Kayla Itsines’ 10-Minute Express Upper Body Workout Is No Joke

Quick, but effective. - by Nikolina Ilic

by | Aug 25, 2021

This Express Upper Body Workout is inspired by Co-Founder and Sweat Trainer Kayla Itsines’ new HIIT Cardio & Abs program, and alternates the intensity of exercises as you move through the circuit, pairing an upper body strength exercise with a cardio exercise.

‘As a personal trainer, I want women to feel capable, strong and confident in all aspects of their lives. When it comes to working out, often women will gravitate towards a style of training they ‘think’ is suitable for them but women are so much stronger and more capable than they know,’ says Kayla of the new program.

The strength exercises in this workout are completed for reps and target your arms, upper back, shoulders and core. All you need for the workout is a pair of dumbbells and a mat. Select a weight that feels challenging so that the last few reps of your exercise are more difficult to complete.

Remember, completing each exercise with your best technique is a great way to ensure you gain the most benefit from your workout and remain injury.

 

 The Breakdown

Time: 10 minutes

Equipment: Mat and dumbbells

Good for: Arms, upper back, shoulders and core

Instructions: Follow along with Kayla for the entire workout

Select a weight that feels challenging so that the last few reps of your exercise are more difficult to complete.

Warm Up:

Sweat and Kayla recommend taking a few minutes to warm-up prior to working out. 3-5 minutes of cardio, such as jogging in place or skipping, will help increase your heart rate and help warm up your muscles for your session. When possible, Sweat and Kayla recommend following your cardio with dynamic stretches — such as leg swings and torso twists. This can help to increase your range of motion as well as help to reduce the risk of injury.

Cat Cow

Step 1

Start on all fours on a yoga mat. Ensure that your knees are below your hips and your hands are below your shoulders. Set your spine in a neutral position and draw your shoulder blades down and back.

Gently draw your ribs to your hips to engage your core. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Inhale. Lift your chin and allow your stomach to sink towards the floor. Create space between your shoulders and ears by drawing your shoulder blades down and back. This is called Cow.

Step 3

Exhale. Press your hands and knees into the mat, draw your chin to your chest and draw your stomach in to curl your spine. This is called Cat. Return to neutral spine and repeat for the specified amount of time.

Four-Point Thoracic Rotation

Step 1

Start on all fours ensuring that your knees are below your hips and your hands are below your shoulders. While maintaining a neutral spine and stabilising through your abdominals, place your right hand on the back of your head, drawing your shoulder blades down and back.

While keeping your lower body as still as possible, rotate your torso to bring your right elbow towards your left elbow. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Inhale. Slowly rotate your torso to open your chest and point your elbow towards the ceiling, or as far as you can while maintaining a neutral spine and keeping your lower body as still as possible. Hold this position for approximately three to five seconds, breathing deeply throughout.

Step 3

Exhale. Rotate your torso towards your left elbow to return to the starting position. Hold this position for approximately three to five seconds, breathing deeply throughout.

Complete half of the specified repetitions or amount of time on the same side, before completing the remaining repetitions or time on the other side.

X Plank

Step 1

Place both hands on the floor shoulder-width apart and both feet apart behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Brace your abdominals and maintain a neutral spine, ensuring that your hands are directly below your shoulders. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Inhale. While stabilising through your abdominals, elevate your hips and release your left hand to reach towards your right foot (or as far as you can).

Step 3

Exhale. Lower your hips and place your left hand on the mat to return to the starting position.

Step 4

Inhale. While stabilising through your abdominals, elevate your hips and release your right hand to reach towards your left foot (or as far as you can).

Step 5

Exhale. Lower your hips and place your right hand on the mat to return to the starting position. Continue alternating between left and right for the specified amount of repetitions. Each repetition is equivalent to one touch of your hand to your foot.

Breakdown

Curl and Press (DB) 30 seconds

Step 1

Holding a dumbbell in each hand in a neutral grip (palms facing inwards) with arms extended on either side of your body, plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Inhale. Bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells in towards your chest, ensuring that your elbows remain in close contact with the sides of your body.

Step 3

Exhale. Using the muscles in both your shoulders and arms, extend your elbows and press dumbbells up above your head, ensuring that arms are in line with your ears on either side of your head.

Step 4

Inhale. Extend your elbows to lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

Mountain climbers 30 seconds

Step 1

Place both hands on the yoga mat shoulder-width apart and both feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Gently draw your ribs to your hips to engage your core. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Keeping your left foot on the floor, bend your right knee and bring it in towards your chest.

Step 3

Extend your right leg to return to the starting position.

Step 4

Keeping your right foot on the floor, bend your left knee and bring it in towards your chest.

Step 5

Extend your left leg to return to the starting position. Continue alternating between right and left for the specified number of repetitions, inhaling for four mountain climbers and exhaling for four mountain climbers.

Plank rotation 30 seconds

Step 1

Start by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) firmly on the mat, ensuring that your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Your forearms should be crossed under your chest with your right fist in front of your left elbow and your left fist behind your right elbow.

Extend both legs behind you and elevate your hips off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet. Brace your abdominals and ensure that your spine remains in a neutral position. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Shift your weight to your left side, release your right forearm and extend your arm upwards. At the same time, turn your torso to facethe long edge of your mat, ensuring that you draw up through your obliques to keep your hips elevated.

Lower your right arm and untwist your torso to return to the starting position. You should feel tension in your shoulder and core throughout this movement.

Step 3

Repeat on the other side and continue alternating between sides for the specified number of repetitions or time. Maintain control of your breathing throughout.

Bent over rows 30 seconds

Step 1

Holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards), plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. While maintaining a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward from your hips so that your torso is parallel to the floor. Extend your arms directly below your chest. This is your starting position

Step 2

Inhale. Exhale. Bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells in towards your body, ensuring your elbows remain in close contact with the sides of your body. You should feel a small squeeze between your shoulder blades.

Step 3

Inhale. Extend your elbows to lower the dumbbells and return to the starting position. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

Push up into side plank 30 seconds

Step 1

Place both hands on the mat slightly further than shoulder-width apart, with feet apart on the mat behind you, while resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Inhale. While maintaining a straight back and stabilising through your abdominals, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the floor until your arms form two 90-degree angles.

Step 3

Exhale. Push through your chest and extend your elbows to lift your body back into the starting position. Release your right hand and extend your arm upwards. At the same time, turn your torso to face  the long edge of your mat, ensuring that you draw up through your obliques (abs along your sides) to keep your hips elevated.

Step 4

Inhale. Lower your right hand and untwist your torso to return to the starting position.

Step 5

While maintaining a straight back and stabilising through your abdominals, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the floor until your arms form two 90-degree angles.

Step 6

Exhale. Push through your chest and extend your elbows to lift your body back into the starting position. Release your left hand and extend your arm upwards. At the same time, turn your torso to face the long edge of your mat, ensuring that you draw up through your obliques (abs along your sides) to keep your hips elevated.

Step 7

Inhale. Lower your left hand and untwist your torso to return to the starting position. Continue alternating between right and left for the specified number of repetitions.

Alternating jackknife 30 seconds

Step 1

Start by lying on your back on a yoga mat with your arms extended above your head. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Inhale and brace your core. Exhale as you simultaneously raise your right leg and left hand off the floor to meet in the middle – slowly lifting your head, shoulder blades and torso off the floor, ensuring that your right shoulder remains pressed into the mat.

Repeat this on the opposite side and continue alternating for the specified number of repetitions.

Cool Down:

Sweat and Kayla recommend completing a cool down session after your workout. 3-5 minutes of walking will help to slowly lower your heart rate to normal levels and help your body to cool down after a workout. You might also like to complete some static stretching as part of your cool down, where you hold a single position for twenty seconds or longer. Static stretching works to lengthen your muscles with the aim of increasing your flexibility and range of motion. It can also help provide relief from any potential cramping and can help reduce soreness and risk of injury.

Lats (Side) Stretch

Step 1

Begin in a seated position with your legs crossed and your hands by your sides. This is your starting position.

Step 2

Inhale. Lengthen your spine to sit up tall and reach your right arm towards the ceiling.

Step 3

Exhale. Reach your right arm over to your left side to lengthen the right side of your body, ensuring that both glutes remain on the mat. Hold this position for the specified amount of time, breathing deeply throughout. Each time that you exhale, reach further over to your left side to increase the stretch. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Deltoid Stretch

Step 1

Release your right arm and bring it across your body. Release your left arm and place your hand on your right forearm, gently pulling it towards your chest. Avoid “shrugging” by drawing your shoulder blades down and back.

Step 2

Hold this position for the specified amount of time, breathing deeply throughout. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Pec Stretch

Step 1

Plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart. Bring your hands together behind your body and interlace your fingers. Gently extend your arms and pull your hands away from your body. This should cause your shoulders to retract and open up your chest. Hold this position for the specified amount of time, breathing deeply throughout

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