Tone Upper Body

tone upper body

Individuals strive to tone their upper bodies for a variety of reasons. Some individuals view bulging biceps as a mark of strength and desirable appearance, while others simply want to increase their ability to lift heavy objects or excel in a sport. This being said, it is important to always focus on developing your entire body to create a well balanced appearance and overall uniform symmetry.

However, many individuals choose to focus on and tone their upper body because it is often the section of the body where gains occur at the most rapid rate, and the gains are more apparent.

Whatever the reason for your decision to tone your upper body, this article is designed to provide you with some tips and exercises to accomplish your personal health and fitness goals.

Toning and building lean muscle mass on your upper body is not as simple as just performing strength training exercises relevant to the particular muscle group.

There are many factors that contribute to improving tone and increasing lean muscle mass in the chest, back, shoulders, arms and traps. Whenever you train muscles in your upper body, remember to work opposing muscles and keep your movements relatively controlled.

Developing tone and lean muscle mass in stages is one of the most effective ways to achieve long-term fitness goals. In other words, setting strength, body weight and muscle density gain milestones on a 1 to 3 month interval is an excellent approach to maintaining your workout schedule, achieving your personal fitness goals and maintaining a high level of motivation.

General Facts and Tips About Spot Toning

  • Spot toning a specific area for weight loss is actually not possible: When an individual exercises, their body will lose weight everywhere. However, as your body continues to shed excess body fat, certain areas will begin to slow in the amount of fat they lose.

  • The body determines where fat is eliminated: As an individual begins to lose weight, their body will determine the location where it will utilize fat stores and convert them to energy. As such, you can't burn fat directly from your abs, arms and chest simply by targeting those areas during exercise.

  • Prominent locations for the storage of fat: One of the first locations where noticeable gains in body fat can be seen is around the abdominals. Thereafter, body fat gains are typically observed in the thighs and hips.

  • Benefits of strength training: Strength training will increase an individual's metabolism, and hence the number of calories their body burns on a daily basis. In addition, strength training will tone the muscle that is being exercised and possibly even increase the lean muscle mass of the specific muscle. When spot training a specific part of your body, remember that resistance counts for more than just the number of repetitions. Therefore, 15 repetitions with high resistance will be far more valuable than performing 30-50 repetitions with moderate to low resistance.

  • The number of fat cells in a body are predetermined: When an individual loses body fat, they are not eliminating fat cells. The only way to decrease the number of fat cells in a body is through liposuction. In reality, the density of fat cells decreases as an individual loses weight. This is due to the body utilizing the fat stored within the fat cell as energy. Conversely, when an individual gains weight, their body does not manufacture more fat cells. Instead, it enlarges the ones that already exist. This fact is beneficial to understanding how toning works.

  • Always allow your muscles time to recover: It is important to always remember to allow your muscles the necessary time to recover before exercising them again. Virtually all muscle gains are obtained during rest, not during exercise. By not allowing your muscles the required time to recover, you will delay the achievement of your fitness goals and increase the risk of injury.

  • Combine global and targeted exercises: Many exercises work the triceps as a secondary muscle group. For instance, while flat barbell bench presses work the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor as the primary muscle groups, they also work the triceps. Combine these types of exercises with targeted triceps exercises to achieve even quicker results. Remember, fat loss is determined by the body and cannot be body area-specific. On the other hand, increasing lean muscle mass is a function of stressing the muscle through high-resistance exercises and protein intake.

Exercises to Tone Your Upper Body

female doing biceps curls

Remember that for successful toning and gains in lean muscle mass, weight training exercises must be combined with an all encompassing diet and exercise plan. For an individual to successfully tone their body and increase their lean muscle mass they must combine strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and a healthy, nutritionally balanced, calorie conscience diet.

By doing so, each individual will not only increase their probability of achieving their optimum body weight, but also their personal fitness goals and overall good health as well. Remember, losing body fat is the first step to toning a specific portion of the body. Finally, it is important to exhale on the hard portion of each of the exercises listed below (concentric) and inhale on the easy portion of the exercise (eccentric).

  1. Barbell Bench Press: Begin by lying on your back with your arms fully extended and gripping the barbell in your hands. Your arms should be in a straight line with your shoulders and your elbows slightly bent. Inhale as you lower the barbell to your chest and exhale as you push the barbell upwards towards the ceiling. It is important that you do not lock your elbows. Perform 5 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.

  2. Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes: Begin this exercise by lying flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, your arms fully extended towards the ceiling, and the dumbbells touching each other. Inhale as you lower both dumbbells with your arms at a 90 degree angle when compared to your body. Your elbows should be slightly bent and you should lower the dumbbells until they are both approximately even with your chest. Exhale and reverse the movement, elbows remaining slightly bent until the dumbbells touch over your chest. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

  3. Barbell Rows: Begin in a standing position with a barbell held at your waist. Bend at the waist until your upper body is parallel with the floor. Your arms should be fully extended down at your sides. Exhale and pull the barbell towards your mid-section slowly, then exhale as you lower the barbell to the starting position. Perform 5 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions.

  4. Wide Grip Pull-Ups: This exercise is simple in that you only need to use a pull-up bar. Stand in front of the pull-up bar with your hands spaced about 4 feet apart. Grab the bar and bend your knees to remove your feet from the floor. Exhale and pull yourself up until your chin just passes the bar. Inhale and slowly lower yourself back to your starting position. Perform 5 sets, each until failure.

  5. Seated Cable Rows: Begin by sitting on the cable row machine facing the front. Grasp the cable handle with your hands. Exhale, and while pulling your back straight, pull the cable towards your abdomen. Inhale and slowly return the cable to its starting position. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 repetitions.

  6. Seated Barbell Deltoids Military Presses: Begin in a seated position with a barbell held in both hands in front of your neck. Exhale and slowly raise the barbell above your head. Avoid locking your elbows when the barbell is fully raised. Inhale and slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position. Perform 5 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions.

  7. Standing Side Lateral Deltoids Raises: Begin in a standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. Your arms should be fully extended and your hands should be at your sides. Exhale and raise each of the dumbbells, while keeping your arms straight, away from your sides until your arms are slightly above parallel when compared to the ground. Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back to their starting position. Perform 5 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

  8. Barbell Biceps Curls: Begin in a standing position with your arms fully extended and the barbell in your hands at waist level. Exhale and slowly curl the barbell up towards your chest. Inhale and slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position. Remember to use your core muscles to support the lift and keep your back straight. Perform 5 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

  9. Seated Dumbbell Biceps Curls: Begin in a seated position with your arms fully extended and a dumbbell in each hand resting at your sides. Exhale and curl the dumbbells in front of you with your palms facing your body until the dumbbells are close to touching your shoulders. Exhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back to their starting position. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

  10. Straight Bar Push-Downs: Begin this exercise in a standing position facing the cable machine and grasping the bar with both hands, palms facing down. In this starting position, the bar should be at the same level as your neck and your elbows should be tight to your rib cage. Exhale and push the bar down to your upper thighs, or until your elbows are fully extended. Inhale and slowly return to your starting position. Perform 5 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

  11. Triceps Dips: Begin by sitting on a bench with your hands gripping the side of the bench, palms facing down. Fully extend your legs and place them on a second bench of the same height. Inhale and slowly lower yourself off the bench, and let your body drop slowly in front of the bench. Do not let your buttocks touch the floor. Exhale and push yourself back up (but not back into the chair) until your arms are fully extended. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

It is important to remember that in order to significantly tone and sculpt your body, and to increase your lean muscle tissue, you will need to regularly perform strength training exercises with a moderately heavy amount of weight and a reasonably low level of repetitions.

female working triceps

Spot training (exercising specific muscle groups) is an excellent form of strength training and is effective at increasing the tone and density of the muscles being exercised.

In addition, for individuals that want to perform a higher number of exercises per muscle group, consider grouping 2 or 3 muscle groups into a single workout.

Make sure to regularly incorporate a cardiovascular activity into your fitness routine along with a healthy and balanced diet to more rapidly achieve your personal fitness goals.

Finally, be sure to allow the muscle group that you exercise at least 24 to 48 hours to recover before exercising it again.