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Upper Body and Chest

By: Mike Kiely BA (hons) - Updated: 28 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Repetitions Chest Shoulders Tension

So much of the stress of modern life ends up clinging to the muscles of the upper body. Think of those rock-hard shoulders and neck after a hard day’s work at the computer. So exercising this area will not only provide better tone but it will give your muscles the opportunity to release all that tension. The chest area too, can suffer at the office desk, so exercise will help to promote better posture, leaving you looser and much happier come home time.

Let’s start with the chest area and two straight forward disciplines, the press and the press-up, one completed on the back, the other on the front. For the press, simply lie flat on the floor with your legs bent at the knees and the arms bent at the elbow in order that the palms are facing the ceiling. Then simply lift in a slow rhythmic straight line for 10 repetitions, then relax, let your arms come down by your side and breathe in a nice, controlled manner. The press-up can either be executed on your toes, or for those with a suspect back, on your knees with feet off the floor and crossed behind you. The hands should be a shoulders’ width apart. Then simply lower yourself slowly towards the floor without touching it with your nose, then up and repeat for five to 10 reps. Always remember that your arms and chest should be working, and don’t let your back take any of the strain.

Resistance on the Back of the Arms

The upper arms – biceps at the front, triceps at the back – can be worked using dips and curls. Dips can be executed using the front of a chair, but beginners’ should opt for simply sitting on the floor with knees bent. Then lower yourself towards the floor by bending the elbows before slowly drawing yourself back up again. You should feel the resistance on the back of the arms. For curls, stand up nice and straight, feet a shoulders’ width apart. Clench your fists loosely and let your arms hang three-quarters of the way to the hip, then slowly bring the fist up and level with your shoulder. Twenty reps should be ideal for starters.

Lateral Repetitions

Finally, to those tense shoulders. Start with lateral repetitions, palms resting against the side of the thighs, then raising both arms smoothly and slowly up to shoulder height. Forward movement involves arms to the side and palms facing backwards. Then raise your arms in front of you to a 90-degree angle.

All these exercises can be completed without the aid of a machine, but as you become more confident, the addition of some handweights will offer the increase in resistance that will take you to the next level. However, remember to develop at your own speed, and only complete the number of repetitions that your body can manage. This means pushing your muscle groups slightly further than they would like with causing too much stress; in short, dipping a toe outside their comfort zone. Repeating an exercise circuit at least three times a week and slowly building the amount of work will bring tangible results.

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