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HOW TO GET A BODY LIKE JESSICA ALBA: ARMS AND SHOULDERS WORKOUT

Jessica Alba is known for her toned, well-rounded physique, especially her shoulders and arms.

We often hear from our female clients that they want to avoid looking ‘bulky’ or bigger.

The good news? Lifting weights won’t make you the next Ms Olympia when combined with the right diet strategy.

We have helped countless women achieve the body of their dreams using our tried-and-tested weight training method and, ladies, you needn’t be scared of lifting heavy!

This workout has a strong focus on exemplifying Jessica’s toned shoulders and arms. The key to Jessica’s confident aura? Great posture!

That’s why this plan is balanced with staple posterior chain exercises to help develop a great all-round physique.

Why This Workout Works

Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

This exercise has the elbow abducted to 45-degrees so it will add more of a focus to the upper back musculature, to emulate Jessica’s toned upper body look.

Seated Pin Press

This version of a barbell shoulder press keeps you stable and able to push hard on the weights without fear of failure. Moving from a dead stop on pins means that you can go hard without needing a spotter and keeps the range of motion consistent.

Neutral Grip Cable Pulldown

Jessica’s toned physique is all down to her great posture, which exudes power and confidence. The key? Maintaining great upper back mobility and strength.

This could also work equally well with a neutral-grip cable row. This vertical pulling motion targets all the musculature of the upper back and helps create a toned look perfect for red-carpet worthy backless dresses to show off all your hard work.

45-Degree Dumbbell Chest Press

When selecting pressing exercises for female clients, we typically favour a high-incline press to emphasise the anterior deltoids (as many women aren’t concerned with developing a bigger chest). This also means that on leaner females, you will retain some tissue in this area so that the upper body remains looking lean and toned rather than gaunt.

Triceps Extension

Triceps make up approximately two thirds of the up arm musculature, and the triceps extension is an excellent exercise to isolate this muscle group and add some extra volume to training.

Dumbbell Biceps Curl

No arm workout would be complete without biceps! However, as this isn’t a big priority for many females, this workout only includes one single-joint exercise targeting the biceps, which should be plenty for most females to bring up this target area.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The dumbbell lateral raise targets the medial portion of the deltoids, to give the ‘capped’ look on the shoulders and create the illusion of Jessica’s small waist and hourglass figure without looking bulky.

Cable Reverse Fly

This exercise targets the posterior deltoid to help develop a ‘capped’ look on the shoulder. This has the added benefit of creating the illusion of an emphasised hourglass figure and helps maintain healthy shoulder joints!

Battle Rope Intervals

Targeting the shoulders, abs and lower body, this ‘metcon’ finisher will give you an unmistakable shoulder burn and burn some extra calories!

The Workout

How to Perform the Exercises

This guide is aimed at trainees with a good knowledge of the exercises and how to train safely and effectively.

If you are unsure and want access to training programmes, nutrition information and over 250+ demonstration videos, sign up for LiveUP online coaching today or consult a qualified PT.

The Set-Up 

  • Select your dumbbells and place them on the floor at the head of the bench.
  • Lie face down on the bench, making sure that your chin clears the top edge.
  • Bend your legs and drive your feet into the floor.
  • Pick up the dumbbells one at a time and let your arms hang fully extended by your sides, with your palms facing inwards.
  • Press your hips into the bench, lift your chest up slightly and look at the floor just in front of you.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Initiate the movement by pinching the shoulder blades together.
  • Keep the elbows pointed out at a 45-degree angle.
  • You have reached the end of your range of motion when your elbows cannot travel any further back without the shoulders rotating inwards and the upper back rounding. The elbows should not move past the front of your shoulders.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting the upper back.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

The Set-Up 

  • Set up the bench in the middle of a rack with the pins set to just slightly above the bottom of your range of motion at the shoulder.
  • The range of motion is determined by how far you can lower your arms before the shoulder rounds.
  • Set the angle of the bench to 80 degrees (one or two notches back) so that you are able to keep the ribcage tucked throughout.

The Movement

  • From the stacked position at the top, “pull” the barbell down towards your chest with the arms at an angle of 45-60 degrees to your torso.
  • Come to a dead stop on the pins at the bottom of the movement (just above the bottom of your range of motion).
  • Pause before reversing the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Pause again before repeating for the desired number of reps.
  • On the last rep, lower the barbell to the pins.

Trainer Tips

  • Ensure that you do not ‘shrug’ the weight up at the top. This reduces shoulder stability and increases the risk of injury. Focus on keeping the shoulder blades tucked down throughout.

The Set-Up 

  • Grip the cable attachment with a neutral grip and sit down on the bench with your upper thighs securely positioned under the padding.
  • Sit up as tall as possible (keeping the ribcage tucked), with your arms fully extended above your head but avoid shrugging your shoulders up to your ears.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Keeping your torso still, initiate the movement by dropping your shoulder blades down into your back pockets (closing the gap between your armpit and your hips). Think ‘taking the elevator down’ not ‘pinching’ when it comes to the shoulder blades.
  • Draw the elbow downwards vertically (not backwards), maintaining the same torso position and high chest throughout.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when your elbows cannot travel any further without your shoulders rotating inwards and upper back rounding.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting the lats by squeezing your elbows into your sides.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Imagine you are taking your shoulder blades up and down like an elevator; allow them to move through their full range of motion rather than yanking the bar with your arms.
  • Avoid using cable attachments that are narrower than your shoulders as this can restrict your range-of-motion.
  • Use lifting straps to avoid grip becoming a limiting factor in the movement.
  • Watch how far the weight stack travels on each rep as a reference point for your range-of-motion. If this shortens significantly between the first and last rep, the weight is too heavy.
  • The arm muscles will contribute to this movement, but they should not be doing all the work. Focus on drawing the weight down using the back only; the arms should simply assist in the movement.

The Set-Up 

  • Pick up the dumbbell using a neutral grip and sit on the bench with them resting on your thighs, close to your hip crease.
  • Position your feet shoulder-width apart, under or behind your knees and flat on the floor.
  • Lean back against the bench, using your thighs to help get the dumbbells into position, level with your chest and then up to a stacked position, with the wrist, elbow and shoulder all aligned.
  • Point your chest upwards (but keep the ribcage tucked down) towards the ceiling and tuck your shoulder blades down into your back pockets.
  • Your shoulders and glutes should be touching the bench, and there will be a small gap between your lower can and the bench.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • From the stacked position at the top, “pull” the dumbbells down towards your chest with the arms at an angle of 45-60 degrees to your torso.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you can no longer lower the dumbbells without the shoulder rounding forwards.
  • Pause before reversing the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Pause again before repeating for the desired number of reps.
  • On the last rep, lower the dumbbells to your chest, tuck your elbows in and sit forwards using your legs to generate momentum. You can also ask a training partner to take one dumbbell from you at a time.

Trainer Tips

  • Make sure that the dumbbells do not clang together at the top of the movement.
  • Ensure that you do not ‘shrug’ the weight up at the top. This reduces shoulder stability and increases the risk of injury. Focus on keeping the shoulder blades tucked down throughout.

The Set-Up 

  • Sit on a bench wide enough to support your upper back and not so tall you cannot keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Pick up the dumbbells and lie back on the bench using your thighs to help get the dumbbells into position. Have the dumbbells level with your chest, then fully extend your arms overhead.
  • Point your chest up to the ceiling and pinch your shoulder blades back together.
  • Your shoulders, glutes and head should be touching the bench.
  • This is the start and end position.

The Movement

  • Keeping your upper arms still, slowly lower the dumbbells towards your shoulders by bending at the elbows.
  • Pause for a moment before reversing the motion under control, back to the starting position.
  • Make sure to move through the fullest range possible, fully bending your elbows.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your elbows tucked in throughout the movement to avoid them flaring out.
  • Always choose a weight that you can comfortably do and then work up from there slowly increasing the resistance.
  • Keep your upper arms still, the only movement should be coming from your forearms.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor to make sure you are stable.

The Set-Up

  • Pick up the dumbbells and sit on the bench.
  • Let your arms hang by your sides and hold the dumbbells with either an underhand or neutral grip.
  • Point your chest up and pinch your shoulder blades back together.
  • Position your elbows directly below your shoulders.
  • This is the start and finish position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders.
  • Keep your upper arms still and wrists straight throughout the movement.
  • You have reached the end of your range of motion when you cannot move any further without your shoulders or elbows pulling forwards.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting (squeezing) your biceps).
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your upper arms still and elbows fixed below your shoulders to keep maximal tension on your biceps.
  • Focus on curling your little finger up towards the ceiling to help create a more intense contraction.
  • Single-joint exercises like the dumbbell biceps curl require less full-body effort than multi-joint exercises and it can be tempting to cut short your rest period. Make sure you stick to the recommended rest interval to give your muscles time to recover and maintain performance levels.

The Set-Up

  • Perform this exercise with your chest supported on a bench. This allows you to maintain a stable position and focus on the movement. Use the closest setting if the bench does not allow you to set it to a 75-degree setting.
  • Pick up the dumbbells, straddle the bench and lean into it so that your torso angle matches the bench angle.
  • Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip and let your arms hang just outside of your thighs (to maintain a slight level of tension throughout) with a small bend in your elbows.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • Push the dumbbells out to your sides while keeping your shoulders depressed. Your elbows should travel just in front of your shoulders.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot lift the dumbbells any higher without your shoulders shrugging upwards.
  • Pause for a moment before reversing the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer Tips

  • Do not use momentum to ‘swing’ the weight upwards. Keep control of the dumbbells at all times.
  • Keep your little finger slightly higher than your thumb throughout the movement to keep maximal tension on your medial deltoid.
  • If you cannot pause briefly at the top and bottom of the rep, the load is too heavy.
  • Single-joint exercises like the lateral raise require less effort than multi-joint movements but make sure to stick to the prescribed rest period to ensure you can maintain performance.
  • This is a complex exercise so start light and only increase the load when you are happy with your technique. Use a mirror to monitor your form.

The Set-Up

  • Perform this exercise with your chest supported on a bench. This allows you to maintain a stable position and focus on the movement. Use the closest setting if the bench does not allow you to set it to a 75-degree setting.
  • Take the cables at the attachment and hold the arms at shoulder-width apart, keeping some tension on the cables.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The Movement

  • From the start position and keeping the arms straight, pull your hands apart to create a ‘T’ shape.
  • Avoid overly squeezing the shoulder blades and make sure to keep them depressed throughout.

Trainer Tips

  • Do not use momentum to ‘throw’ the cables outwards. Keep control of the cable at all times.
  • Do not allow the hands to come closer together than shoulder-width to keep maximal tension on your posterior deltoid.
  • If you cannot pause briefly at the top and bottom of the rep, the load is too heavy.
  • Single-joint exercises like the reverse flye require less effort than multi-joint movements but make sure to stick to the prescribed rest period to ensure you can maintain performance.
  • This is a complex exercise so start light and only increase the load when you are happy with your technique. Use a mirror to monitor your form where possible.

The Set-Up 

  • Set up the battle rope with enough space for you to give your all to every round!
  • Adopt a shoulder-width stance and ‘root’ yourself into the ground.
  • Adopt a squat position by driving the knees out over the toes and keeping the back straight.
  • This is the position you should maintain throughout.

The Movement

  • Hold the ends of the rope at arm’s length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping the wrists soft, start raising and lowering each arm explosively.
  • Try to maintain the same pace throughout each round, being careful not to allow the intensity to drop off.
  • As an alternative, instead of making waves, slam the ropes to the ground.

Trainer Tips

  • Although this is a timed exercise, do not allow your form to become sloppy.
  • Focus on keeping the movement smooth and fluid rather than coming entirely from the shoulders (keep the wrists soft).
  • For slams: try and generate as much power as possible when slamming the ropes down by using your legs and keep the abs tight throughout.
  • Rest for the prescribed amount to ensure you can work consistently hard throughout all the sets.

By Emily Servante

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