I know our abs and our buns seem to get all the attention when we are trying to strength train and tone. I do core work and squats as much as the next gal.

But do you know what’s really attractive on a woman?

What makes a halter dress or tank top really work?

Arms and upper back, baby.

upper back

I’m not sure why we tend to neglect these areas as women. I think some of it is that it’s easier at home to just throw in some sit-ups and squats. Arm work seems a little more unknown, especially if we don’t have weights or don’t feel like pumping out 50 push-ups.

I know these areas also don’t tend to be the places we “gain first”. We get really focused on what we perceive to be our troubled areas that we kind of forget about – or lose time for – our upper body.

I completely understand because I have been there myself.

I used to focus all of my time on cardio and leg exercises with some abs thrown in for good measure. I would run out of time for arms or really would just not quite know what to do to get a good strength routine in. I remember doing a few bicep curls and rows and calling it good.

Things changed when I started adding Pilates mat work and yoga to the mix.

I know it sounds strange, that these two “mind body” exercises would change my arms and upper back. But they did!

I started noticing definition in my shoulders and triceps that wasn’t there before. I saw pictures of my upper back and wondered where those muscles came from. I had clients asking what I was doing to tone these areas.

I wanted to figure out this mystery so that I could continue to see changes and help others do the same!

I realized the real difference is that I was doing weight bearing exercises through my arms. Don’t get me wrong, lifting weights is a great way to strengthen the upper body. I do BodyPump and some combination of weight work at least twice a week and love it. I include bicep curls, tricep presses, chest presses, deltoid raises, rows and lat pulls.

I think the X factor in upper body strengthening is adding some weight bearing work.

What I mean by that is finding ways to incorporate exercises that require you to hold your body weight in some way with your upper body. These include downward dog, planks, quadruped positions and tricep dips. While push-ups are included in this category and are a great functional and core exercises, don’t let that scare you! They are definitely not required for getting a great upper body and upper back workout (I do recommend getting out of your comfort zone to try a few, though. You might surprise yourself!)

Not only are strong arms and upper back muscles attractive, they are really important for our overall health and function in life! We are rounded forward most of the day at the office, on the computer, driving, cooking or texting. Strong upper back muscles help counteract this affect and keep our posture tall and help prevent headaches and shoulder injuries.

If you have to carry around briefcases, grocery bags or babies all day, you know how important arm strength is (seriously, those 30 pound toddlers are no joke).

I challenge you to really start loving on your upper body! For me it was the final push I needed into confidence in my body. There was something about seeing those first hints of shoulder muscles that made me WANT to lift more and do more. It’s very empowering as women to feel strong, and I think that’s an amazing feeling.

To help, I’ve put together a Pilates for Arms & Upper Back Workout you can easily do anytime of the day at home. This is a Pilates based mat workout that will help increase strength in your arms and upper back. This can be done every other day in combination with most other workouts you are already doing, or on it’s own! Remember to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine and stop if you have pain.

I’m exciting for you to give this workout a try! Let me know how it goes!

upper back

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