Are you brand new or a veteran? Are you leery or slowly learning to love it? Tell me where you're at; I'd love to hear! 

However you feel about strength training or working out as a whole, try to remember that sometimes new things are intimidating, and also that we tend to shy away from the things that make us feel "new" or inexperienced, or not very good at something. We all start somewhere; you'll have more fun pursuing any given goal if you keep your self talk positive and try not to judge yourself while you're learning something new.

Cardio Warm Up for Upper Body Workout: 30 Seconds Each
Overhead Stretch + Breath
Ventral Raise + Side Tap
Bow Pulls
Curl + Knee
Step + Tricep Extension 
Reverse Fly
Overhead Press + Butt Kicker
Chest Opener Twist
March + Wrist Roll
Arm Circles
Press + Side Step

Printable Upper Body Workout: 45 Seconds Active, 15 Seconds Rest, x2 per group
Dumbbell Drop + Step
Curl + Captain Morgan's

Tricep Extension + Halo
Bentover Fly

Wood Choppers
Overhead Press + Captain Morgan's

Chest Fly
Arm Circles

Lateral Raises
Ventral Raises

Cool down and stretch

Thank you so much for working out with me! I hope you feel great by the time you're finished with this routine. Make sure to drink lots of water and refuel with a nutrient dense meal; be nice to your body :) 

Workout Complete! 
Kelli