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This weekend, I shared my favorite upper body workout to do at the gym on our InstaStory!

Karena and I love workouts that tone and strengthen the shoulders, arms, and upper back- they just feel so good! Plus, these exercises will naturally improve your posture. The muscles that make up your upper body help pull your shoulders back- aka you’ll stand taller and lead the day with your heart. The better your posture, the more you feel like the confident mega babe that you are!!

This workout uses my fave machine at the gym that I can’t get at home… the cables! You’ll notice that you’ll feel every one of these moves in your abs too! Plus I added the most intense core move at the end! 😉

Make sure to follow us on Instagram @KarenaKatrina and @ToneItUp for more behind the scenes of our workouts and TIU meals! Also, check out your Daily Workout feature every morning for your 31 Rep Challenge!

TIP ~ Cables have different attachments for various types of moves. We tell you which one to use for each exercise below! The attachments are usually hooked on to the cable machine, but if you can’t find them, ask someone who works at the gym where they are! Just flash that gorgeous smile of yours 😉

Move Guide

Download your printer friendly Move Guide HERE!!

With all of these moves I want you to focus on the eccentric movement- aka the lengthening of the muscle. This will help with strength and toning. Concentric is the shortening of the muscle. So think about a bicep curl- drop your weight down just as slow and controlled as you curled up. This way you use your muscle instead of just dropping the weight and using gravity. When you work with cables it’s even harder! You can either let the cable control you… or you can control the cable and get an even better workout!

Straight Arm Pulldown

Strengthens your back and core!

Use the straight bar attachment for this move. Begin standing with feet hip distance, both hands holding the cable bar, and a slight bend at the elbows and knees. Keep core tight as you pull the cable straight down toward hips. Maintain a slight bend at the elbow throughout the move. Return to start. You may even notice your abs working a lot!

Complete 15-20 reps x3

Tricep Extension

Tones your triceps & core

Use the rope attachment for this move. Begin standing with feet together, core tight and both hands on the cable rope. Begin with your arms at a 90 degree angle with elbows tucked by your side. Squeeze and push down toward your hips and fully extend your arm. Return to start. Keep those abs tight and engaged. Remember to breathe too!

(I like doing a dropset here. Starting with heavier weight and dropping down to finish the last 8 and really burn out.)

Complete 20 reps x3

Single Arm Lat Pull Down

Tones your back, biceps, core and legs.

This is a very high row. I like this more than the traditional lat pulldown and it works the core at the same time. Use the single handle attachment for this move. Begin in a lunge position with left foot forward and core engaged. Make sure your knee doesn’t go past your toes! Hold the handle with your left hand, arm extended in front of you. Pull the handle down and back so your hand is in line with your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blade back. Return to start slowly and controlled. Keep your abs engaged and legs strong. You got this girl!

Complete 15 reps, then switch sides x3

Bicep Curls

Tones your biceps and core – focus on keeping your body strong and engaged.

Use the straight bar attachment for this move. Begin standing with feet together (option to stand on one leg for more core work), palms up, and both hands holding the bar. Keep your core engaged and elbows by your side as you curl the bar toward your chest. Slowly and controlled, return to start.

*** It’s easy to rock back and forth, but your core will keep you in line when engaged.

Complete 20 reps x 3

Seated Rows

Strengthens and sculpts your upper and lower back, rear delts, biceps and core.

Begin sitting with a slight bend in the knees, neutral back, and holding the cable handles with both hands. Have your palms facing toward each other and begin with arms fully extended. Lean slightly forward, keeping your abs engaged. Pull both handles toward your abs (lower than the chest), squeezing your shoulder blades together. Keep your shoulders down (it’s tempting to bring those shoulders up to the ears, but keep them down and back). Return to start.

Complete 20 reps x 3


Strengthens your ENTIRE abdomen! Really sculpts those lower abs and tones the upper!

Put both arms into the ab straps and let your legs hang straight below you. With a slight bend at the knee, use your core to lift legs straight in front of you. Slowly lower back down.

*** Focusing on the eccentric phase on this exercise is KEY! When you lower slowly and controlled, your body won’t swing. You can start with bent knees on this move and work your way up. Really control on the way down, girl!

Complete as many as you can with good form. This is a very challenging move, so come up as high as you can and do your best! You’ve got this!

Check in with me on instagram ~ #TIUgymworkout @ToneItUp



9 Exercises to Build Unstoppable Upper Body Strength

Nine key exercises to build power, muscle and upper body strength and ultimately help you carry yourself through life. This article is the first part of the Rehband ‘Carry Yourself’ series, a project dedicating to getting you fit for life, building upper body strength, improving mobility and reducing the risk of injury.

Train safe and maximize your performance. See our assortment for Functional Training.

We all have different motivational reasons for working out. We all have slightly different goals that we are aim for when it comes to numbers, events, competitions and general self-worth. Whatever we are looking towards, there is one aspect of enabling our full potential as humans that is universally applicable and important, and that is to be fit for life.

“This principle is simple, it means to be a healthy, strong, injury free and mobile human.”

It means growing up to be able to play with your grandchildren, to be fit enough to do everything you want and go everywhere you would like to go. It is about being able to carry your baby around for hours, lift yourself out of the pool, pull yourself up in case you fall. It means you can hike, swim, run, cycle, play football, maintain good posture, be proud of yourself and enable your full potential. It extends to walking tall, your body becoming a reflection of your lifestyle and life choices.


These nine key exercises will improve your upper body strength and ultimately help you carry yourself through life. They are exercises that will also improve tendon strength and solidify good movement patterns when performed correctly. Strengthening your body and movement is a positive step towards avoiding injury in the future.

It cannot be overstated how important correct form and using the appropriate equipment is when it comes to upper body exercises. Elbow sleeves, wrist protection and compression arm sleeves are all highly effective items to help you be the best athlete you can be, strengthen movement patterns and support the natural movements of your body.


The Overhead Press (also known as the Strict Press or Shoulder Press) is a compound exercise that involves lifting a weighted barbell overhead to a fully locked out position with the strict use of the shoulders and arms.

Pressing the bar overhead is one of the most useful upper body exercises you can do. This highly effective exercise involves the entire body. Your feet, legs, glutes, core, abs, hips, ankles and wrists help to stabilise the body whilst your shoulders, upper chest, back and arms press the bar overhead.

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NEW 5RM STRICT PRESS!💃 Not every day we get to PR, so cherish when it happens! #135 @reebok @nfsports_ @roguefitness

A post shared by Annie Thorisdottir (@anniethorisdottir) on Feb 21, 2017 at 11:03am PST


The Overhead Press gives great strength in your core and back as well as shoulder and arms. It trains the whole body to balance while standing and pressing the weight overhead. It taxes your full body and CNS (central nervous system) as well as increasing your ability to control and stabilise heavy weights above your head. This is incredibly useful for improving your:

  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk / Split Jerk
  • Thrusters
  • Pull Ups
  • Muscle Ups

Rehband elbow sleeves are a highly useful accessory here to help you perfect the bar path when you are first learning the exercise. They will give you additional support and confidence, and for advanced lifters, are great for when you are working with testing max lifts or higher volume barbell cycling in WODs.


When it comes to upper body strength, the humble pull up is a tried and tested bodyweight exercise that can significantly help you to enhance your abilities. You can play around with the different variations in order to challenge your body in new ways. Wide grip (pronated) will especially target your upper back, whilst chin ups with a closer grip (supinated) are a great way to develop your biceps.


  • Keep your core tight
  • Squeeze your glutes
  • Grip as hard as you can on the bar
  • Try gripping a light plate (small 1.25kg) between your feet if you are finding it difficult to engage your core, as this will help to force you to activate this part of your body during the movement.

If you are still struggling with pull ups, try this 3-day a week program to improve the exercise.


  • Single Arm High Pull – 3 x 8 / side
  • Hollow Hold – 6 x :10


  • Supinated Chin Over Bar Hang – 6 x :10
  • Farmer’s Carry – 3-5 x 100ft

Note: Your carrying abilities should be 110-120% of your back squat. Make sure you really push it on this movement. Especially if you do not have Farmer’s Handles. It is very low skill. You have to move an object from Point A to Point B. Remember, a strong grip will lead to great things, and not just when it comes to pull ups.

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Don’t forget the basics – last set of 4×10 strict wide grip pull ups 💪 End of a great day in Poland coaching and training @crossfit_avanport

A post shared by Annie Thorisdottir (@anniethorisdottir) on Nov 12, 2017 at 10:14am PST


  • Supinated Bent Arm Hang – 6 x :10
  • Landmine Row – 3 x 8 / side

Note: This exercise will really target your lower lat and oblique. Ring Rows or DB Rows are great too.


The bench press is not a common exercise in Functional Training, yet it can be a great way to build power and improve lockout strength and overhead press movements for other lifts.


  • Setup. Lie on the flat bench with your eyes under the bar. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder-blades. Feet flat on the floor.
  • Grab the bar. Place your pinky on the Knurl (ring) marks of your bar. Hold the bar in the base of your palm with straight wrists and a full grip.
  • Un-rack. Take a big breath and unrack the bar by straightening your arms. Move the bar over your shoulders with your elbows locked.
  • Lower the bar. Lower it to your mid-chest while tucking your elbows 75°. Keep your forearms vertical. Hold your breath at the bottom.
  • Press. Press the bar from your mid-chest to above your shoulders. Keep your butt on the bench. Lock your elbows at the top. Breathe.


Bench Press with your lower back arched. Lie on the bench with a natural arch in your lower back. The same arch your lower back shows when you stand. Someone should be able to slide a flat hand between the bench and your lower back. Arching your lower back also helps to keep your chest up.

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Since DB’s are in at the moment, @orrsome_photo and I thought we would bring back the old gym days and do Incline DB Bench Press. 💪🏽😜🙌🏽 @reebokau @crossfitgames #BeMoreHuman #MeanwhileInReebok #RoadtoRegionals #PacificRegional

A post shared by Tia-Clair Toomey (@tiaclair1) on May 17, 2017 at 4:46am PDT


Keep your feet about shoulder width apart, with your heels flat on the floor. Bring them back so that you can feel the tightness and tension in your legs and core. When you bench press, drive with your feet, engage the glutes, hamstrings and quads and push this force up through your body into the lift. Having your feet flat on the floor will also help you to stay stable throughout the whole lift.


Always keep your body tight and your core engaged throughout the full lift.


The Barbell Row will improve the strength of your back, hips and grip and is even useful for improving the power of your pull ups and muscle ups.


  • To avoid back pain, keep your lower back neutral. Do not let it round or you will squeeze your spinal discs.
  • Do not hold the bar in the air between reps or your back will tire and round.
  • Rest the bar on the floor between reps.
  • Set your lower back neutral before you Barbell Row the next rep.

The barbell row is not only a back or upper body exercise. When you are unracking the bar and setting your stance, you will bend at the waist and the glutes, hamstrings and hips will work together to stabilise your body even before you have even completed the first pull.

The row places a lot of pressure on your back and arms so build up the weight gradually in accordance with your growing strength. Elbow sleeves also provide support and protection.

The more weight you use, the more these “other” muscles will be called into action. On heavy sets, they need to fire to allow the musculature or the back and shoulder girdle to experience maximum enrollment.


Dips are a staple compound exercise in many athletes’ routines. But the dip is not as simple as it looks. This exercise requires great strength, stability and range of motion. Most people do not have the combination of all three, and that increases their risk of injury when performing this movement.

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“It’s just a way to test yourself every single day you know, to see what your body is capable of. That’s mainly why I love CrossFit.” #Rehband #Rehbandfullpotential #kneesleeves #blackkneesleeves #finallyinblack #CrossFit #JoshBridges @bridgesj3

A post shared by Rehband (@rehband) on Nov 4, 2016 at 12:29am PDT


  • Start in the support position with the elbows locked and hands turned out
  • Emphasize a long neck and hollow body position
  • Initiate the dip by sending the shoulder forward
  • Reach the bottom of the dip with your shoulder below the elbow (just like proper squat position with the hip below the knee)
  • Press back up and finish in the same strong support position in which you started


The biggest mistake with dips is letting the shoulder move too far forward as you go down. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on the shoulder joint and its muscles.

If you want to make dips safer for the shoulders, make sure to lower yourself while contracting the upper back as you go down. Pinch your shoulder blades together as if you were trying to clamp something in between them.

Ring dips are quite a bit more challenging than bar dips because rings are extremely unstable. They demand the use of numerous stabiliser muscles in your core and shoulders.


The push up is a timeless and classic exercise, building strength, muscle and power. It is also a tough exercise and far more versatile than people think. Different variations of push ups will strengthen your core and back as well as your chest, back, shoulders, arms and wrists — pretty much every muscle in your body.

Simple but effective

Bring your arms closer into your sides if you want to target your triceps more (similar to a close grip bench press). Try diamond push ups to make the movement much more difficult if you find the common technique too easy.

Raising your feet off the ground (try using a bench) will relocate the stimulus and force your upper chest to work harder. Also try placing your hands on weight plates and dipping your chest all the way to the floor in order to create a negative portion for the exercise.


The Arnold Press is a variation of the traditional shoulder press and is named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used the exercise to help build all three of the main muscles in the shoulders. This exercise requires a rotational movement throughout the press portion of the lift, which increases shoulder stability and targets the inside shoulder muscles at the bottom of the lift.

Technique for the Arnold Press. © Deposit Photos


  • Sit on an exercise bench with back support and hold two dumbbells in front of you at about upper chest level with your palms facing your body and your elbows bent.

Tip: Your arms should be next to your torso. The starting position should look like the contracted portion of a dumbbell curl.

      • Raise the dumbbells as you rotate the palms of your hands until they are facing forward.
      • Continue lifting the dumbbells until your arms are extended above you in straight arm position. Breathe out as you perform this portion of the movement.
      • After a second pause at the top, begin to lower the dumbbells to the original position by rotating the palms of your hands towards you.

Tip: The left arm will be rotated in a counter clockwise manner while the right one will be rotated clockwise. Breathe in as you perform this portion of the movement.

      • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Variations: You can perform the exercise standing up but that is not recommended for people with lower back issues.

Tip: Try performing this exercise wearing compression arm sleeves if you want to improve your proprioceptive abilities. Focus your mind on the entire movement and lift the weight slowly.


Another simple but highly effective exercise. Perform these slowly with total control. These target the lower back are widely used by top Powerlifters and Functional Training athletes.


      • Never try to rush through them or round your back during the movement.
      • Hold an extra weight plate tight to your chest to increase resistance.


This upper body exercise is a shoulder press performed whilst on the floor with your legs out in front of you. A standing base allows the legs to stabilise the trunk but the kettlebell Z press forces you to build overhead strength and power because you cannot generate force using your legs. It also makes you engage your core in order to control the weight through the full range of motion.

Kettlebells are great to work on muscle inconsistencies during pressing, as they allow you to train unilaterally. They are also great to promote a neutral wrist position, because when you insert the hand properly, the handle and bell will prevent your wrist from hyperextending.

Improve your upper body strength

Read the other aticles in Rehband’s Upper Body Guide – Carry Yourself.

Enjoy the SilverSneakers store!

Plus, many older adults enjoy playing sports like tennis and golf, which take a certain amount of upper-body strength and mobility to do well, he says.

Unless you make an effort to build or maintain your muscle, it won’t stick around forever. Age-related decline in muscle mass, also known as sarcopenia, starts around age 40 and continues at a steady rate until up to 50 percent of our muscle is gone by age 80, according to a review in the journal Current Opinion in Rheumatology.

What’s more, sarcopenia is most pronounced in lower-body muscles, which means the upper body has to kick in to help you push yourself up from a chair, get out of bed, or perhaps use a walker. Upper-body strength is especially important for helping maintain your mobility and independence, says Erika Mundinger, D.P.T., a physical therapist at TRIA Orthopaedic in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Now for some good news: Anyone can build and maintain functional upper-body strength with a bit of resistance training. In fact, a small study in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found that just 16 total sessions of upper-body resistance training in six weeks significantly improved functional strength in older adults.

“Strength training prevents compensatory movement patterns that ultimately lead to further degeneration and compression of arthritic joints,” Mundinger says. “Strength training also helps circulate the nutrients you need for healthy muscle tissues, fibers, and the joints your muscles attach to,” she says.

When it comes to building functional upper-body strength, it’s tough to beat the traditional pushup. This multi-joint movement works your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core, while also challenging your lower body. But pushups can be challenging or even painful for many older adults, primarily due to osteoarthritis in the shoulders, spinal degeneration, and loss of muscle mass, Mundinger says.

One option is to modify the pushup by elevating your hands on a wall or countertop. This body position may allow you to feel the movement in your chest and core without compensation from surrounding muscles. But if you feel any pain or that your form is compromised, you’re better off trying an alternative upper-body exercise.

The 5 Best Pushup Alternatives

The five moves below offer similar strength- and stability-boosting benefits as the pushup. You can pick two or three to add to your weekly routine, or simply pick one to swap in for pushups whenever a workout or group fitness class calls for them.

“The most important thing is that you feel the exercise in the right places and you’re lifting to moderate fatigue,” Machowsky says.

That means if you’re asked to perform 10 reps, you should end your set feeling like you could maybe do two more reps with perfect form, but no more than that. If you could knock out three or more additional reps, you need to increase the weight you’re lifting.

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

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Upper-Body Exercise #1: Chest Press

Grab a dumbbell in each hand, and lie faceup on a bench. Position the dumbbells just outside of and above your chest, palms facing away from your body. If you have cranky shoulders, try angling the dumbbells so that your palms face each other. Your elbows should flare about 45 degrees away from your torso. Do not let them flare straight out from your sides. Brace your core to press your low back into the bench. This is your starting position.

From here, press the weights up and together until your arms are straight, but not locked out. Pause, then slowly lower the weights to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform two sets of six to 10 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Upper-Body Exercise #2: Floor Press

This exercise is very similar to the chest press, but you’ll lie on the floor instead of on a bench. Using the floor helps remove potential strain on your shoulder joints. Grab a dumbbell in each hand, and lie faceup on the floor with knees bent and feet firmly planted. Extend elbows to a 90-degree position with triceps (backs of upper arms) resting on the floor and dumbbells above your chest. This is your starting position.

Exhale and brace your core while pressing the weights up and together until your arms are straight, but not locked out. Pause, then slowly lower the weights to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform two sets of six to 10 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Upper-Body Exercise #3: Chest Fly

Grab a dumbbell in each hand, and lie faceup on a bench or on the floor. Hold the dumbbells above your chest with elbows slightly bent and palms facing each other. This is your starting position.

Without changing the bend in your elbows, slowly lower the dumbbells down and slightly back until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. If you’re not on a bench, lower until your elbows touch the floor. Pause, then lift the dumbbells back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Perform two sets of six to 10 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Cautionary note: If you have preexisting shoulder pain, this move may aggravate it so concentrate on engaging your abdominals, Machowsky says. If you still feel it in your shoulders, skip this exercise, and try chest or floor presses instead.

Upper-Body Exercise #4: Bird Dog

Start on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Engage your core, keep your spine neutral, and gaze down or slightly forward.

Lift your left arm and extend your right leg until they are in line with the rest of your body. Pause, then lower back down, and repeat on the opposite side with right arm and left leg extended. That’s one rep. Perform two sets of six to 10 reps, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Upper-Body Exercise #5: Bent-Arm Plank

Lie on your stomach on the floor with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and forearms flat on the floor. Focus your eyes between your hands. Your legs should be resting behind you, knees hip-width apart (or slightly farther apart for extra balance).

From here, lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body forms a straight line from head to ankles, and squeeze your upper back, core, and glutes. Hold this position for one minute.

If that’s too challenging, hold your plank as long as possible, rest, and repeat until you reach one minute total. Or do the move with your knees on the floor, and lift your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to knees.

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When it comes to building a beach body your abs and arms are all-important. This workout will make sure both are popping, while also working on core strength and stability.

The workout itself only needs to be done once a week and should take around 50 minutes to complete. It has been designed for you to run through all the exercises in circuit A without rest between each move. Rest for 60 seconds. Then do three more ‘A’ exercises (of your own choosing) before moving on to exercises B1 and B2 to finish.

Simple. Now, better start writing up some invitations to the gun show.

Your Abs and Arms Overhaul

(A1) Close-grip Bench Press

Sets: 4
Reps: 6
Suggested load: 80 per cent of your one rep max

How to do it: Lie on a bench and grip a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, lower under control to your chest and push back up explosively.

(A2) Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

Sets: 4
Reps: 10

How to do it: Stand tall and hold a dumbbell with both hands directly above your head. Slowly flex your elbows and lower the weight behind your head as you keep your upper arms still. Extend your arms and repeat.

(A3) Pull-ups

Sets: 4
Reps: 6

How to do it: Using an overhand grip, with palms facing away and hands shoulder-width apart, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Lower under control. Struggling? Make them easier with a resistance band.

(A4) Bicep Curls

Sets 4
Reps 10
Suggested load 65 to 70 per cent of your one rep max

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length next to your sides. Your palms should face each other. Stand as tall as you can and with your feet shoulder-width apart. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Your palms should now face your shoulders. Pause, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.

(A5) Plank

Sets: 4
Reps: 60 seconds

How to do it: Get in a press-up position but rest on your forearms rather than your hands. Make sure your back is straight and tense your abs and your glutes. Hold without allowing your hips to sag.

(B1) Cable Pushdowns

Sets: 1
Reps: 50
Suggested load: Use a weight where you can complete around 30 to 35 reps before failure. Rest for approximately 10 to 15 seconds. Then squeeze out some more reps until, again, you fail. Rest for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat until you reach 50 reps.

How to do it: Set a cable column in a high position with a straight bar attachment. Keep your elbows tight to your body and extend your elbow, while squeezing your triceps hard as you bring the bar down in front of your body with an overhand grip.

(B2) Cable Curls

Sets: 1
Reps: 50
Suggested load: Again, use a weight where you can do around 30 to 35 reps before failure. Rest for 15 seconds, grit your teeth and go again. Fail again. Rest again. Go again. Repeat until you hit 50 reps.

How to do it: Set the cable column to a low position with a straight-bar attachment. Keep your elbows tight to your body and flex at the elbow, curling the weight towards your chest and squeezing your biceps hard at the top of the movement. Use an underhand grip.

Daniel Davies Daniel Davies is a staff writer at Men’s Health UK who has been reporting on sports science, fitness and culture for various publications for the past five years.

Alicia Ziegler’s AAA Workout: Awesome Abs And Arms!

Because she’s an actress and a Dymatize athlete, Alicia Ziegler—or “Ziggy,” as she likes to be called—knows a thing or two about how to look great. You can’t wear a tank top on screen or represent a brand without always being in tip-top shape. Her upper body and abs are especially on point!

To help you reach your fitness goal, Ziggy brought her AAA (Awesome Abs and Arms) tips and workout to! If you are up for the challenge, try one of her workouts listed below after following her result-boosting tips.

Stay consistent, and you’ll be able to rock a tank top or sleeveless dress regardless of the season!

AAA Tip 1: Don’t try outtraining a poor diet

Many people think that if they exercise a lot, their abs will just pop out. But visible abdominals are the product of having a low body-fat percentage, not from doing thousands of crunches.

Exercise certainly helps create a lean body, but your diet should be priority number one. “If you eat foods that bloat you; cause digestive disruption; or are full of sugar, additives, and artificial ingredients, you’ll probably see more fat accumulate around your midsection,” explains Ziggy. “Want visible abs? Cut the garbage and eat clean.”

Building a nutrition plan full of healthy, whole foods will take you a lot further toward your goal of having a six-pack than anything else.

AAA Tip 2: Increase the difficulty

Higher-intensity, more-difficult exercises usually pack the best fat-burning and muscle-building punch. For example, Ziggy suggests doing hanging leg raises with legs straight instead of knees bent. “This will increase the challenge of the movement because the range of motion is longer and the weight is actually heavier,” she says.

A great way to increase the difficulty of all of your lifts is to make sure you’re always doing them through a full range of motion. By allowing your muscles to stretch fully and then contract hard, you’re providing your muscles all the stress they need to grow efficiently. If you always take the easy route and shorten the repetitions, you’ll be disappointed in your results.

AAA Tip 3: Quality over quantity

No need to devote hours to training your abs. “Truth be told, I don’t train my abs often at all,” says Ziggy. “I really only perform 2-4 ab-specific exercises per week. I don’t have to train them as an individual muscle group because I keep them activated throughout my training sessions all week long, no matter what body part I’m working.”

Like any other muscle in the body, abdominal muscles need stress to grow. However, your abs are different than any other muscle group because they’re active in almost every other exercise you do. From squats to shoulder presses, your abs are turned on. Otherwise, you’d crumple under the weight.

Instead of spending 20 minutes training abs after she lifts, Ziggy often chooses cardio-based moves that work the core. She names bench jumps, sprints, mountain climbers, and burpees as favorites.

AAA Tip 4: Hit up the heavy weights

Ziggy is no stranger to the heavy weights. “Don’t be afraid to lift heavier than you think you can!” she says. “Challenge yourself. I constantly hear gym-goers caution against going heavy because they don’t want to look bulky, but pushing yourself is what produces maximal results.”

“Lifting heavy” will be different to each individual. The point, though, is to challenge yourself. Muscle growth and shape comes from intense effort, not from doing as little as possible. “Remember,” says Ziggy, “you can sculpt your physique by playing with sets, reps, and speed of lifting, as well as techniques like supersets and pyramids.”

AAA Tip 5: Use machines and free weights

While you may have heard that using free weights is key to a standout physique, Ziggy doesn’t eliminate machines from her plan. “If you’re partial to free weights, challenge yourself with machines, and vice versa,” she says. “Don’t just stick to what you know. Outside of your comfort zone is where you will usually see the most change.”

Using free weights and machines will each hit your muscles in different ways. Machines can often help you isolate a particular muscle group, while free weights are usually better for full-body lifts.

AAA Tip 6: Have fun!

When Ziggy trains, there’s no such thing as a boring exercise. “Play!” she exclaims. “I include interesting movements like Spiderman push-ups, burpee pull-ups, and walk-outs to keep my arms fatigued and my brain engaged. I also like to pair exercises like the Arnold press and push-ups. Not only does doing one exercise immediately after another work my whole upper body, but it raises my heart rate as well.”

Making your workouts fun is often one of the best ways to stay motivated. If you enjoy going to the gym and enjoy what you do when you’re there, you’ll be more likely to continue working out for years!

AAA Tip 7: Try something new

Going through the same workouts week after week can be effective, but throwing in a new challenge can breathe new life into your training and create awesome new changes in your physique.

Ziggy took a chance and tried boxing. It’s now become a big part of her exercise routine. “There’s nothing better for my upper body than punching a bag for an hour!” she says.

If you’ve been secretly dying to try Zumba, powerlifting, or CrossFit, then do it! You never know what kind of impact it’ll have on your physique and your attitude.

AAA Tip 8: Make no excuses!

There’s really no excuse for not exercising. “Pull-ups and push-ups can be done anywhere, and there are a million exercise variations you can do without any equipment,” says Ziggy.

If you want to get in shape, you can. No need for a gym or fancy equipment. All you need is your own two feet and a positive outlook.

Alicia Ziegler’s AAA Workouts

Now that you know the importance of working hard and staying consistent, here are Ziggy’s ab and arm protocols! Implement the ab routine 1-3 times per week and the arms workout 1-2 times per week.

Arm Workout Note: Vary your reps and weight. Some weeks, use heavier weight and do 8-12 reps per set. 1 Seated Cable Rows 2-3 warm-up sets. 3 sets, 15-20 reps + 8 more exercises

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Abdominal Workout 1 Circuit 3-4 rounds Mountain Climbers or Sprints or High Knees 4 sets, 30-60 sec + 1 more exercises

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don’t risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

This 15-minute routine designed by personal trainer Ben Boudro, owner of Xceleration Fitness in Auburn Hills, Michigan does just that.

Here’s how it works: The muscles in your shoulders, arms, chest, and upper back help push weights overhead or raise them in front of your body while your entire core works to counteract those moving forces. More specifically, your core keeps your back straight and the rest of your body steady, creating not only greater strength gains but improved functional (a.k.a. real-world) fitness.

Perform this circuit two or three times a week. Starting with the first exercise, complete as many reps as possible in 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds; continue this pattern for all four moves, then rest for one minute. Repeat twice for three total rounds.



How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees softly bent, and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders, palms facing each other (a). Press the weights directly overhead until your arms are fully extended (b). Lower the weights to your shoulders, then extend them out to the sides at shoulder height, palms facing forward (c). Reverse to return to start. That’s one rep.

RELATED: Do This One Move Before Every Abs Workout To Sculpt A Six-Pack Faster

2. Bent-over row and fly


How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and torso nearly parallel to the floor; hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length, palms facing each other (a). Bend your elbows to pull the weights to the sides of your torso (b). Lower the weights back down, then extend your arms to the sides at shoulder height (c). Reverse to return to start. That’s one rep.

3. Gator press


How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees softly bent, and hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms raised in front of you at shoulder height, palms facing down (a). Keeping both arms straight, raise your right arm overhead (b). Reverse to return to start; repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Continue alternating.

4. Dumbell Y to forward punch


How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees softly bent, and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your chest, palms facing each other (a). Push the weights up and out overhead to form a Y with your body (b), then lower them back down to your chest. Punch both arms straight out in front of you (c). Reverse to return to start. That’s one rep.

This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.

RELATED: This Might Be The Easiest Way Ever To Get Toned Arms

Arms + Abs Dumbbell Workout {8 Compound Exercises to Strengthen + Tone}

The ultimate arms and abs dumbbell workout! Get a better return on your rep-investment by maximizing the number of muscles you engage in these 8 compound upper body exercises.

Happy Thanksgiving week friends! I love this time of year because it forces us to stop and think about all the amazing things in life we are grateful for. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, focusing on our to-do lists and never stopping to give thanks and praise, appreciating all that we have.

I’m so guilty over here, just ask my husband how many weeks in a row he’s heard, ‘I just have to get through this really busy week…then things will slow down and we can do x, y and z.’ So I’m seriously looking forward to the short week ahead and taking Thursday and Friday completely away from work to kick back and relax with family.

And although I love a good deal, I’ll be spending Black Friday snuggled in at home sipping tea and starting the nesting phase because our bathroom remodel is finally done this week!

Speaking of a good deal, you’ve probably heard the term, ‘two-fer’ before. It’s getting a two for one deal — two coffees for the price of one, two recipes from the same ingredient list, or in this case working two major muscle groups in one workout. Think of it as getting a better return on your rep-investment by targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Challenge your arms and abs with these 8 compound upper body exercises that require balance and constant core engagement. It’s a quick but effective, 20-minute workout designed to strengthen and tone your biceps, triceps, back, shoulders, chest and abs {I guess that makes it a six-fer?!}.

If you have more than 20-minute to break a sweat, this arms and abs dumbbell workout pairs well with an outdoor run, treadmill sprints, or cardio of your choice.

This workout includes several balance-based exercises {balance bicep curl, single leg back fly, curl to press with front kick, tree pose overhead tricep kicks and ect}, if you need more stability you can always kickstand your foot placing 80% of your weight in your balancing leg and 20% of your weight in your floating leg. Or you can remove the balance aspect altogether and focus on maintaining constant core engagement with two feet planted on the ground.

the workout: arms + abs dumbbell workout

This arms + abs workout requires a set of medium dumbbells {5-to-20 lbs}. Complete 12 repetitions per exercise. Repeat circuit one x 2 sets before moving onto circuit two, which will also be repeated x 2 sets.

Alternate your standing or balance leg on the second set of each circuit {ex. perform balance bicep curls standing on the right leg the first time through circuit one, then stand on the left leg for the second set of balance bicep curls}.

Circuit One:

  1. Balance Bicep Curl
  2. Plank + Single Arm Tricep Kick {12 reps per arm}
  3. Single Leg Back Fly
  4. Inverted + Regular Push Up Combo

X 2 Sets

Circuit Two:

  1. Curl to Press + Knee Raise with Kick
  2. Tree Pose Overhead Tricep Kick {12 reps per arm}
  3. Side Plank + Single Arm Row to T {12 reps per arm}
  4. Push Ups

X 2 Sets

see video above for complete workout and proper exercise form.

Balance Bicep Curl

Plank + Single Arm Tricep Kick {12 reps per arm}

Single Leg Back Fly

Inverted + Regular Push Up Combo

Curl to Press + Knee Raise with Kick

Tree Pose Overhead Tricep Kick {12 reps per arm}

Side Plank + Single Arm Row to T {12 reps per arm}

Push Ups

If you like this workout, you’ll also love these 6 additional arm and ab exercises. Adding these two upper body and core workouts to your fitness routine 2-3 times a week is a great way to build and maintain lean upper body muscle.

the workout recap: arms + abs dumbbell workout

This arms + abs workout requires a set of medium dumbbells {5-to-20 lbs}. Complete 12 repetitions per exercise. Repeat circuit one x 2 sets before moving onto circuit two, which will also be repeated x 2 sets. Alternate your standing or balance leg on the second set of each circuit.

Circuit One:

  1. Balance Bicep Curl
  2. Plank + Single Arm Tricep Kick {12 reps per arm}
  3. Single Leg Back Fly
  4. Inverted + Regular Push Up Combo

X 2 Sets

Circuit Two:

  1. Curl to Press + Knee Raise with Kick
  2. Tree Pose Overhead Tricep Kick {12 reps per arm}
  3. Side Plank + Single Arm Row to T {12 reps per arm}
  4. Push Ups

X 2 Sets

ABS and arms workout

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