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Upper Body Exercises For Women

Medically reviewed by Karyn Eilber, MDAsma Khapra, MD, Susan Kerrigan, MD, and Marianne Madsen on March 18. 2023

Women have a tendency to gain weight in the abdominal and thigh regions and thus often concentrate on exercises for the lower body rather than their top half. However, in order to create an equally strengthened and toned figure, it’s to work on both the upper and lower body.  it’s best to work on both the upper and lower body to create an equally strengthened and toned figure.


Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to work out your upper body and develop tone and definition rather than sheer muscle mass. And you don’t even need weights! Here are some of the best upper body exercises for women, requiring minimal (or no) equipment, that will make you fitter and stronger. 


Resistance band bicep curls

For this exercise and the ones below, you’ll need something called a resistance band – a resilient piece of rubber that strengthens your muscles by acting as a weight.  Resistance bands come in several tiers of difficulty, often color-coded by the level of resistance they provide. They can be purchased from online retailers such as Amazon or found at your local sporting goods store. 


No matter if you’re using a pair of dumbbells or a stretchy band, you’ll feel the burn in your biceps after only a few sets of the notorious bicep curl. 


  1. To perform this exercise, place the band under your feet (make sure it’s not folded in half) and grab the two ends. Some bands have handles that make them easier to utilize.
  2. Then, holding both ends of the band, curl your arms up to your shoulders, squeezing your biceps as you curl. 
  3. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps.


Resistance band lat pull / pull-apart

Don’t put away your resistance band just yet: it’s time for the lat pull, which strengthens the back and shoulders, as well as your neck muscles. 


  1. Hold one end of the band in each hand and put your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. 
  2. Then, with your core tightened and your back muscles activated, pull each end of the band, spreading your arms apart, until you feel your arms, back and shoulders engaging.
  3. Try to do 3 sets of 10 reps. 

Resistance band lateral raise


The lateral raise is one of the most challenging resistance band exercises out there. It works your shoulders, specifically your deltoids. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Place the folded band under one of your feet and bring that leg forward. 
  2. Grab both ends of the band. 
  3. With your arms at your sides, raise them to shoulder height, then bring them back down for one rep. 
  4. Do 2 sets of 10. 

Resistance band row

At the gym, the row, which targets the upper back muscles, is typically done with a rowing machine. At home, a band will do the trick. 


  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and feet together. 
  2. Loop the band around your feet and grab each end. Your elbows should be by your sides. 
  3. Then, pull both ends of the band until your elbows are behind you and you feel a burn between your shoulder blades.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15. 

Mountain climbers


Mountain climbers work the shoulders, arms, chest, core, and back, making them one of the most versatile and effective upper-body exercises. And you don’t even need any equipment to perform them.


  1. Place both hands on the floor and extend your legs, as if preparing to do a push-up. 
  2. Touch your chest with your right knee, then bring it back and quickly do the same with your left knee. 
  3. Continue alternating in this manner for 30 seconds. Aim for 2 to 3 sets.



There’s a reason why the push-up is probably the most well-known upper body exercise. First of all, you can do them anywhere. Second of all, they work quite a few muscles, including the chest, the shoulders, the triceps, the abs, and the lats. And thirdly, they target these muscles in a very effective manner, so they’re good for beginners and hardcore fitness freaks alike. 


1. Place your hands on the floor and extend your legs.

2. Prop yourself up using your hands, resting on your toes. 

3. Keep your back flat. Your rear end should not be sagging.

4. Lower your body, attempting to touch the floor with your chest. 

5. Raise yourself back up. Repeat for 10 repetitions. Try doing 3 sets in total.


Written by Natan Rosenfeld

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