Join me today for this awesome upper body and core workout, where we’ll do some of my favorite arm-sculpting and core-strengthening moves!
Strength training, also known as resistance training, is an essential component of any fitness routine. Regularly working out the muscles in your arms, back, chest, and shoulders is vital to keeping your upper body strong and giving your muscles definition.
But the benefits of strength training extend far beyond toned, defined muscles.
Building strength in your upper body not only makes daily tasks easier to perform, but it also helps increase bone density and improve posture.
Today’s workout can be done anywhere, anytime, with just a few weighted objects. You can get creative here – I usually use dumbbells, but you can use just about anything with some weight to it like water bottles, laundry or water jugs.
Now join me, and let’s get super strong with these circuits!
One-off workouts are great, but having a plan to follow is even better! Take a 30-day Challenge in Rock Your Life and have workouts like this formatted into a plan to follow!
Upper Body and Core CircuitsClick to expand and see all workout move descriptions.
Equipment: Weighted Objects (water bottles, gallon jugs, dumbbells)
Format: Perform each move for the prescribed time and repetitions and repeat for 3 rounds.
Move 1: Pushup to Plank Jack (8-12)
- Begin in a tall plank position, with your hands stacked below your shoulders and your core engaged (no arched back).
- Perform a push-up by lowering yourself down to the ground keeping your elbows pointing behind you, back flat, core engaged, and spine neutral. Keep your gaze about 6 inches in front of you rather than looking up or down, to maintain a neutral spine.
- Bring yourself all the way down to the ground and while keeping your core engaged, press back up to your starting position.
- Once you’re back up in your all plank position, keeping your hips flat and jump both feet out laterally to land with your feet spread apart.
- Brace your core to jump your feet back in and repeat, starting with your push up.
- MOD: Place your hands on an elevated surface (chair, couch) and perform an incline pushup.
- Check out my Push-up Progression Tutorial for tips on perfecting form and building strength!
Move 2: Jump Rope (0:30)
- Begin in a standing position with bent elbows and hold your jump rope in your hands with the rope behind you. (If you don’t have a jump rope, hold your hands at a 90 degree angle from your elbows as if you did).
- Bend your knees and power off the balls of your feet while you loop the jump rope around your body and underneath your feet in a circular motion.
- As you land and jump, do so from the balls of your feet and in a relaxed position without tensing your shoulders or arms.
- MOD: Rather than jumping up and down, do a fast step touch, step touch in and out. Alternatively do calf raises in place – recommended to hold the wall or a chair back for balance.
Move 3: Bicycle Crunches (0:30)
- Begin lying on your back with your legs bent, feet on the ground pressed firmly against the floor and your core engaged.
- Bring your hands behind your head without pulling your head forward.
- Contract your abdominals by bringing your chest forward and rotating at the torso to bring your right elbow to your left knee.
- Slowly and gently lower yourself back toward the ground and repeat with your left elbow to right knee.
- Be sure your lower back stays in contact with the mat throughout this movement.
- MOD: Keep your knees bent and feet on the floor and just crunch your upper body.
Move 1: Biceps Curl to Arnold Press (8-12)
- Begin standing and holding your weighted objects with your palms facing you, pull your shoulder blades back and down with your core engaged.
- Keeping the upper arms stationary, curl the weights up to your shoulders ending with your palms facing you.
- From this position, press your arms up to a 90 degree position in front of you with your palms facing you.
- Externally rotate your arms out by pulling your shoulder blades together to end in a 90 degree position almost like a goal post (palms will face outward at this point) and then press your arms straight up over your head.
- Reverse the movement to end in the position you started in and repeat for each repetition.
Move 2: Mountain Climbers (0:30)
- Begin in a tall plank position with your shoulders stacked over your hands, core engaged, and back flat.
- Keeping your hips down, run your knees into your chest and back out by pulling each knee in as far as you can and then back out, one at a time.
- MOD: Do this move on an elevated surface by placing your hands on the edge of a couch or table.
Move 3: Triceps Dips (or Extensions) (8-12)
- Begin sitting on the edge of an elevated surface (box, chair or step) with your hands right next to your sides and facing forward.
- Keeping your hands on the box, shift yourself forward so you’re not sitting on the elevated surface but rather hovering right in front.
- Bend your knees and pull your shoulder blades down and back to engage between your shoulders. This will help keep your chest open and keep pressure off of your shoulders. The more you bend your knees, the easier this will be.
- Keeping your body close to the elevated surface, bend your elbows and slowly lower yourself down until your arms are close to 90 degrees, and then press back up to your starting position.
- MOD: Perform overhead triceps extensions by holding one weight overhead with both hands so your arms are straight overhead and slowly lower the weight behind your head by bending your elbows, being careful not to flare your elbows out too much.
Looking for some form tips and support for training your body for maximum results and minimum setbacks?
Check out my free Foundations of Functional Fitness series. Take a different 15-minute class each day for 2 weeks in this helpful tutorial series that will take you through upgrading your form on moves like squats, lunges, pushing and pulling moves, and so much more! Designed to be done alongside any workout program you’re already doing.
Move 1: Reverse Fly to Row (8-12)
- Stand with your core engaged, chest up, shoulders rolled back, and weights in hand.
- Hinge forward at the waist to be at 45 degrees, and engage between your shoulders, so they’re not rounding forward, allowing your dumbbells to hang beneath your chest and keeping your gaze neutral.
- Lift both arms out to the side, maintaining a slight bend in the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Return to center and perform a row by pulling the weights up to your sides while keeping your elbows close to the body and squeezing your back muscles.
- Return to the center again and repeat the fly to row sequence for the allotted time.
Move 2: High Knees (0:30)
- Begin standing with your core engaged and chest upright.
- Run your knees up toward your chest one at a time in a fast running motion, using your core to pull your legs up.
- MOD: Take the hop out and one at a time bring your knees to your chest, using your core to lead the movement.
Move 3: Superwoman Lift to Hold (0:30)
- Begin lying on your stomach with your arms and legs extended.
- Lift your legs and arms off the mat together, using your posterior chain.
- Hold this position for the allotted time, focusing on keeping your shoulders down and your arms lifted.
- MOD: Begin by isolating your upper body only, leaving your legs on the mat for stability. Perform several upper body isolated lifts. Then perform several lower body isolated lifts. Work on isolated upper and lower body lifts until you feel comfortable putting them together.
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