Ultimate Upper Body Workout for Women

There is no denying the fact that a woman’s body is one of God’s greatest creations. I mean all those soft curves, exotic lines and elegant features stand out like the brush strokes on the Mona Lisa – a masterpiece unlike any other.

A true gift from God to (man)kind.

Now, with bikini season just around the corner, you’re probably looking to sharpen up those brush strokes a bit.

Well, to celebrate a day of appreciation for the woman’s body, Bloom to Fit has put together the ultimate upper body workout for women. If you’re looking to build, shape, and tone your ultimate upper body, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get to work.

This workout for women focuses on developing muscular balance, functional strength and ideal definition in the upper body. The exercises will challenge you in unique ways. Always remember to continue pushing yourself because most of your results will come when you are outside of your comfort zone.

The workout consists of two different sessions. You will alternate between Workout A and Workout B, leaving 2 days of rest between each workout.

Here are the exercises:

Workout A:

Exercise 1: Inverted push-up to row

Muscles worked: Biceps, back

This is one of my favorite exercises for targeting the biceps. I think of it as kind of my own unique variation because I’ve NEVER seen anyone doing this push up variation. You’ll need a set of light (5-10 lbs) dumbbells. Place the dumbbells with the handles angled 45 degrees to the outside. Grab the handles with your palms facing up towards your head.

Now perform a push up. Each time you come up, pull one of the dumbbells up to your chest, retract your shoulder  and squeeze your bicep (this is the ‘row’). Bring the dumbbell down to the same spot and perform another push up. Do the same thing for the other arm on your way up. Keep alternating the arm performing the row. Each push up is one repetition.

Focus on coming down slow and forcefully pushing up (with control). Aim for 2-3 seconds going down and 1 second coming up.

Perform: 4 sets of 10 repetitions (1min rest between sets)

Exercise 2: Alternating dumbbell chest press on stability ball

Muscles worked: Chest, shoulders, triceps, core

This exercise is great for building functional strength in the upper body. You will also be engaging your core each repetition as you force your body to balance and stabilize on the stability ball.

Grab a set of dumbbells (10-15lbs) and lie back on a stability ball. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor . Bring the weights to your chest and press them both up above your head, arms extended. Your palms should be facing forward (towards your feet). Lower the right dumbbell down to your chest and press it back up to the starting position. Do the same thing for the left side. That’s one repetition. Continue alternating arms throughout the set.

Always be in control of the weight. Aim for a 2 second lowering period and 1 second pressing period.

Perform: 4 sets of 12 repetitions (1min rest between sets)

Exercise 3: Lying tricep extension

Muscles worked: Triceps

This is an excellent exercise for building strong, defined arms. You’ll need a bench and a set of dumbbells (10-12 lbs).

Lie down on the bench face-up and bring both dumbbells straight up. Keep your arms fully extended and your palms facing each other. Slowly, without moving your upper arm, bring both dumbbells down to the side of your head by bending your elbow. Pause for a second and, again without any movement of the upper arm, bring the weights back up to the starting position. Remember to inhale as your bring the weights down and exhale on the way up.

Perform: 4 sets of 10 repetitions (1min rest between sets)

Exercise 4: Bent-over barbell row

Muscles worked: Upper and lower back, biceps

This exercise is great for building a strong, defined back. You’ll need a barbell (25-35lbs).

Grab the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width apart with a supinated grip (palms facing up). Note that in the picture the girl uses a pronated grip – I prefer to use a supinated grip to increase bicep engagement. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Sit back and don’t allow your knees go past your toes. Keep your upper body completely aligned (no spinal flexion) and at a 45 degree angle forward.

Bring the barbell up until it touches your abdomen. Retract your shoulders and squeeze and tighten your body. Lower the barbell down to starting position. That is one repetition. Remember to inhale as you bring the weight up and exhale as you bring the weight down.

Perform: 3 sets of 12 repetitions (1min rest between sets)

Workout B:

Exercise 1: Sliding push-up (wide)

Muscles worked: Chest, shoulders, triceps

This is definitely one of my favorite push up variations. It will help you blast through any plateau you may be going through.

Find a low-friction surface (carpet or hardwood floor works best). You’ll need something that can slide easily across that surface – paper often works well but a towel on a hardwood floor works good too. Start off in a regular push up position with your hands underneath your shoulders. Place the piece of paper under one of your hands. As you go down, slide the paper out so your hands are spread wide. As you push back up, slide the hand back underneath your shoulder. That is one repetition. Perform the same motion with the other arm.

Perform: 3 sets of 12 repetitions (1min rest between sets)

Exercise 2: Assisted pull-ups

Muscles worked: Back, biceps

This is the ultimate exercise for building a strong and defined back. For this exercise, you’ll need to find an assisted pull-up machine.

If you’ve never used the machine before, there are typically instructions on the equipment showing you how to set it up. Set the assisted weight to that which will allow you to perform the desired number of repetitions. It might take a few sets to figure out what this weight is. A rule of thumb – by the last repetition you should be struggling.

Lift yourself up, pause for a second and bring yourself down. That is one repetition. Then prepare for overwhelming compliments for your new back!

Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions (1min rest between sets)

Exercise 3: Arnold press

Muscles worked: Shoulders

Don’t let the name intimidate you. The exercise won’t leave you looking like Arnold, but it will give you the most incredible shoulders of your life.

Grab a set of dumbbells (10-15 lbs). Sit down on a bench that has lower back support. Bring the dumbbells to your shoulders with a pronated grip (palms facing away from you) and press them above your head. Then slowly bring them down to starting position. Next, immediately bring your elbows in as if they’re to touch and twist your forearms so your palms are facing you. Reverse this movement to bring the dumbbells back to original position. That is one repetition.

Be warned. This is a tough exercise. Start with a lighter weight if needed.

Perform: 3 sets of 8 repetitions (1min rest between sets)

Exercise 4: Plank to extension

Muscles worked: Core, triceps, shoulders

This is by far my favorite exercise to recommend to clients. It’s a complete upper body exercise that will leave your arms and core aching the next day.

Find a matt that you can lie on face down on your stomach. Bring yourself into plank position. Now, by extending one arm at a time, bring yourself up to where both arms are extended. Right away, bring yourself back down to a plank. Continue bringing your body up and down for a set period of time. Prepare for the burn!

Perform: 2 sets of 45 seconds (45s rest between sets)

There you have it – the ultimate upper body workout for women. Alternate between Workout A and Workout B with two days of rest in between each workout and prepare to see some incredible results within 4 weeks.

If you’re looking for a full-blown workout for women, I suggest you take a look at Visual Impact for Women program. This is the most complete program I’ve seen for developing that slim, feminine physique. It was created by my good friend Rusty Moore and I give it my best recommendation.

What are your thoughts on my ultimate upper body workout for women? What upper body exercises have given you best results? Share in the comments below.

30 thoughts on “Ultimate Upper Body Workout for Women”

  1. I am glad you have included a great upper body workout for women. It is often that I will hear women saying something like “I don’t want to get a big upper body.” What is important for any women to know is that in order to look great it is important to workout the entire body, not just the lower body.

    I definitely hope women out there take not of this workout and give it a try.


    1. That’s exactly the case, Sam. Girls seem to only focus on the lower body. I thought it would be a nice balance to put something together to target the upper body. The whole “I don’t want to get big” excuse (read: myth) needs a post of its own:) Thanks for the comment!

  2. I think for a lot of us women it’s hard to find the motivation after a really long day of work and taking care of our children. I know that is a poor excuse but sometimes you have no energy. I have to say though a lot of these exercises would be easy to do at home in the living room. I will definitely have to give them a try!

    1. Amy, lack of time and motivation are common excuses I get from my readers. It’s normal. We lead busy lifestyles and sometimes it’s simply hard to fit everything in.

      But don’t let this be a reason to quit. There are so many ways to stay in shape that take little time and can be done right at home. These exercises I listed are only the beginning. If you need any help putting something together, send me an email and I’ll help you out in any way I can 🙂

  3. Would you mind if I printed this? I am trying to put together a book of workout and nutrition info for myself. We are living with the loss of one income right now and a trainer and nutritionist is not in the cards. I am finding lots of free info available but it is difficult to keep it all straight. I began my bloomin’ journey a while ago, as you know. However, I have come across a little stumbling block. I am not fit yet but I am fit enough that the pointless wandering from machine to machine is not doing anything. At first any excercise was enough so I didn’t need a plan. Now, it feels like I am not even working out anymore which is very discouraging because I loved the feel good part of it and now it’s gone. Ugh!!! Hoping if I have an organized plan, I can focus on what I’m doing and improve it piece by piece. So, of course, I came to your site. Anyway, I’d like to include this plan in it’s entirety and any beginner tips you can toss would be great. As well as another reminder of how great the planks are. lol. Man, they are the one thing I can’t seem to motivate myself to do. I know they would be a great additional if I could get past the part where I am discouraged by the short time it takes me to literally fall on my face. Thanks for all your encouraging and informative posts!

    1. Hey Brenda! I really admire your dedication and persistence to change your life for the better. The journey to a fit and healthy life is not easy – it is going to be full of stumbling blocks. What you need to do is keep your eye on the prize. You really have to want it bad enough and I truly sense that you do.

      Without a doubt you can copy/print anything from this website for personal use. That’s what it’s designed for. But I would love to help you get an organized plan together. Email me and I’ll take some time to help you get your plans in order. I really want to see you succeed.

      Talk soon,

  4. A diagram for the first one would be hugely helpful! Does it start with an inverted push-up? The palms facing up thing is really confusing… Maybe I’m just not seeing it?

    1. Hey Blayne. Sorry for the confusion. I actually created a video of 48 different push up variations and I have one similar to what I’m trying to explain above.

      Here’s the link: http://www.bloomtofit.com/48-different-push-up-variations-video

      In the video, go to variation #12. That’s what I mean by the hand positions. The only thing you’ll want to add is the row (pulling the dumbbell towards your body) every time you push yourself up.

      I hope that helps.

  5. This is really amazing information thanks!
    I’m a new fan.
    I’m been started including weights in my workout and it’s made a huge difference. How many times a week would be good for an intermediate level? Do u receommend increasing weight 2 keep it challenging? Would have any tips on lower body workouts? Thanks in advance

    1. Hey Mel! Sorry for the late response. First of all, welcome on board! I got some great stuff for women coming up in the next few months so make sure you stay tuned 🙂

      Weights absolutely make a huge difference. Some of the women I work with do 3-4 days of weightlifting a week. I have them do heavier weights (than they’re used to) but at lower volumes (5-6 repetitions). Then I have them combine this with strategic cardio. This has given them some really good results.

      As for the lower body, make sure you check out the Ultimate Lower Body Workout for Women.

    1. Okay so I’m still a little confused on the inverted push-up to row. When I move my arm up to my chest is my palm coming towards my chest or am i pulling my arm back so my elbow is towards the ceiling?

      1. Hey Michelle, the rowing portion of the movement is simply just pulling the dumbbell towards your chest (basic rowing movement). The exercise looks like this one, only the dumbbells should be at the mentioned 45 degree angle. Let me know if that makes sense.

        1. I got it now. Thanks for replying so quickly I’m eager to try this workout at the gym. My old routine stop showing results and I wanted more of challenge. Great website!!

  6. Hi, Srdjan! I stumbled upon your website recently to find more exercises to supplement my workouts. I am also a bit confused about the Inverted Push-Up to Row. I watched the video, and # 12 push-up variation showed me how to have the hands. But in wanting to have good form (and not hurt myself!), I want to know if doing the row part is supposed to cause my body to slightly shift to one side (the arm that’s still on the ground). I don’t know as if anyone could hold essentially a one-arm push-up with a completely straight body, but I thought I’d ask. Thanks for the great resources!

    1. Hey Mindy, the idea with the push-up to row is to keep your shoulders straight and steady at all times (so your body should not be shifting). It’s a little difficult at first but that’s what you need to work your way up to. If you’re finding it difficult, do the exercise without any weights – kind of like a bodyweight version of a renegade row. That will help you build up the necessary core strength to do the push-up to row

  7. Hi Srdjan,

    This workout is so effective. I have been adding it to my cardio routine and have noticed a difference so I can attest to it.. I am struggling with a pear shape body, and this routine is really helping to balance out my body. Is it okay if I post it on my blog?

  8. I am familiar with the weight area, however not exactly comfortable surrounded by a bunch of guys, so to be honest I avoid it most the time. I am 30 and I’m sick of not being toned and I know the way to get there is thru the tunnel of musclemen… A week ago I googled an upper body workout to get me going and I came across your site. I have to say I’m in love. Over the week I did your Ultimate Upper and Lower for women and I’m definitely feeling it today. I love it. There is nothing more encouraging to me than feeling the burn the next day and knowing you’re doing something good for your health and fitness. Your words are entertaining and motivating. Thanks for the guidance!

  9. Love this workout! However, I have a lot of trouble with the sliding push-up so I’ve been substituting the alternating dumbbell chest press on stability ball on those days instead. Is that ok, or can you suggest an alternative exercise?

  10. Do you have a picture of the inverted push-up row? I think I am doing it correctly based on your description and the muscles that are working, but want to make sure.

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