Total Body Transformation: 4 Week Upper Body Challenge – Week 1

4 week upper body challenge week 1 video


For this New Year, take your fitness to the next level with my upper body challenge. This program is designed to improve your upper body strength, stamina, and muscle definition within 4 weeks!



The question is always the same, whether you want to increase your energy, reduce your health risks, lose a few pounds, or just challenge yourself – how do you know if it’s really working? You can always go by how you look, feel, and how your body progresses over time. However, performing a few simple fitness tests can assist in setting a benchmark of where your initial fitness level is, and a way to measure it as you progress.


You have the ability to perform simple tests in the comfort of your own home! Let’s start with the three assessments below to determine your upper body strength.  Record your results and keep them to reassess the same tests at the end of the 4 weeks.


1. Push-Up Test – Complete as many push-ups (wide stance) in good form as you can for 1 minute.

Tests upper body functional strength.

  • Beginner/modified: knees down, straight line from shoulders to knees.
  • Intermediate/Advanced: legs extended, straight line from shoulders to heels.

2. Plank Test – Hold a perfect plank for as long as you can, aiming for 1 minute or more.

       Tests isometric shoulder and core strength.

  • Form: shoulders on top of wrists, legs extended long, core engaged and neutral spine position.

3. Shoulder Taps – Complete as many reps with perfect form as you can in 1 minute.

Tests stamina, strength, endurance.

  • Form: Plank position, legs extended, neutral core.  Alternate shoulder taps as quickly as possible within 1 minute.


*Please refer to the video to see how to perform these fitness assessment tests.




Prevention of injury is extremely important when focusing your exercises on the shoulder joint. There are so many small intricate muscle attachments, tendons, and ligaments that need to be strengthened to withstand multi directional activity.  Whether it’s within your workout, an activity, or during a sport you play, your upper body muscles play a big part in keeping you moving strong without injury.

Prior to any activity, take a few minutes to dynamically warm-up your shoulder girdle area, upper back, and core. This will help loosen the muscles and ligaments for your workout and it will also help prevent injury from occurring.


Listed in the chart below are a few dynamic warm-up movements to prepare your muscles for the workout.  Also included are some cool-down stretches to recover your muscle back to resting length post workout.


*Check out the video to see how the warm-up and cool-down exercises are performed.



Get ready to challenge your upper body and produce real results in the process!  I have created a plan of action based on a 4-week training cycle. For the challenge, you will perform 5 upper body exercises during the workout. The challenge consists of varying reps/ sets and resistance levels to suit your fitness needs.


Each week I will provide you with a slightly different set of exercises that target your muscles in every range of motion. The intensity level should increase weekly to keep your body challenged and progressing with improvements. This adds variety in the routine, challenges the muscles, and increases strength development.


Perform these workouts on NON-CONSECUTIVE days.
Suggested: include additional core/ cardio/ lower body workouts on other days.

Perform this workout 2xs/ week
Dynamic Warm-up:

Perform 10 reps each, 2 sets
Small Arm Circles
Large Arm Circles
Alternating Swings
Torso Twists w Arm Swings
Plank Hold

The Workout:

20 reps, 1 set
*Intensity depends on your initial strength level
1. Decline Lat Raises
2. Shoulder Press (press bar)
3. Tricep Dips (glide board)
4. Kneeling High Rows
5. Kneeling Bicep Curls

Cool-Down/ Stretch
Overhead ArchStanding Cat/ CowArm Pull


*Check out the video to see how these exercises are performed.


Your dedication and commitment is inspiring to others going through the same process.  It can be motivating and encouraging to share your progress on a social media platform. Use the #tag: #TotalGymsUpperBodyChallenge


Good luck with this upper body challenge! You will be amazed at how strong your body becomes within weeks of consistent efforts! Stick with the plan to see how strong your body can be!


Stay tuned for week 2’s challenge!


Best Always,

Maria (purchasable workout videos)

Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. at the risk of sounding really dumb, the instructions for setting this product up are shit. can’t figure it out. nothing to show you how to put the pulleys up correctly. piss poor

    1. Hey,

      Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time. There should be a hook under the glideboard for the pulleys to attach to. Basically, when you open the box, you should only have to set up the tower, and attach the pulleys. Here’s a video if you need it:

      Feel free to call customer service if you need more assistance and they might be able to help you work through it quickly!

  2. I just purchased the Total Gym XLS…..I need to purchase a good pilates dvd & I need the 24 ‘ leg extension rope plus the Pilates Total Gym toe bar…..can you please help me find these items?
    The packages that are offered I already have half of what comes in the package and only need three of the items. I am a caretaker for a parent and I’m not able to work so I can’t afford anything extra,
    Thank you for you time and I’m so excited to get started!


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