6 Best Exercises for Women to Tone Their Upper Body

Upper body exercises enhances overall fitness. (Photo via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)
Upper body exercises enhance fitness. (Photo via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)

Upper body exercises are important for your overall fitness. Regularly training the arms, chest, shoulders, and back builds strength and tone, and also gives definition and shape to the muscles. Building strength in the upper body makes everyday tasks easier and also helps with posture.

Fortunately, there are several great upper body moves that can be performed daily to enhance overall strength and endurance. These workouts will hit your muscles in every possible way, making them stronger and better.

Exercises for Women to Improve Upper Body

Here are six most effective exercises for women to target theie shoulders, back, arms, and chest. They will also tone your muscles and boost fitness. Let's get started:

1) Seated Cable Row

Seated cable rows are a great gym-based upper body exercise that enhances strength and posture. This exercise targets the biceps, lats, wrist flexors, extensors, chest, shoulders, abs, and triceps. It's is done using a low-pulley row machine and a V bar.

Here’s how to do this exercise:

  • Sit tall on the machine, and keep your feet on the platform in front of you or on the crossbar. Make sure to keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Hold the V-bar handles tightly, and lean over as you extend your arms. Pull back till your torso gets at a 90-degree angle with your legs.
  • Make sure to keep your spine slightly curved and chest out as you pull the bar.
  • Keeping your torso straight, pull the handles till they touch your abs. Squeeze your back as you do that, and return to the starting position.
  • Complete three sets of eight reps.

2) Triceps Dip

The triceps dip is another effective exercise that works on the shoulders and triceps. You can do this exercise on a bench or a sturdy chair.

Here’s how to do a triceps dip:

  • Sit straight on a bench, and position your arms at your sides, with your feet on the floor. Keep your palms facing the floor beside your hips, and hold the front edges of the bench.
  • Slightly move your body off the bench while keeping your knees bent and glutes hovering over the floor. Make sure your arms are extended fully and support your bodyweight.
  • Maintaining this position, start to lower your body till your arms get to a 90-degree angle. Slowly push your body back up to the starting position while squeezing your triceps.
  • Complete two sets of eight reps.

3) Plank with Arm Curl

A plank with arm curls is an amazing upper body exercise that’s isotonic and isometric. This exercise works wonders on the core and also strengthens the biceps.

Here’s how to do a plank with arm curls:

  • Start the exercise in a plank position, with your abs tight and back stable. Keep two dumbbells right in front of your arms, and grab one in each hand.
  • Position your toes on the floor behind you to maintain proper balance.
  • Use one arm to balance yourself in the plank position, and use the other to do a bicep curl.
  • Alternate sides, and repeat the exercise.
  • Complete ten reps.

4) Two-arm Dumbbell Row

The two-arm dumbbell row targets the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and back muscles.

Here’s how to do this exercise:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand straight with feet positioned shoulder-width apart.
  • Slightly bend your knees, and move your torso forward by hinging at your waist.
  • Make sure your arms are extended in the front, with the dumbbells towards your knees. Your core muscles should be engaged and tight throughout the exercise.
  • Keeping your torso steady and engaging your back muscles, slowly bend your arms, and pull the weights up towards your side tillthey reach your ribcage.
  • Lower the dumbbells to the starting position, and repeat ten more times.
  • Complete at least two sets.

5) Incline Push-up

This upper body exercise might seem challenging if you are a beginner, but it works great on your upper body muscles. You can do this exercise using a bench, smith machine, squat rack or a high box.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Take a standard push-up position. Keep your hands on the edge of a bench at shoulder width distance and legs extended behind with your toes flexed.
  • Make sure to keep your spine in a neutral position and chin properly tucked in.
  • Slowly flex your elbow, and lower down your body till your elbows come out about 30 degrees as you do that.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat.
  • Start with 5-8 reps. Lower the incline, and increase your reps.

6) Triceps Extension

The triceps extension targets the triceps muscles and also works on the upper back and biceps.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand tall with your abs tight and a dumbbell or kettlebell in your hand.
  • Hold the weight with both hands, and lift it straight over your head. Slowly and at a controlled pace, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells behind your head.
  • Return the dumbbell to the starting position by extending your elbows straight. Repeat.
  • Complete ten reps.


When you start with the aforementioned upper body exercises, your focus must be on your technique and posture rather than on completing your sets. As you become stronger and build endurance, you can begin to do more sets and increase the weight.

To stay safe and prevent injury, always remember to engage your core while performing these exercises. If you're a beginner, work under a fitness trainer to ensure you're doing the workouts correctly.

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Edited by Bhargav
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