6 Advanced Exercises for the Shoulders and Upper Back

| Fitness

Having strong arms as a mom is a requirement. Picking up kids, holding babies for hours on end, carrying loads of laundry and grocery bags – it’s a wonder they don’t fall off. Having strong, toned arms is not only functional, but sexy. This isn’t about bicep curls and pushups. These exercises will challenge the shoulders and upper back from a different angle, so try two to three reps at a time before you go all out.

>> Read more: Want a Stronger Upper Body? Do These 3 Moves Every Day

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Turkish Get Up: Begin by lying on your back with a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand. If the dumbbell is in your right hand, bend your right knee, but keep your foot on the ground. Lift the dumbbell straight over the shoulder and look at it. Keep your focus on the dumbbell the entire time. Read the step-by-step below, or click here for more details.

  • Step 1: Peel the right shoulder off the ground and lean into your left side by resting on your elbow.
  • Step 2: Push yourself up to a seated position and stabilize with your left hand on the floor.
  • Step 3: Put your weight into your right leg and swing the left leg underneath and behind you until you can rest the left knee on the floor in a lunge position.
  • Step 4: Stand up.
  • Step 5: Return to the lunge, then kick the leg back out with your hand on the floor, come down to your elbow and then rest the shoulder to the floor. 


Powell Raise: Lie on your side and rest your head in your hand. Stack your legs over top of each other and bend your knees. Using a light dumbbell in your free hand, read it straight out in front of you, in line with the shoulder and rest it on the floor. Raise the dumbbell up until it’s in line with your shoulder and lower it back down to tap the floor. The elbow stays soft. 

T-Raise: Use a resistance band and take one handle into each hand while stepping on the middle section of the band with one foot. It doesn’t matter which one. One foot will be about a step and a half in front of the other. Tuck your core in tight. With your palms facing downward and gripping the handles, stick them out to the side and raise them up to shoulder height. Avoid crunching the shoulders up to the ears. Use the core to stabilize, not the back. Click here for step-by-step directions!


Wall Walks or Shoulder Taps: If you’re feeling good about inverting or doing handstands, try this advanced version first: Lie on your belly with your feet together, touching the baseboards of a wall. Push up into a plank position and start to climb up the wall with your feet. As your feet get higher, you’ll need to move the hands closer to the wall. Try to walk your nose as close to the wall as possible.

To work up to this, put your feet on an elevated surface like a bench or your couch. Place your hands under the shoulders like you’re in a plank. Lift one hand to tap the opposite shoulder and switch. Click here for the reverse version of the elevated shoulder taps.

Seated Bent-Over Raises: Holding a dumbbell in either hand, sit down on a bench or your ottoman. Lean your chest over your thighs so they’re just touching each other. Bring the weights in front of your shins and open the arms out to the side until they’re at shoulder height. Close them again. Try not to press your chest into your thighs. If this is happening, use a lighter set of weights. The lower back should be slightly arched.

(Photo: bent over raise Photo Credit: Women's Health and Fitness)

Man Maker (Let’s be real: Mom Maker): This move is closely related to the renegade row. You’ll need a dumbbell in either hand. Begin in a plank position while holding the dumbbells, complete one push up and perform a row from the floor to the rib cage once on each side. Then jump your feet up so you’re in a squat and the dumbbells are just above your shoulders. Elbows should be up and in front of you. As you stand up out of the squat, press the dumbbells overhead. Bring them back to the shoulder height, drop them to your waist and bend toward the floor to get back into your plank position. That’s one rep.

>> Read more: Sculpting Workout for a Beautiful Back and Shoulders