Upper Bodyweight Workout for Women

There are three things new clients always say at their first session:

What exercise can I do to lose fat <here>? Specifically on back of arms or shoulder inserts.
I don’t want to get bulky from lifting weights.
I hate my stomach so I want to do a lot of ab exercises.

These statements always come up! They are obviously important topics to women in general and also misunderstood. Let’s clear the air:

  • You cannot spot-treat your fat loss.
  • You will not get ‘bulky’ from lifting weights unless you’re taking enhancements.
  • Abdominal exercises don’t actually burn calories.

Here’s what you can you do with training:

  • Eat clean, healthy foods in the right quantity for your goals and work all muscle groups under resistance consistently. Building lean muscle mass will reduce overall body fat percentage.
  • Explore what types of resistance training you like! Pilates, functional strength training, power lifting… the options are limitless. Try them all and pick whichever you like the best. None of them will make you ‘bulky’.
  • Yes core exercises are important and if you want a flat belly, you need to be incorporating HIIT training in addition to a balanced, healthy diet.


Do you really need more than a few pounds of resistance to gain a strong upper body and shapely shoulders? No. The following exercises target your arm muscles in addition to chest, back, shoulders and your entire core. Remember to always prepare with the correct pre-workout nutrition, warm up before you begin and stay hydrated throughout and after your workout. Now get ready to tighten, tone and firm your upper body!


On a suspension trainer like the TRX, begin with your feet hip width apart and hands on the neoprene handles. Lean back and walk your feet in so that your upper body is in an inclined position. With palms facing away from you and abs engaged, draw your arms straight up overhead creating an ‘I’ with your arms and slowly release down. Next bring your arms overhead a little wider in a ‘Y’ (like a cheerleading doing a hi-V) and release down. Finally pulling the back of your hands in line with your shoulders with straight arms to make a ‘T’ and release. Complete 6 of each for 3 sets.

TRX Hi-Low Row

In the same body position on the TRX, walk your feet in a little more. Palms face down and keep your core engaged. For your Hi Row, pull your elbows up high in line with your shoulders and squeeze your upper back together. For the Low Row, pull your elbows back past your rib cage and squeeze the middle of your back to engage. Alternate between your hi and low row for a total of 12-15 of each and repeat for 3 sets.

Plank Pushup with DB Front raise

Begin on your mat in a push-up position, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width with a dumbbell in each hand – abs engaged. (For beginners, modify by placing knees on the mat and only add weight if you feel safe.) Bend elbows and lower down into a push-up bringing your heart between your palms and push back up. Extend your left arm forward into a front raise and lower back down. Repeat your push-up and front raise on the right arm. Alternate for a total of 10-12 reps on each side.

Planking Single Arm Side Lateral Raise

Begin on your mat in a push-up position, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width with a dumbbell – abs engaged. (For beginners, modify by placing knees down on the mat and only add weight if you feel safe.) Extend your left arm all the way to the ceiling into a side lateral raise and lower back down. Let your gaze follow your working arm. Repeat on each side, alternating for a total of 10-12 reps on each side.

Pilates Boxing

Come to a kneeling or standing position. Feet or knees hip-width apart, knees slightly bent with a forward hinge in the waist. Put up your fists and get to punching! Raise your fists to your shoulders, keeping your elbows up and box your right hand forward. Bring your hands back to center and switch. Alternate boxing on each arm for 30 seconds. Keep those abs tight the whole time!

Lauren Rae
Dallas Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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