Trainer Tuesday: Upper Body Pulse Challenge

‘Tis Tuesday my friends!  That means another kick butt workout is coming your way today…  Woot!  We’re going to focus on upper body today because you know you want those smokin’ arms.  Jessica Biel, anyone?  She’s my inspiration. Winking smile

And real quick, don’t be afraid to lift heavy!  Many women say they fear lifting heavy weight because they don’t want to “bulk up”.  This is so FALSE!  I could go on and on about this, but in a nutshell, women don’t have enough testosterone to bulk up.  Your body needs to be challenged to get results, so force it go outside of its comfort zone and LIFT HEAVY!  Of course, be safe and ensure that you’re using proper form.  If your form is improper and/or you’re not doing an exercise properly, you could potentially be lifting too much weight.  I’ve always told my clients to lift a heavy enough weight so that they’re struggling toward the end of their set (still using proper form!), but light enough for them to be able to finish the set.  Please keep this in mind as you’re trying out the workout below!  I won’t ever tell you what weight to use (since I don’t know your fitness level, etc.), but I can remind you of what I said above.

Today’s upper body workout is inspired by the fitness class I took last week at my new gym.  It was a circuit style class that involved strength and cardio circuits.  It kicked my booty, and I loved every minute of it!  Within the strength circuits, the instructor led us through a lot of “pulses” for each exercise.  I forgot how bittersweet they are!  Gotta love the burn.  It challenged my muscles, and I was definitely feeling it the next couple days.  Needless to say, you’ll be seeing lots of “pulses” in the exercises below.  Winking smile

[As always, please consult your doctor/physician before beginning a new workout regimen.]

Upper Body Pulse Challenge

type: strength

fitness level: beginner to advanced

equipment needed: dumbbells

Warm Up: 5-10 minutes light to moderate cardio and/or dynamic stretching

Dumbbell Chest Press  3 sets x 12-15 reps

Pulse chest press for 1 minute

Upright Row 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Pulse upright row for 1 minute

Reverse Fly 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Pulse reverse fly for 1 minute

Bicep Hammer Curl 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Pulse bicep hammer curl for 1 minute

Overhead Tricep Extensions 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Pulse tricep extensions for 1 minute

Cool Down: 5-10 minute light cardio and/or static stretching

As always, please let me know if you have any questions about the above workout and/or the individual exercises.  If you’re wanting to make it easier, lower it to two sets, go lighter on the weights, and keep the reps lower.  If you’re wanting to make it more advanced, do the three sets of fifteen with pretty heavy weight.  Your upper body is guaranteed to be sore after this one!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out more fitness fun over at Lindsay’s List today!


  • Are there any celebrities that inspire you with their fitness/hot bods?
  • Have you ever included “pulses” in your workouts?  Love it or hate it?


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  1. says

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve always been worried that using heavy weights would make me bulky, it’s hard not to think, but I understand how this actually isn’t the case. My goal post-baby is to get my arms nice and toned! Jessica Biel has an amazing athletic figure, I also love Carrie Underwood’s amazing legs. Totally inspiring! Pulses are tough but totally worth it! :-) Hope you have a great day!

  2. says

    Jessica Beil does have an amazing body! I heard she is engaged to Justin Timberlake now too, so what more motivation do you need than that? :-) I definitely look up to Vanessa Manillo for fitness. She has a great lean body that isn’t super skinny and very toned. You can tell the girl works hard and takes care of herself!

    • Ashley says

      i start out with the same weight i used for the regular sets. if i find that it’s too heavy, i’ll go down in weight a bit. it’s better to start out heavier and move down then start out light and not get a good challenge! ;)

  3. says

    I love to hate pulses – if you know what I mean! They are such a good burn and really push me to the edge after a set. I try to always include them just like you did in this workout!

    • Ashley says

      i’ll try my best to explain it without getting to actually show you… i’ll use the bicep curl as an example. rather than doing a full bicep curl, you do little “pulses” of the curl midway. i hope this helps!

  4. says

    This really does help. I have always been concerned as to whether or not I am using the right size weight to make a difference in my arms. I slept in this morning, so I can’t wait to get home and workout!
    The Firm uses “pulses”. It’s a love/hate relationship. ;)

    Jessica’s arms=my dream! lol!

    • Ashley says

      i’m planning on the American Fork half in June… probably one in the late summer/fall too! i saw you signed up for the provo marathon!! woohoo!

  5. says

    Yikes, I haven’t included “pulses” in my workouts in a while! When I took classes at my college’s gym, the instructors would always do pulses and I would hate them and love them for it at the same time. It is so tough, but I think it really brings results! Definitely trying this workout for my next upper body session! Thanks, Ashley!

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