Shape, tone and sculpt your upper body with these moves from online fitness coach Nicki Petitt.

Want to have shapely shoulders, a strong back and toned arms? This workout will shape and tone your upper body and can be done anywhere – all you need is one weight, a mat, some space around you and the motivation to train. 


  • Try three to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions, unless you are new to weight-training, in which case start with one to two sets.
  • Equipment needed: One kettlebell or one dumbbell and a mat.
  • Frequency: Perform this workout twice a week for a great upper body.


Good for the chest and shoulders 

  • Lying on the floor, with your feet flat, hold one weight with palms facing inwards, near to your chest.
  • Pushing your lower back into the ground and bracing your core, drive your arms up with the weight above your chest. 
  • Lower the weight and repeat. Tip: inhale on the lowering of the weight, exhale as you drive the weight up.

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Good for the upper body and core 

  • Start in a high plank position, with the shoulders directly over your wrists, back flat and core engaged. Keep the feet wide apart for stability. 
  • Place your dumbbell under your shoulders, ready to grasp in your hand. 
  • Row the dumbbell up to your body, with your elbow slightly higher than your torso. Slowly lower back to the ground. 
  • Alternate arms. Tip: keep a flat back and don’t rotate the hips.


Good for the chest, shoulders and triceps

  • Start in a high plank position with your hands close together. Lower your body, keeping your elbows tight to your core. Exhale on the push-up.
  • Moving your hands to the width of your workout mat, wide, lower your body, your elbows will fan out to the side.
  • Place one arm forward, one arm in original high plank position, perform one rep and switch staggered hands. Tip: brace your core throughout – don’t let the hips arch down to the floor. Press-ups can be challenging. To make the exercise easier, place your knees on the floor. 


Good for the back and shoulders 

  • Lying flat on the floor, stretch your arms above your head to form a Y position. 
  • Brace the core, squeeze your glutes, exhale and lift the chest slowly off the floor maintaining the Y, feet remain on the floor. Eyes looking at the floor, head maintaining alignment with thoracic spine.
  • Lying flat on the floor, take your arms out to the side to for a T position. 
  • Repeat as above. 
  • Lying flat on the floor, with arms out to the side, as you lift your chest off the floor, squeeze the shoulder blades together, pulling your elbows to your core to create the W shape. Tip: perform the move slowly, focusing on exhaling as you lift and inhaling on the lowering part of the exercise. 


Good for the core and shoulders

  • Kneel on the floor with the left leg forward and the right knee resting on the floor. 
  • Taking your dumbbell in your right hand, rest it on your shoulder. 
  • Stretch your left arm out at 90 degrees for balance. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes.
  • Drive the dumbbell upwards, exhaling. Tip: complete the reps and then switch sides.


Good for the posterior (rear) chain, shoulders and upper back 

  • Start in a standing position with the feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in both hands with your arms straight in the centre of your body. 
  • Brace the core and tuck your pelvis under. Leading with your elbows, row upwards taking your weight to chest height (like zipping up your jacket). 
  • Squeeze between your shoulder blades at the top of the row. Tip: keep the weight neat to your body – don’t lift the weight past your chin and maintain a flat back throughout. Resist arching your back as you row.


Good for the triceps and core

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, brace your core, tuck your pelvis under and lift a dumbbell overhead in two hands, palms facing inwards.
  • Slowly lower the weight behind your head, paying attention to keeping your elbows narrow, not allowing them to flare out to the side too much. Tip: once the forearms move beyond parallel to the floor, drive the weight back up to the starting point.


Good for the biceps and core

  • Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in both hands, with palms facing each other, arms straight in the centre of your body. 
  • With the thumbs leading, curl your weight from hips to chest and lower, keeping your elbows raised. 
  • Keep your weight neat to your body, maintain a strong stance throughout, resist arching your back as you curl.

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