Upper Body ExercisesIt’s that time of year ladies! Time for tank tops, bikinis, and short shorts. Next weekend is Memorial Day, which for some is the start of summer. We have four weeks left of school and I am so excited to spend my days blogging, working out, recipe testing, and soaking up the sun.

Since it’s almost summertime, when talking about fitness and strength training with most girls, they usually talk about wanting to tone their arms. For me, I usually do a strength training workout for my arms at least twice a week and I also incorporate bodyweight exercises for the upper body in my HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts.

I once heard a fitness professional talk about the idea that you cannot expect to lift heavy weights if you have not even taught your body to lift its own bodyweight. I loved that! Because sometimes we think of strength training as needing heavy weights and fancy equipment. While those things are nice, you can easily use your own bodyweight to get a great workout.

The most common bodyweight exercise for your upper body is of course the push up. This type of exercise practice is usually the first idea that people seem to think of when they have the desire to improve their overall fitness, and by looking for the right food to eat after doing push ups, it is very likely that you will see an improvement in your overall fitness levels and health going forward. Now, I don’t know about you, but I HATE doing traditional push ups. I like to spice it up and try different exercises with push ups as only a part of the move. Regular push ups, while effective, are just so boring. Here I listed four great moves that I incorporate in at least one workout throughout the week. These moves will totally work your arms, shoulders, chest and core. You could either use them in a Tabata Workout or try to do 8-10 (beginner) or 12-15 (intermediate) repetitions for three sets.

1.) Hand Release Push Ups: I know I said I hate push ups, but for some reason I love these ones. They are definitely more advanced than a traditional push up because you need to completely bring your body to the floor then lift it up. These can also easily be done from your knees if you need to make it a bit easier. They are GREAT for your arms, chest, shoulders and core! And I just love the way my body feels after doing a few sets of these.

Hand Release Push Ups2.) Plank Up-Downs: Start in a push up position and bring your left forearm to the floor, then your right forearm. Then bring your left hand back up the starting position followed by your right hand. That’s one rep. Repeat now starting with the right arm. Be sure to keep your core tight the entire time because you aren’t’ just working your arms!

Plank Up-Downs

4.) Run x 4 and Push-Up: Run in a push up plank position x 4 (left knee to left elbow, right, left, right) and then go into a traditional push up. You could also do the push up part from your knees if you need to.

Runner Push Up4.) Tricep Dips: Start in a tabletop position with your fingertips facing your feet. Lower your body downward. Try to keep your core up and elbows/arms close to your body (don’t let them go out to the left or right). For an even better angle use a bench, chair, or park bench.

Tricep Dips

IMG_1713If you are new to strength training I highly suggest using your own bodyweight to start with and then move on to light weights. But I have been lifting for years and I still love these moves and feel as though they give me a great workout.

Wearing: Underarmour Tank and Victorias Secret The Most Loved Yoga Capri (These are so comfortable I NEED to order more!)

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