Exercise your upper body for a change with these six simple shoulder shapers.
Your thighs may be great. Your butt, too. But even though striding, sweat flying, through the neighborhood does wonders for your lower body, the effort’s all but lost above your waist. To tone your upper back, arms, and shoulders, you have to do more than walk — but, to be honest, not all that much more. Just these six exercises, 2 or 3 days a week.
1. Modified bent-over row
Stand facing a chair or bench with a light dumbbell in your right hand. Bend at your hips, place your left hand on the furniture for support, and let your right arm hang straight. Keep your back flat. Slowly lift the weight to your torso by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat 8 to 10 times, then switch arms.
2. Pushup plus
Do a pushup, resting your weight on either your knees or your toes. But at the top of the move, when your arms are fully extended, lift yourself up a bit more by rounding your upper back. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
3. Reverse fly
Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, lie face down on the floor with a pillow under your chest. Stretch your arms straight out from your sides, then squeeze your shoulder blades, slowly lifting your arms a few inches off the floor. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Lift your shoulders toward your ears. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
5. Shoulder stretch
Stand against a wall or lie on the floor on your back. Bring your right arm across your chest and grab your right elbow with your left hand, slowly pulling your right arm to your left side until you feel a gentle stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds, then relax. Repeat 3 or 4 times, then switch arms.
6. Prayer stretch
Kneel on a rug or mat in front of a chair and place your elbows on the seat with your palms together. Then slowly sit back toward your heels, dropping your chest below the seat and allowing your head to bow forward until you feel a gentle stretch under your shoulder blades. Hold for about 20 seconds. Repeat 3 or 4 times.