Back And Shoulder Workout Routine For Women

This upper body workout will help women build shoulder and back development and strength. It requires only a set of dumbbells.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Single Muscle Group
Bodyweight, Dumbbells

Workout Description

Pull upsMany times when a woman seems out of proportion, with a heavier bottom half, it is because she lacks upper body development.

I have found, in my weight training business, a shocking lack of upper body development in women.  In general it is, across the board, and not dependent on age.

Many women cannot perform one push up and most cannot perform even one pull up!

Women need upper body strength to function effectively in everyday life.  You need to carry things, pick up your kids, perform you job and be self reliant.

If you develop your upper body, not only will you have a more pleasing appearance but most important of all, you will be more capable of meeting the demands of work and family.

All you need to get started is a set of dumbbells.  Start with a size that feels heavy but that you are able to push up from you shoulders to overhead, usually 8-10 lb. to start.

If you are working out at a gym they will have various sizes.  If you are working out at home you can buy heavier sets as you make progress.

Workout Routine for Women
Back and Shoulders
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 12
Dumbbell Upright Row 3 12
Bent Over Dumbbell Row 3 12
Side Lateral Raise 3 6-10
Push Ups 3 Failure
Pull Ups 3 Failure

Workout Routine Notes

Shoulder Press. Start with dumbbells at shoulder level and push to overhead, return to starting position in a controlled manner.  If 3 sets are easy, you need more weight!

Upright Row. Begin with arms down, holding dumbbells in front of thighs and pull up to under chin, leading with the elbows.

Rows. Slightly bend over at waist, keeping back arch neutral, don’t round your back.  Let arms hang at sides toward floor.  Slowly draw elbows up toward ceiling and squeeze shoulder blades together.  Lower in a controlled manner to starting position.

Side Lateral Raise. Begin with arms at sides.  Slowly raise arms to the side until they reach shoulder height.  Then slowly lower to starting position.

Push Ups. If you can do push ups, do 3 sets to failure. If you are not able to perform push ups yet start developing a push by starting in the “knees on floor position” or try the “hands up” style by lying flat on floor and pushing yourself up and control your descent back to starting position on floor.

Pull Ups. Pull ups are  a key exercise for a shapely back and shoulders.  If you have access to a Graviton device you can start with that.  Or if you have a pull up bar you can do jumping pull ups by jumping to the bar and letting yourself down slowly.  You could also buy a strong rubber band (made for this use) to attach to bar.  The band assists you in doing pull ups when you place your foot in it and pull up with your arms.

If you have none of these options you can buy an exercise band and do pull downs by placing band over a door or other secure object.  Grasp the ends of the band while seated or kneeling beneath it with arms extended.  Pull with both arms until hands are lowered to shoulders.  Slowly extend arms back up to starting position.

If your children have a swing set you can use the cross brace to do seated pull ups.

Do not be afraid to increase weight as needed to continue to build strength.   Keep working on push ups and pull ups.  Sometimes it can take a year or more to develop a full push up or pull up in de-conditioned women but both exercises are crucial to achieving the shapely silhouette you desire.

About The Author
I am 59 but age is only a number. In 2012 I started my own gym. Classes are based on HIIT and CrossFit. I also teach “Biggest Loser Live Training.”

16 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 03/17/2014 - 10:35

Going to do this today...I cannot do a pull up. Is a lat pulldown an acceptable substitute?

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Posted Wed, 01/22/2014 - 14:23

I havent worked out in twoyrs i just barely started working out again i used to do a little kickboxing my goal is to get lean and toned muscle what workouts would you suggest and what foods are good for that

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Posted Mon, 12/16/2013 - 03:35

The reps for push up says 'failure'.. how many reps should I be aiming for?

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Posted Thu, 08/15/2013 - 20:52

You said that sometimes it takes a year to be able to do one pushup. Last year I did bicep curls, side and front lateral raises, and shoulder presses with a 2 pound filled water bottle plus 1 pound wrist weight while I walked my dog daily for about 1/2 - 1 hour each day. I noticed my biceps getting larger so I wondered if they were "real" muscles. I tried doing pushups and did 10 of them. What a surprise! I was 70 years old at the time.

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Posted Wed, 02/27/2013 - 22:57

Is this largely for upper back/shoulders or will those help w/ lower back too?

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Posted Wed, 02/13/2013 - 08:34

Do these back exercises help me get rid of round shoulders? I sit behind my office desk and work with computer at least 8 hours a day and feel that my shoulders are falling more and more everyday. I have added some exercises to my routine workout program to fix it but need some more interesting ones.

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Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 12:12

Strengthening your back should certainly help with your posture.

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Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 12:40
Holly Blumenberg

Yes, very important to everyone especially to those who have sedentary desk jobs requiring hours of looking down or at a computer screen.

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Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 12:44
Holly Blumenberg

the upright rows are great for strengthening your shoulders and neck. Holding your head up while working on a computer is like holding a bowling ball up with a Popsicle stick. That is a lot of pressure on your neck and shoulders!

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Posted Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:48

Looks like a great workout, but I have a question. I lift 3 days a week, but would like to add this to my routine. You have it listed for 2 days a week. Would you recommend doing this on my off days and not doing back work then? Or would I have to reconfigure my entire routine? Currently I use my off days for cardio and ab work.

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Posted Mon, 01/28/2013 - 22:50
Holly Blumenberg

It would depend on what your three lifting days consist of. You don't have to stick with a strict formula. You need variety. I would do this on your "back, shoulder" days. If you are doing full body or a three day split you could do it on a cardio day if you wanted to. Occasionally you can change it up and do this one day and later in the week just do a pull up-push up routine and when you advance to regular push ups you can start working on weighted push ups. Just don't be afraid to increase weight as you get stronger.

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Posted Mon, 12/10/2012 - 17:50
Patricia Brown

Thanks for the weight lifting exercises you have listed here. Since I can't do push-ups yet, I fall into that category although I feel I have a long ways to go both above the waist and below. I am counting on your program to get me where I need to be. I think you will be great for maintenance, too.

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Posted Tue, 12/11/2012 - 20:47
Holly Blumenberg

Patricia, You are making great progress! Keep up the god work!

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Posted Mon, 12/10/2012 - 16:38
Tracy Juhl

You go girl! Love your classes and i am very thankful for all you do! :)

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Posted Mon, 12/10/2012 - 22:06
Holly Blumenberg

Thanks Tracy, you're my rock star!

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Posted Tue, 12/11/2012 - 07:56
Holly Blumenberg

Thanks Tracy!