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The Best 20-Minute Upper-Body Workout For Women

Time: 20 minutes

Equipment: Pair of five- to 10-pound dumbbells, bench

Good for: Upper body

Instructions: Starting with the first move, complete as many reps as possible for 50 seconds while maintaining proper form. Then rest for 10 seconds as you prepare for the next exercise. Repeat this pattern through all six moves, then rest for one minute. Complete three rounds total.
Alternating Shoulder Press and Twist
How to: Hold dumbbells at shoulder height, elbows bent and palms facing you. Rotate your torso to the left as you press the dumbbell in your right hand at a slight angle over your head. Reverse to return to start, then repeat on the opposite side. That's one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Continue to the next move.

Quick Tip: As you push up, think about bringing your biceps toward your ears. Imagine you're doing the shot put with the dumbbells.


Kneeling Lateral to Front Raise
How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides and kneel on the ground. Bracing your core and keeping your arms straight, raise the weights out to the side until they are in line with your shoulders. Lower back to start, then bring the weights in front of your thighs; raise them in front of you to shoulder height, then return to start. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Continue to the next move.

Quick tip: Engage your glutes to keep your lower body stable as you move your upper body. Think about pulling your armpits down to stabilize them. 

Wide-Stance Pushup
How to: Place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor, then extend your legs behind you with your feet about three feet apart; your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Keeping your core tight, bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor. Press back to start. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Continue to the next move.

Quick tip: You can stay on your knees for this move—just make sure your core, glutes, and quads are engaged to get the benefits of the exercise.

Overhand Bent-Over Row
How to: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Bend forward from your hips to lower your chest toward the floor, arms hanging directly from your shoulders and palms facing toward body. Brace your core, then pull the weights toward your rib cage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pause, then lower back to start. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Continue to the next move.

Rear Lateral Raise
How to: Grab a pair of dumbbells and bend forward at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang straight down from your shoulders, palms facing each other. Without moving your torso, raise your arms straight out to the sides until they’re at shoulder height. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Complete as many reps as possible in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Continue to the next move.

Quick Tip: If you don't feel challenged with this move, increase the weight of your dumbbells.

Decline Shoulder Taps
How to: Place your hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor, then extend your legs behind you placing them on a step or bench. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Keeping your core tight and your hips parallel to the floor, raise your right hand and tap your left shoulder. Return to start, and repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating as quickly as possible for 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Return to first move. Complete three rounds total.

Quick tip: The wider you place your feet, the more stable your body will feel. Challenge yourself by moving your feet closer together.

But wait, there’s (lots) more! This is just one of the four workouts in Women's Health's 30-day fitness challenge. Each week, you’ll tackle four different workouts: lower body, upper body, total body, and abs. They all follow the same format (six moves, six minutes, three rounds), and use the same equipment that you see in this workout. The only thing that will change throughout the month is the strength you feel—and the results you see! Join our Facebook group for daily motivation, progress checks, and more!




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