5 Best Exercises for Women to Build Upper Body Strength

Upper body strength training is essential for women. (Photo via Pexels/ Antoni Shkraba)
Upper body strength training is essential for women. (Photo via Pexels/ Antoni Shkraba)

If you want to build strength in your upper body, the best way to go about that is incorporate strength training into your daily fitness routine.

The upper body consists of several large and major muscles, like the biceps, back, shoulders, triceps, and chest. Strengthening these muscles helps improve overall body posture and also makes everyday tasks easier.

The best upper body exercises are compound workouts that hit multiple muscle groups at once. They include both push exercises for the triceps, chest, and shoulders, as well as pull exercises for the biceps and back.

Upper Body Strength Exercises

We’ve rounded up five of the best exercises for women to strengthen their upper body. These exercises can be done with just a few basic exercise tools. Here's a look at the five workouts:

1) Bicep Curl

The bicep curls are an amazing upper body exercise that targets the upper arm muscles, especially the biceps.


  • Start with the core engaged and feet kept hip-distance apart. Hold a dumbbell in both hands, and keep the palms facing away from you.
  • Keep your shoulder blades down and shoulders away from the ears.
  • Keeping the elbows straight and in front of you, curl the dumbbells up to shoulder height.
  • Slowly lower the weight back down to return to the starting position, and repeat.

2) Arnold Press

The Arnold press is another great upper body move that targets the shoulder muscles, especially the deltoids. This exercise can give you defined shoulders and also helps improve overall body posture.


  • Keeping your feet shoulder-distance apart, stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand in front of your face.
  • Engage your core, and slightly bend your knees as you squeeze your glutes to move your arms by turning your palms out. Make sure your elbows are parallel to your shoulders.
  • Move your arms overhead by pushing the dumbbells directly up and locking your elbows by your ears.
  • Lower the dumbbells down to the starting position, and rotate your palms back to their initial position.

3) Push-up

Push-ups are a classic exercise that targets the entire upper body muscles - shoulders, chest, biceps, back, abs, triceps, and core. It's one of the most productive ways to build strength and endurance.


  • Start the exercise by taking a high plank position.
  • Keep your legs straight and extended behind you, keeping the feet hip-distance apart.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can while maintaining a straight line from your head to toe. Keep your gaze in the front.
  • :ower your chest towards the floor as your elbows reach a few inches away from the body.
  • Once you're at the bottom of the position, push back up into a plank again to start the next rep.

4) Bent Over Lateral Raise

The bent over lateral raise is a great chest workout that helps develop strong and defined pecs. This exercise also targets the triceps and tones the upper back muscles.


  • Take a squat position, and bend as low as you can without bending your back.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and position your arms in front of you. Keep the weights facing each other and elbows slightly bent.
  • Lift your arms to the sides till they make a straight line with the shoulder muscles.
  • Lower your arms back down to the starting position, and repeat.

5) Renegade Row

A renegade rows helps sculpt the core muscles and also tone the arms. It's an intermediate to advanced level exercise that can be done with or without dumbbells and on knees to make it less difficult.


  • Take a push-up position with your hands, holding a dumbbell placed on the ground in front of you.
  • Grab the right dumbbell, and lift it while slowly twisting your body. Take the dumbbell back, and balance yourself on your left arm and leg.
  • Lower the dumbbell, and repeat the movement with your left arm.


For best results, make sure you include the aforementioned upper body exercises in your workout routine a few times per week. If you're new to these exercises, start with lighter weights and fewer reps initally. Gradually increase the pace of your workout as you gain strength and confidence.

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Edited by Bhargav
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