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How to get a body like Kylie Jenner: Upper-body workout

Kylie Jenner

Model, designer, business owner and reality TV star – it’s easy to see why Kylie Jenner has built a global empire of adoring fans.

The American’s ‘Kylie Cosmetics’ business has taken off in recent years, making her the world’s youngest self-made billionaire according to Forbes in 2019. Aside from her business ventures and appearances on reality TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kylie is now a mother and partner of well-known American rapper Travis Scott. She is also the sister of supermodel Kendall Jenner. She has become aspirational for so many women around the world, which is in part down to her slim, aesthetic figure.

However, finding the balance between curvaceousness and slenderness can seem like an impossible task. Achieving harmony between the two is the pinnacle of a well-developed physique. Toned arms and shoulders, and a flat stomach, but with shapely glutes and well-developed quads. No one epitomises this look more than Kylie Jenner. The model is well known for her curves, and while consistent lower body training is incredibly important in achieving this look, it is obvious that Kylie Jenner has not neglected her upper body in the pursuit of her physique!

The Kylie Jenner 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.

To start your life-changing body transformation today, visit any one of our gyms around the world or begin your online training program.

Romanian deadlift

The set-up

  • The first step is to get the barbell into position. If your gym has a power rack, set the hooks to hand-level when your arms are hanging by your side.
  • Place the barbell onto the hooks and add the desired amount of weight.
  • Stand close to the barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart and then reach down and grip the barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  • Lift the barbell off the hooks and take a step backwards.
  • Stand as tall as possible with your shoulder blades pulled back together and arms hanging by your sides. The barbell should be touching your thighs, and you should have a soft bend in your knees.
  • Look at the floor just in front of you.
  • This is the start and finish position for each rep.

 

The movement

  • Push your hips backwards and bend forward at the waist. The movement should come entirely from your hips, and you should feel a noticeable increase in hamstring tension.
  • Keep your back straight and pull the barbell into your body to stop it from drifting away from you.
  • You have reached the end of your range of motion when you cannot push your hips any further back without your lower back rounding or knees bending.
  • Pause in the bottom position and then drive your hips forwards and squeeze your glutes to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

 

Trainer tips

  • Make sure you can perform the incline hip extension with proper technique before progressing to this exercise.
  • If your gym does not have a power rack, use blocks to get the barbell as close to hand-level. If this is not possible, you will have to deadlift the barbell from the floor.
  • Be careful not to overextend at the top of the movement by arching your lower back.
  • Your lower back muscles will be engaged, but you should not feel that they are contributing more to the movement than your glutes and hamstrings.

30-degree incline dumbbell press

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 the start position, 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

  • The set-up and movement are the same as other versions of the dumbbell bench press but this angle places more emphasis on your shoulders.
  • 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.

Neutral-grip pulldown

The set-up

  • Grip the cable attachment with a neutral shoulder-width grip and sit down on the bench with your upper thighs securely positioned under the padding.
  • Sit up as tall as possible with your arms fully extended above your head but avoid shrugging your shoulders up by your ears.
  • This is the start and finish position for each rep.

The movement

  • Keeping your torso still, pull your elbows down towards your waist while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • 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 (squeezing) your upper back muscles.
  • 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.

Dumbbell shoulder press

The set-up

  • Help the client to pick up the dumbbells using a neutral grip and guide them to sit on the bench with the dumbbells resting on their thighs, close to the hip crease.
  • The client’s feet should be positioned at shoulder-width apart, under or behind their knees and flat on the floor.
  • Cue the client to lean back against the bench, using their thighs to help get the dumbbells into position, level with the chest and then up to a stacked position, with the wrist, elbow and shoulder all aligned.
  • Instruct the client to point their chest upwards (but keep the ribcage tucked down) towards the ceiling and tuck their shoulder blades down into their back pockets.
  • The client’s shoulders and glutes should be touching the bench and there should be a small gap between their lower back and the bench (neutral spine).
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

The movement

  • Help the client get into position with the dumbbells to the top ‘stacked’ position.
  • From the stacked position at the top, cue the client to ‘pull’ the dumbbells down towards their chest with the arms at an angle of 45-60 degrees to their 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 the bottom position, 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.

Wide-grip cable row

The set up

  • Sit on the machine facing the weight stack with your feet on the foot supports, and knees slightly bent.
  • Reach forward and grip the cable attachment with a wide grip (slightly wider than shoulder width apart).
  • Sit up as tall as possible with your arms fully extended reaching out in front of you.
  • This is the start and finish position for each rep.

The movement

  • Keeping your torso still, pull your elbows back towards your waist while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when your elbows cannot travel any further back without your shoulders rotating inwards and upper back rounding.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting (squeezing) your upper back muscles.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer tips

  • Avoid pulling the cable attachment too high towards your chest as this will shift tension off your upper back muscles and onto your arm muscles. Instead, focus on pulling your elbows towards your waist.
  • Your arm muscles will be working, but you should not feel that they are doing more work than your upper back muscles.
  • Watch how high the weight-stack travels on each rep as a reference point for your range-of-motion. If this shortens significantly between your first and last rep, then the weight is too heavy.

Dumbbell lateral raise

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.

Rope triceps extension

The set-up

  • Adjust the cable to the highest setting and attach two standard length rope attachments or one long rope attachment.
  • Hold the ropes with a neutral grip and take three to four steps back from the station.
  • If performing the standing version, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, push your hips back and lean forward slightly.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades back together and pull your elbows back behind your shoulders.
  • This is the start and finish position for each rep.

The movement

  • Keeping your upper arms and torso still, extend your elbows to straighten your arms.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot move any further without your upper back rounding and shoulders rotating inwards.
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting (squeezing) your triceps.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer tips

  • Make sure to move through the fullest range-of-motion possible, fully flexing your elbows on the return to the start position.
  • Keep your upper arms still and do not let the weight pull you out of position. The only movement should come from your forearms hinging on your elbow joints.
  • Single-joint exercises like the cable triceps extension 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 level.

Reverse crunch (using a decline bench)

The set-up

  • Set the bench to a slight decline (normally around 1 notch down on the bench).
  • Lie face up on a bench with your knees tucked all the way into your chest.
  • Hold onto the head of the bench with both hands.

The movement

  • Engage your abdominal muscles and curl your lower back off the bench. Visualise closing the gap between the bottom of your ribcage and your pelvis.
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot move any further without rolling up onto your upper back.
  • Pause for a moment and breath out in a long stream as if blowing up a balloon to achieve an extra contraction in the abdominals.
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Trainer tips

  • If you cannot feel an intense sensation in your abs, you are likely using momentum and other muscles, like the hip flexors, to swing upwards. Try slowing down the movement until you can feel it.
  • If you are unable to perform the exercise effectively flat, try a slight decline with your head at the bottom to allow gravity to help you.
  • Once you are able to complete the movement flat, you can progress the exercise to a slight incline with the head at the top of the bench.

Why this workout works

Training the upper body effectively requires a combination of heavy compound movements and more isolated single-joint exercises to etch detail into the shoulders and arms.

This workout pairs antagonist muscle groups using Ultimate Performance’s tried-and-tested German body composition (GBC) training method, moving from pushing exercises that target the chest, triceps and shoulders into pulling exercises that work the lats, upper back, and biceps.

Using this format, we can avoid excessive fatigue in each muscle group and maximise how much work you can perform in each session.

A common misconception is that lighter weights and higher repetitions are better for achieving a more-toned, less bulky look, but there will be no hiding away from heavy weights in this session! To achieve a look like Kylie’s, it’s important that you progressively overload the muscles consistently over time and focus on getting stronger from session to session.

This workout would work well as part of an upper-lower weekly split, making sure to rotate so that you train each body part at least two to three times per week.

 

TO START YOUR LIFE-CHANGING BODY TRANSFORMATION TODAY, VISIT ANY ONE OF OUR GYMS AROUND THE WORLD OR BEGIN YOUR ONLINE TRAINING PROGRAM.

DISCLAIMER | Results may vary | Results are based on individual circumstances | Timeframes for results are not guaranteed | Willpower is always required!

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