Tank Top Arms Superset Workout

Tank Top Arms Superset Workout

Okay, first off, what's up with this cold(er) weather in the Northeast?!  It's well into April - we should be outside in jackets, not winter coats!  But I promise that warmer weather is right around the corner (right?).  Tank tops and strapless dresses might not be in your regular wardrobe rotation yet, but that's no excuse not to work that upper body to debut once the temps turn up! 

Today's workout involves a pair of dumbbells and 4 different supersets all focusing on either the back or biceps, with some sneaky shoulder work in there too.  As described below, pick a heavy weight.  No 5-pounders here.  Go big.  Ladies, if you want sleek-yet-muscular arms for the summer, you have to pick up the heavy weights.  Remember, "heavy" is relative, so choose based on your own fitness ability.  Ready to get started?!

Tank Top Arms Superset Workout

Tank Top Arms Superset Workout

What You'll Need: a pair of heavy dumbbells for each exercise.  I suggest using a weight that allows you to do 15 reps of each exercise with moderate difficulty.  You don't want to completely fatigue out on the first set because you'll go through this workout 3 times total, but you do want to feel a good burn after last few reps in the first set. 
What You'll Do: go through all exercises 3 times total for the full workout, moving from one exercise to the next with breaks only between supersets if you need them.

Superset 1: 

15 Regular Push Ups - get into a push up position with a weight under each hand.  Keep your abs engaged and lower your chest to the floor performing 1 push up.  Keep your spine aligned and those hands planted under your shoulders.  Do 15 reps.

15 Lawnmowers (each side) - hold a single dumbbell in your left hand.  Keep your body in a lunge-like position with your left leg straight back behind you and right knee bent.  Rest the right elbow on your right knee, and hold the weight straight down so it's touching the floor.  From here, bring that weight up across your chest, turning your torso slightly to the left as the weight comes up, as if you're starting a lawnmower.  Bring the weight back down to the ground.  That's 1 rep.  Continue for 15 reps on one side, then switch.

Superset 2:

15 Slow-Up Fast-Down Curls - just like they sound, you're doing full bicep curls here, but bring the arms up slowly and down fast.  To help keep a cadence, count out a beat of 4 on the way up, and 2 on the way down.  Be careful when you go down to not just drop your arms as fast as you can.  That movement should still be controlled, and leave a bit of a bend in the elbows at the bottom.  Complete 15 curls.

15 Wide Hammer Curls - stand with a dumbbell end to end in each hand, palms facing away from you, elbows at your sides by your ribs.  From here, curl your arms up laterally, so you're bringing the weights out to the side and up towards your shoulders, keeping your palms facing away from you.  Do 15 curls.

Superset 3:

15 Alternating Push Up Rows - in a plank position with a weight in each hand (or near it), do 1 push up.  At the top of the push up, alternate rows on each arm while your body is in a plank (pull the weight straight up to your armpit).  Go back into another push up, and then another set of rows.  Each push up/2 row combo = 1 rep.  Do 15 reps.

15 Bent Over Rows - grab your dumbbells in a standing position, hinging forward slightly at the waist, keeping your back flat (no curvature either way), knees slightly bent, and arms hanging down straight with palms facing you.  From here, quickly lift the dumbbells so your upper arm is parallel to your body, and your shoulder blades come together.  Do 15 reps quickly.

Superset 4:

15 Fast-Up Slow-Down Curls - these are the reverse of the curls in Superset 2.  Bring them up fast (2-count), and down slow (4-count).  Really concentrate on lowering the weight slowly and keep it controlled.  Do 15 curls.

15 Concentration Curls (each arm) - kneel down in a lunge on your right leg, right elbow resting on your knee, left arm holding a dumbbell with that elbow resting on your right hand.  From here, do 15 biceps curls, concentrating on using only your biceps muscles to move the weight (meaning, no swinging of the arm or jerking your upper body to gain momentum).  Do 15 reps on the left, then switch to the right.

Remember to repeat these supersets 2 more times through for the complete workout!  Stay focused on getting those arms ready to bare this summer!

Outfit Details: Sonar capris & tank - Athleta

Readers: chat with me!  What are some of your favorite upper body exercises using dumbbells?  Do you ever do supersets in your fitness routine?  If so, how do you like them?  If not, do you think you'll incorporate them to improve strength?

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

Hi Everybody!  How are you all doing?  I'm back today with a great workout for you to try next time you need a good upper body burn.  Today's focus is back & biceps and we're using 2 pieces of equipment both separately and together: the stability ball (aka Swiss ball) and a set of dumbbells.  I love combining pieces of equipment like this, particularly the stability ball, because it forces your muscles to work harder - especially your abs - and it also forces your brain to really think about what movements you're doing.  Hooray for something different!  Ready to check it out and get those arms workin'?  Keep reading for the details!

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

What You'll Need: a stability ball and some medium-heavy dumbbells (I'd recommend 8-10lbs for beginners, and 12-15lbs for more advanced fitness levels).
What You'll Do: start with circuit 1 and go through the exercises in order, using the designated piece(s) of equipment.  Do each circuit 3 times through before moving onto the next.  Let's get started!

Circuit 1 (x 3): Stability Ball

1 | 10 Plank Walkouts to Push Up - start with the ball underneath your stomach, legs raised and hands flat on the floor holding your upper body up so you're balanced on the ball.  From here, walk your hands out until you've reached a plank position, keeping your abs tight and spine straight (easier = walk until your knees are on top of the ball; harder = walk out all the way so the tops of your feet are on it).  Once you've reached the plank, do 1 push up.  Then reverse the move to walk your hands back toward the ball, rolling your body back to start.  Do 10 total.

2 | 15 Prone Leg Lifts (on ball) - keep the ball under your stomach here, hands flat on the floor, chest lowered and feet lightly touching the floor.  From here, lift your legs up straight as high as you can, working your lower back and glutes.  Do 15 lifts.

3 | 20 Prone Ball Lifts (on floor) - lie face down on the floor holding the stability ball behind you on top of your lower back, arms straight.  From here, squeeze the ball between your hands and lift it up off your back while you lift your chest up off the floor.  Do 20 total.

4 | 20 Birddog Lifts - start with the ball underneath your stomach/hips again.  Raise your opposite arm and opposite leg up straight so they are parallel to the floor and hold that position for 5 seconds.  Lower back down and switch sides, holding for another 5 seconds.  Keep alternating sides for 20 reps.

Circuit 2 (x 3): Dumbbells

1 | 10 Alternating Renegade Rows - start in a high plank with your hands grasping the dumbbells, keeping them in line with your shoulders and abs engaged.  From here, alternate lifting the dumbbells up towards your armpit, using the muscles in your upper arms and back to do the work.  Remember to engage your abs to keep your hips square to the floor as you row.  Do 10 total (5 each side).

2 | Bicep Curls + Pulse + Hold (10/10/10 x 2) - in a standing position hold the dumbbells one in each hand and do 10 regular bicep curls keeping your elbows close to your ribs.  The immediately do 10 little pulses with your arms bent to 90˚, followed by a 10-second hold at 90˚.  Repeat that sequence twice.

3 | 15 Reverse Flyes - start in a standing position with a slight hinge forward at the hips and slight bend in the knee, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing behind you.  From here, keep your elbows out wide and pull the weights up as if you're trying to pinch your shoulder blades together.  Lower them back down to start.  Do 15 total.

4 | 15 Reverse Grip Bicep Curls - from a standing position holding a dumbbell in each hand, curl the weights up like a regular bicep curl, but reverse your grip so your palms face the floor (i.e. the backs of your hands are facing you as your arms come up).  Don't be surprised if these are slightly awkward and/or more challenging than your regular curl!  Do 15 total.

Circuit 3 (x 3): Stability Ball + Dumbbells

1 | 10 Weighted Back Extensions - start with your stomach on the ball holding 1 dumbbell close to your chest, toes planted on the floor with your feet out wide (wider = more base of support). From here, use the muscles in your back to lift your chest up off the ball.  Lower yourself back down slowly.  Do 10 total.

2 | 10 Concentration Curls (each arm) - start squatted or kneeling behind the ball, one arm holding a dumbbell and that elbow propped up on the other side of the ball.  From here, do a bicep curl on that arm, focusing on working your bicep and nothing else.  Do 10 on each arm.

3 | 10 Balanced Lawnmowers (each side) - ideally I'd like you to be in an incline forearm plank on the ball (either on your feet or your knees), balancing on one forearm, while the other arm holds 1 dumbbell at the side.  From here, pull the weight up toward your armpit and rotate slightly to work your back.  Do 10 lawnmowers on each arm.  Trainer Tip: if the plank balancing is too much, get rid of the stability ball, and do regular dumbbell lawnmowers from a lunge position.

4 | 10 Incline Bicep Curls - you're sitting on the ball with it under your lower back, knees bent, butt is down by your heels, holding a dumbbell in each hand, elbows resting on the ball.  From here do 10 bicep curls, moving only the lower half of your arm.

There you have it!  How do your arms feel?  Hopefully they're tired - in a good way - and maybe you've found some new uses for the stability ball, I hope!

Readers: chat with me!  Do you incorporate multiple pieces of equipment into your workouts like this?  What are your favorite stability ball and dumbbell exercises?  Have you tried any new workouts or classes since the new year?

Chest, Shoulders & Triceps Superset Workout

Today's workout is part of one I taught at my first Muscle Up class a week ago at Free Style Fitness & Yoga Center.  That class was an hour long, but this portion of the class had people sweating and working hard right from the beginning.  It's only 12 minutes (no breaks) with each exercise done for 1 minute.  You'll alternate between supersets of bodyweight and dumbbell exercises.  Ready to get movin'?

Chest, Shoulders & Triceps Superset Workout

Chest, Shoulders & Triceps Superset Workout

What You'll Need: a set of 10-15 lb dumbbells and a timer. 
What You'll Do: alternate between bodyweight exercises and dumbbell exercises, each lasting 1 minute (or in some cases, 30 seconds on each side).  Try not to rest between exercises.  Let's get to it!

Pair 1:

Wide/Regular/Narrow Push Ups (bodyweight) - start in a push up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.  Do 1 push up.  Now bring your hands in slightly closer together, and do 1 regular push up.  Then bring your hands even closer together and keeping your elbows by your ribs, do 1 push up.  Keep the pattern going (wide, regular, narrow, regular, wide) for 1 minute.  Trainer Tip: you can drop down to your knees at any point here, just remember to keep your hips down and think about lowering your chest to the floor.

Plank Rows w/ Opposite Hand Grab (1 dumbbell) - get into a high plank (push up position) with 1 dumbbell on the outside of your right hand.  Maintaining the plank position throughout, reach over with your left hand to grab the dumbbell and bring it to the left side.  Do 1 row on the left side.  Place the weight back on the floor, place your left hand on the inside of the weight, and repeat the motion on the other side, reaching over with your right hand this time.  Keep alternating opposite hand grab + row for 1 minute.

Pair 2:

Table Top Tricep Dips w/ Toe Touch (bodyweight) - start in a table top position with your heels dug into the ground, pelvis raised, hands under shoulders with fingers pointing towards feet.  From here do 1 tricep dip.  Once you push back up, raise the opposite leg and opposite arm to meet in the middle and touch your toes.  Place them back down on the floor.  Immediately do another tricep dip, and toe touch on the other side.  Keep alternating tricep dip + toe touch for 1 minute.

Kneeling Tricep Extensions (1 dumbbell) - start in an all 4's position with one dumbbell in your right hand.  Lift your arm up so your upper arm is parallel with your body, elbow bent holding the weight.  From here, keeping the upper part of your arm stationary, extend the weight back so your arm is straight, squeezing your tricep muscle at the top of the movement.  Bend your elbow again bringing the weight near your shoulder, but keeping that upper arm in the same position.  Keep going for 30 seconds on the right arm, then switch for 30 seconds on the left.

Pair 3:

Pike Knee Touch to Plank Reach (bodyweight) - start in a high plank position.  Slowly go back into a pike position reaching your right hand toward your left knee.  From here, in one smooth motion without letting that hand touch the floor, lower back down into a plank and reach that same arm out in front of you.  Keep alternating pike knee touch + plank reach with your right arm for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Supine Chest Flyes (dumbbells) - grab both dumbbells and lay down on your back, arms out in a "T" position holding the weights, knees bent with feet flat and pelvis raised.  From here, keep your arms straight and bring the weights up to meet in the middle over your chest.  Lower them back down (slowly!) to just above the floor and repeat that motion.  Keep it going for 1 minute.

Pair 4:

Side-Lying Tricep Push Ups (bodyweight) - lie on your right side, with your right arm crossed over your chest, and left arm over it with that hand placed on the floor near your shoulder.  Use your left arm to push your upper body up off the floor.  Try to get that arm as straight as you can (pushing all the way up).  Go for 30 seconds on the left arm, then switch for 30 seconds on the right arm.

Switch Grip Tricep Kickbacks (dumbbells) - stand up with a slight bend in your knees, hips hinged slightly forward, chest up.  Start by holding the weights with your palms facing forward and raise your behind you keeping them straight and squeezing your triceps.  Lower them back down slowly, and switch your grip by turning your hands so your palms now face behind you.  Do the same movement, raising your arms straight back behind you.  Alternate switching your grip after every raise and continue for 1 minute.

Pair 5:

Push Up to Alternating Side Plank (bodyweight) - start in a push up position and do 1 push up.  Immediately turn into a side plank on your left side and extend your right arm up.  Hold for 1 second, then return to push up position.  Do another push up and rotate onto your right side.  Keep alternating push up + side plank hold for 1 minute.  Trainer Tip: if the regular push up is too much, lower to your knees.  If you want more of a challenge, raise the top leg in your side plank.

Weight Swings (1 dumbbell) - just like kettlebell swings, but with a dumbbell.  Squat down swinging the dumbbell underneath you, keeping your chest up and gaze forward.  When you come up out of the squat, swing the dumbbell up to shoulder height (no higher).  Keep swinging quickly for 1 minute.

Pair 6:

Alternating Superman Arm Holds (bodyweight) - lie down on your stomach with your legs and arms extended out straight.  Lift your legs up off the ground and hold them in that position.  Your arms start out straight, raised off the ground with your hands pressing into each other.  Hold this position for 10 seconds.  Now keep your legs in the same position, and bring your arms behind your back, pressing your palms together and keeping your arms straight.  Hold that position for 10 seconds.  Keep alternating pressing your arms in front of you, then behind your back, for 1 minute.

Alternating Supine Chest Flyes w/ Leg Extension (dumbbells) - start on your back, knees bent to 90˚, arms raised straight above you holding the weights with palms facing each other.  Your arms are going to alternate single arm chest flyes.  So one arm stays up above you while the other lowers to the side and back up.  Keep the chest flyes going and every 15 seconds, you'll alternate holding your legs at 90˚, then out straight hovering over the floor, then back up to a 90˚ angle, then back out straight.  Keep going for 1 minute.

Whew!  Take a break and relax now - you're done with your upper body workout for the day. :)

Readers: chat with me!  What are your favorite exercises to work the chest, shoulders & tris?  Do you prefer bodyweight, dumbbells, or cable machines, or maybe a mix of all three?  How about supersets - do you use that style of strength training in your fitness routine?