To begin with, aim to do this upper-body workout, targeting your biceps, triceps and shoulders, two to three times a week, with a day’s break in between, working up to four times a week. For best results, also work at least 30 minutes of fat-burning cardio activity into each day, too. A brisk walk is a good place to start.
If you’ve never done strength training before, begin with a 1–3kg pair of dumbbells. Starting light helps you establish proper technique. Do 12–16 repetitions of each exercise to form one set. Take a minute’s break before completing another set. As it gets easier, increase the weight and number of sets, but be sure to keep good form and posture throughout. Now push it!
1. Overhead should press
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, tummy tight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows and raise dumbbells to shoulder height, palms facing in. Using a slow, controlled movement, raise the dumbbells up and in until they meet over your head. Lower back to shoulder level. That’s 1 rep. Do all 12–16 reps before moving on to the next exercise.
2. Tricep kickbacks
Still holding your dumbbells, stand with both knees bent, bending slightly forwards from the hips, spine neutral (not rounded). Extend one arm straight out behind you until it’s parallel with the ground. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to start position. That’s 1 rep. Do all 12–16 reps on one side before swapping to the other.
3. Bicep curls
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides with palms facing inwards. Work one arm at a time: keeping your elbow close to your body, slowly raise the dumbbell to shoulder height then lower again. Control it, don’t swing it! Do all reps before swapping arms.
4. Chair dips
Scoot your bottom to the very edge of a stable chair, with feet together, tummy in, hands gripping the sides. Slowly lower (dip) your body towards the floor with most of your weight on your arms. Hold for a count of 2, then push through the heels of your hands back to start position. That’s 1 rep.
5. Lateral raises
Start with your arms by your sides, elbows slightly bent and palms facing in. Raise dumbbells up and out to the side to shoulder height in a slow movement. Pause at the top and lower with control. Do 12–16 reps.
6. Upright rows
Hold the dumbbells together in front of you, resting near tops of your thighs, palms towards you. Keeping arms close to your body, raise dumbbells to chest level, bringing elbows out to the side. Lower with control. That’s 1 rep. Do 12–16.
7. Punch it out
Stand with your left foot in front of the other (if right-handed), feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Raise your lightly clenched fists to your chin. Keeping elbows up, punch left-right-left-right for a total of 40.
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