Weekend Challenge: Dynamic Upper Body Strengthener - Save Our Bones

This weekend’s challenge targets the chest, upper back, triceps, biceps, and core muscles. And all you need to practice this exercise is a common household item – a chair.

The Dynamic Upper Body Strengthener also makes a perfect addition to your wintertime exercise routine, providing you with a powerful weapon for beating the winter blues. This has been confirmed by a study that will motivate you to exercise for your bones and your health.

So let’s get right to it!


To build bone density in the upper spine and arms, the muscles in these areas of the body must be engaged. Bearing weight is the primary way your body accomplishes this, a process known as osteogenic loading. In accordance with Wolff’s Law, osteogenic loading applies stress and pressure to the bones via muscle and gravity, thereby stimulating new bone growth.

Today’s move targets the following bones:

  • Humerus (upper arm bone)
  • Scapulae (shoulder blades)
  • Thoracic vertebrae
  • Radius and Ulna (lower arm bones)
  • Wrists
  • Sternum (breast bone)

The following muscle groups surround these bones and are involved in the Dynamic Upper Body Strengthener.

  • Core Muscles

These muscles are literally central to your whole body’s range of motion and sense of balance and stability. Quite a few muscles make up the core; here are the main ones.

Lying deep in the abdomen, the transverse abdominis originates from the iliac crest at the top of the pelvis. It attaches to the lower six ribs, the front of the pelvis, and ends at the middle of the abdomen where it joins the fibrous “dividing line” that runs down the center of your abdomen (the linea alba).

Moving around to the back, the latissimus dorsi is a large, flat muscle that originates at thoracic vertebrae T7 through T12. It comes up and wraps around the lower ribs to attach at the iliac crest, bottom 3 or 4 ribs, and up to the scapula.

Going deeper into the muscle layers, you’ll find the multifidus, which lies directly against the spine for its entire length. It stabilizes the vertebral joints and supports their alignment.

Another deep muscle that stabilizes the spine and aids in its rotation is the erector spinae. This muscle consists of three parts, the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis, which run from the sacrum to the cervical vertebrae. They attach at various points along the vertebrae along the whole length of the spine.

The glutes (gluteus maximus and minimus) are considered core muscles. They are the largest and most superficial of the buttocks muscles, arising from the upper ilium of the pelvis, sacrum, lumbar vertebrae, and coccyx (tailbone). They attach in two places at the top of the femur: the greater trochanter and the gluteal tuberosity.

  • Biceps, or biceps brachii, are named for the two heads that originate at the scapula and attach to the radius bone in the lower arm. The biceps run between the shoulder and the elbow.
  • The triceps muscle, as the name implies, has three heads that begin at the scapula and attach at the base of the humerus and the ulna at the elbow joint. It runs along the back of the forearm.
  • The pectoralis major and minor are the main muscles of the chest, and are often shortened to “pecs.” The pectoralis major is the larger and more superficial of the two muscles, and originates at the sternum, clavicle, and upper ribs and attaches to the top of the humerus. The pectoralis minor lies below the pectoralis major, which starts at three of the top ribs and attaches to the scapula.
  • The deltoids are the rounded muscles at the outside top of the shoulders. Their origins are at the clavicle and scapula, and insertion is at the top of the humerus.
  • Named for its shape that resembles a trapezoid, the trapezius is a large, superficial muscle that extends from the occipital bone at the base of the skull, outward to the scapula, and down to the lower thoracic vertebrae. The two sides of the “traps” together form the trapezius (or diamond) shape.
  • Also named for their shape, the rhomboids originate at T2 through T5, and insert along the inner edge of the scapula.


You’ll need a steady chair with arms to do this exercise.

  1. Facing the chair, place a hand on each chair arm.
  2. Move your feet back so your back is at an approximate 45-degree angle from your hips.
  3. Bend your elbows and go down into a push-up position. At the same time, lift one of your legs straight out behind you (do not bend your knee).
  4. As you push yourself back up, keep your leg extended but allow your toes to touch the ground. Bring the leg back up when you go down into a push-up again.
  5. Repeat the push-up motion with lifted leg 10 times, or less if you need to.
  6. Switch legs and repeat another set of ten.

Beyond Toning Muscles And Building Bone

When you exercise, you’re also taking a proactive step toward overcoming depression, especially as the daylight decreases in fall and winter. Known by the acronym SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be debilitating. But exercise can help the sad feelings associated with it, as well as depression in general.

Exploring this topic further, scientists set out to “determine the effectiveness of exercise in the treatment of depression.”1 They explored extensive data in 28 trials that compared various treatments for depression, including exercise.

The study authors concluded that:

“Exercise seems to improve depressive symptoms in people with a diagnosis of depression, but when only methodologically robust trials are included” and that “exercise probably needs to be continued in the longer-term for benefits on mood to be maintained.”1

The conclusion, then, points clearly to the concept that…

Regular Exercise Is Best

In order for exercise to be effective against depression, it needs to be practiced on a routine basis, not just sporadically. The same is true for building bone density through osteogenic loading.

To help you maintain an ongoing exercise regimen, the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System includes no fewer than four weeks of bone-building exercises that, like this weekend’s challenge, can easily be done at home without specialized equipment. Each Densercise™ session is designed to last just 15 minutes, so you’ll stay motivated and won’t get bored with repetitious moves.

Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!

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So don’t let the darker days or bad weather of winter keep you down! With Densercise™, you have all you need to take proactive steps toward overcoming the winter blues and building bone.

Have a great weekend!


1 Mead, Gillian E., et al. “Exercise for depression.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (2010): 1-64. PDF. https://discovery.dundee.ac.uk/portal/files/778709/Mead_2010.pdf

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. margot

    I love the weekend challenges and wonder if you have them all together on a “e-weekend challenge app” the we could purchase.
    Thank you so much for all you do for us.

  2. Terri

    I’m am 65. By the time I was 50, I found out I had 6 bone spurs on my Cervical (neck) vertebrae. They were compressing some nerves to the point I had to have two of them scraped off in 2007.. That same year I found out I had had gluten intolerance for many years. Plus I had a very hard fall in 1981 onto my left side wh I now know in hindsight caused a sideways whiplash. Does anyone know if it was the whiplash or the gluten intolerance that caused my bonespurs or both? TU.

  3. Janet

    Can one just do the Weekend Challenges or should the Densercise be done also?

  4. Linda Pearl

    Fanbulous exercise Vivian! I will do it every day from now on. Thank you!

  5. James KUNG

    Your text has left out a very imortant part in the …BREATHING…. Breathing is very important in exercises. If the writer works out the EXERCISES herself. …HOW TO BREATHE is very important. If this part is left out, you are hurting your readers …

  6. Susie

    I did this exercise a few times this morning, and I feel my muscles were worked. Very grateful, Vivian

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Keep it up, Susie!

  7. Lani

    I am wondering if the Weekend Challenge exercises are in the Densercise book?

    • Lynn DeFilippo

      For the most part, no, seems like they aren’t in the program, though a few are. I’m on week three, and for the most part I like it, though I”m already an active person.
      There’s a few crossovers, like the airplane, and one or two others. I substitute some of the weekend challenge exercises for a densercise that doesn’t work for me on that day.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      The Densercise Epidensity Training System does not include the Weekend Challenges, Lani.

  8. Mary

    I love the way you give exercises I can do without having to go on the floor. I have a bad knee and cant do push ups, so this is perfect for me. Thank you Vivian!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      So glad you can keep fit with our exercises!

  9. eileen

    what a fantastic exercise vivian, thanks so much, i’m going to start doing it now.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Eileen!

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