Sculpt an enviable upper half with these “super” moves

Toned, strong arms are hot accessories during tank-top season but they’re just as key when you’re trying to bang out as many pushups as the chick next to you at boot camp.

Problem is, many women zero in on the “show-off” muscles like their biceps and triceps. “To create an evenly sculpted upper body, you have to work all the muscles in your chest, back, shoulders, arms, and core,” says Natalie Rado, a personal trainer in New York City.

Many women zero in on the “show-off” muscles like their biceps and triceps

Sounds like a lot to squeeze into one sweat session, but you can do it efficiently by using supersets (two moves done back-to-back without rest). This workout, created by Rado, pairs pushing and pulling exercises to make it even more effective: “This increases intensity and calorie burn,” she says. Plus, each move engages your core, so you’ll also sculpt your abs.

Starting with the first superset (1a and 1b), do eight to 15 reps of each exercise without resting in between. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, if needed, then repeat for a total of three sets. Immediately move on to the second superset (2a and 2b) and repeat the above pattern until you’ve done three sets. Use light weights (five to eight pounds) until you’re comfortable with the movements. You should feel the burn without losing form.

1a. Plank-up

Place your forearms on the floor, elbows under your shoulders, and extend your legs behind you (a). Keeping your back flat, straighten your right arm and place your palm flat on the floor, directly under your shoulder, then repeat with your left arm so you’re in a pushup position (b). Reverse the movement, lowering back onto your right forearm and then onto your left, to return to start. That’s one rep. Repeat, rising onto your left hand first; continue alternating.


1b. Combo shoulder raise

Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides with your right palm facing your body and your left palm facing forward (a). In one motion, raise your left arm to the side and your right arm straight in front of you, until both are in line with your shoulders (b). Pause, then lower back to start. That’s one rep. Switch sides and repeat, then continue alternating.

2a. Alternating shoulder press and twist

Hold dumbbells at shoulder height, elbows bent and palms facing you (a). Rotate your torso to the left as you press the dumbbell in your right hand at a slight angle over your head (b). Reverse to return to start, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.

Alternating shoulder press and twist

2b. Stability-ball turnover

Rest your upper back on a stability ball and hold one end of a dumbbell directly over your chest, arms straight, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor (a). Keeping your arms straight and core tight, slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head until your upper arms are parallel to the floor (b). Pause, then slowly raise the dumbbell back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

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