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Upper Body Exercises to Strengthen and Tone

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Looking for exercises to improve your upper body? Sabine Evans, a Fit Boxing instructor and fitness trainer at Columbia Association, will show us how to strengthen and tone our upper body!

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All photos by Bhawna Gupta. You can find more about TEMA Athletics on their website, Instagram, or Facebook.

Video production by Ivan Anhe of Ivan Anhe Productions. Ivan lives in the Washington DC metro area and enjoys creating videos documenting people’s lives and special moments. Follow him on Instagram or YouTube.

Sabine Evans is an instructor and trainer at Columbia Association. She is passionate about getting people involved in fitness. Her goal is to bring out the best in people and help take them to the next level. You can follow Sabine on InstagramFacebook, or on her website

Medical Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. This blog post and video are not intended to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise regimen for you. 

equipment used



Stability Ball

Boxing Gloves

Boxing Punch Mitts

upper body workout

Our second video series is on upper body workouts. If you missed the first one, it was on lower body exercises which you can find here.

Sabine suggests doing each of these exercises for 30 seconds and repeat for 3 rotations.

TRX Chest Press 

Grab the handles, keep your body in a straight line, and hands straight in front of you. Slowly lower yourself down (like doing a push up), bend at the elbows until your chest reaches handle level. Exhale as you push back up to starting position, and be sure to keep your core tight.

Dumbbell Chest Press on Stability Ball 

Grab a pair of dumbbells (start with 5 to 15 lbs). Position your mid-to-upper back on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor, and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Pull your abs tight. Hold the dumbbells by your chest, face palms forward, and press them straight up toward the ceiling. Lower the weights and repeat. Engage your abs to keep your body still.

Tricep Kickbacks

Take a pair of dumbbells, stand with your knees bent, and lean forward slightly at the waist. Keep your head, neck, and spine all in a straight line. Bend your arms at 90 degrees from elbow (your triceps should align with your torso). Engage your core and your triceps as you slowly extend your arm back in a straight line. Keep your arm in tight by your side and slowly bring back to starting position. The key is not to use momentum to swing it back and forth. Keep the tension and engage your core and triceps.

Bicep Curls 

Stand with a dumbbell in hand with arms to the side. Keep your elbows close to your body and turn the palms of your hands until they are facing forward. This will be your starting position. Keep the upper arms immobile, exhale, and curl the weights while you contract your biceps. Inhale as you bring back to starting position. Keep the pace slow and steady. Don’t use momentum to swing – let your biceps do the work.

Push-up on Dumbbells 

Place the dumbbells on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Start in a push-up position with hands on dumbbells (you may opt out on the dumbbells and just do regular pushups without them). Slowly lower your body, pause, then return to starting position. Stabilize your body throughout the exercise. Repeat. 

Triceps Push-ups on Knee

Start in a kneeling plank position with arms directly below shoulders and body in a straight line back to the knee. Slowly lower your chest to the floor, keep elbows close to your side. Engage your core, exhale, and slowly push back to starting position.

For a more challenging move, Start with a regular plank without kneeling.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Start with the dumbbells at the height of your shoulders, and face your palms forward. Keep your head up and face ahead. Slowly lift the dumbbells above your head until your arms are almost fully extended. Bring back slowly to starting position. Repeat.

Dumbbell Front to Lateral Raises 

Start with a dumbbell in each hand and at your side (palms facing the body). Stand straight with feet hip-distance apart. Engage your core and slowly lift weights out to sides (palms facing the floor) just below shoulder height, with elbows slightly bent. Pause for a second at the top of the movement, then slowly bring arms down. 

Next is to lift arms up at a 45-degree then back to starting position. Then lift up directly in front of shoulders, palms facing down — repeat cycle.

TRX Y-Deltoid Fly 

Stand and face the anchor point with your palms facing forward. Lean back, keep feet more upright (the further back you are, the more challenging to pull yourself back up), and keep your arms close to your side. As lean back and arms fully extended in a straight line, be sure to keep your head straight in line with your body and your shoulders back (don’t round your shoulders). Keep your body always in a straight line, never arching your back.

Next, pull yourself upward with your arms overhead into a “Y” position, maintaining tension on the suspension straps at all times. Lower your body back slowly to your starting point with straight arms and make sure to control the motion (engage your core). Repeat.

One-arm Dumbbell Row

Bend at your hips and place your knee and hand (same side) on the bench (or chair). Keep your torso parallel to the floor. Keep your other leg close to the bench and hold the dumbbell with the other hand. Let the dumbbell hang at arm’s length from your shoulders. Pull the dumbbell up, engage your back, and keep the elbow close to your body. Slowly lower your dumbbell and complete your reps, then switch sides.

Boxing Combination

This is a fun workout you and a partner can do from home! You may use a spar like the picture using boxing gloves and mitt or like the video do a series of combination boxing moves. Here’s a great explanation of the classic boxing drill of Jab, Cross, Hook, Upper Cut


  1. Thank You…
    I have been working out for many…many years…
    But still got a few pointers

    1. It’s nice to have my trainer there, so using her knowledge to share with everyone! Great to know you’re taking care of yourself! Keep it up!

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