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If you don't have access to a pull-up bar at home or at a gym, use a swing set or other sturdy horizontal playground bar. This exercise does triple duty because it gives your biceps and shoulders a workout, too.

1. With your palms facing away from you, grasp the pull-up bar with your hands set just wider than your shoulders.

2. Exhale as you pull your body up until your elbows are bent and pointing down.

3. Inhale as you lower your body slowly. Repeat 8 to 10 times. This is 1 set.


Keep your abs (stomach muscles) gently pulled in to protect your lower back.

Try to keep still as you do this move. Don't let your body wriggle around.

If you aren't strong enough to lift your body yet, keep one foot on a sturdy chair for support.

Be patient. It may take you weeks of regular training to lift your body using your upper back strength. But every time you try, you are building strength. So, think about how exciting it will be when you achieve that goal and pull-up!

Don't hold your breath. Exhale through your mouth when you lift and inhale through your nose when you lower your body. This helps deliver oxygen to your muscles. It also helps you get into a rhythm, so you're not working too fast or too slow.



One-arm Row

Your arm muscles get some work with this one, too.

1. Hold a light weight (1 pound is probably plenty) in your right hand.

2. Place your left hand and lower left leg on a bench or sturdy, low table.

3. Keep your back flat (parallel to the floor), with your muscles pulled in gently to protect your back. Your right leg should be slightly bent. Extend your right arm toward the floor.

4. Bend your right elbow and exhale as you slowly lift the weight straight towards your right armpit (keep your elbow pointing toward the ceiling). Inhale as you slowly lower the weight. Repeat 8 to 10 times (1 set).


To protect your back, use a mirror or have a friend check that you're not arching your back or tilting to one side.

Concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you lift to make sure you work the upper back as well as the arm muscles.



Folded Reach

1. This stretch targets three muscle groups at once: your shoulders, upper back, and arms. Girls who do yoga call this one Child's Pose.

2. Sit on the floor with your legs folded underneath you.

3. Bend forward from the waist, lowering your upper body to the floor, face down, and arms stretched overhead.

4. Press your palms into the floor and gently pull your body away from your hands, until you feel a gentle stretch through your shoulders and upper back.




Related Links: biceps | butt/quads | calf | hamstrings | lower back | pecs | shoulders | thighs | triceps | upper back



Last Modified Date: 11/30/2000