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The Best Upper Body Exercises for Women

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Upper body exercises are crucial for woman, as this is one of the most difficult places for them to tone. Here are some basic but essential upper body exercises for women.

Push Ups

Push ups strengthen and tone the muscles of the arms, shoulders and chest; when done properly they can even tone the abdominals. You should add 10 to 20 push ups to your exercise routine for maximum effect. As you build stamina, increase the number of push ups you do each day slowly.

Most women have difficulty doing standard push ups, in which the body is held straight with the toes on the floor and the arms perform the pushing action. Modified push ups are easier for most women and provide the same benefits. Just put your weight on your knees instead of your feet.

Tricep Dips

Many women find that the back of the upper arm becomes flabby and presents a problem. You can target this problem area with tricep dips, and exercise that tones and strengthens the triceps.

Find a stable chair that will support your weight. Sit on it and place your hands palm down on either side of your hips. Then, use your arms to lift yourself off the chair and lower yourself toward the floor. You can hold yourself in this position for 20 to 30 seconds to build your tricep muscles. Then, lift yourself back up again.

Start with 10 to 20 repetitions a day and increase that number as you build strength. Remember, when you feel a burn in your muscles, that's a sign you're building new muscle tissue and increased strength.

Bicep Curls

You can perform bicep curls at home with a small set of dumbbells or, if you don't have any, you can use milk or soft drink bottles filled with water or sand. Sit with your spine erect and perform the bicep curls on one arm at a time. Lift and lower the weights slowly and with control. Lowering the weight is just as important to the exercise as lifting it is.

Do your bicep curls in conjunction with your tricep dips. That way, your arm muscles will be evenly exercised.

Dumbbell Raises

You can use your dumbbells to build shoulder strength, too. Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your dumbbells in your hands, at your sides. Bend your knees slightly as you slowly raise one arm; keep the palm facing down.

The raised arm should form a right angle with your body. Hold the arm up for 20 to 30 seconds, contracting the deltoid muscles as you do so. Then, bring the dumbbell back down to your side in a carefully controlled fashion. As you return your elevated arm to your side, begin to lift the other arm, so that it's coming up as the other one is coming down.

Repeat this exercise for 12 to 15 repetitions on each arm, increasing that number as you gain stamina.

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