4 free weight exercises for the upper body


Woman holding dumbell

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In my book, YogaLean, “Lean Consciousness” is a state of mind that will help propel you toward weight loss and sustain your ideal weight when you get there. Achieving it, however, is not only about a regular yoga and meditation practice. You must venture beyond the gentle, peaceful realm of poses, meditation, and breathing to do exercise that challenges your stamina and refines and builds your strength.

Cardio exercises and weight training are essential in burning fat and keeping our muscles strong and toned. Yoga then helps us stretch, center, balance, and provide focus. When you combine cardio, weight training, and yoga, you create the perfect trinity package of true mind/body/spirit fitness that keeps us in "Lean Consciousness."

Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age, so anyone over the age of 30 really needs to start weight training. Weight training on a regular basis reduces the risk of injury, increases body confidence, and helps strengthen your body as a whole. It burns fat, creates definition, increases lean muscle mass, and burns calories more efficiently. It also increases metabolism by keeping more lean muscle tissue engaged and working.

I recommend at least two or three sessions of weight training a week. If you are consistent, you will see results!

A common question is: “Should I do free weights or machines? Which is better at building muscle?” The answer: both will build muscle, but free weights (dumbbells, barbells, cables) are better at doing it than specialized weight training machines. When we lift free weights, it takes greater effort and more muscle involvement to stabilize the weights. The effort of stabilizing the weights also gives the smaller “accessory muscles” a workout, along with the primary muscle doing most of the work. Even lifting the dumbbells off the floor or the barbells off the rack will require a wide range of balance and stabilizing muscle to work.

Free weights are better at stimulating muscles, and more muscle stimulus means faster results! They also allow you to be more creative, as long as you are aware of proper form and body mechanics. Muscles love spontaneity -- as does life! Not to mention, free weights are cheaper and easier to store in your home.