While many upper-body exercises involve equipment like dumbbells and barbells, arm workouts without weights are a solid way to put your muscles to the test, too. Thinking about toning your arms? It’s tough to know where to start. If you don’t own a set of weights or can’t get to the gym, it can be difficult to know how to work on these areas. If you have no weights in sight or you’re new to arm, you can just use your body weight to get an arm workouts.
To be totally clear, it’s hard to work all of the muscles in your arms without weights, so arm workouts without weights are only going to be able to target certain areas, primarily the tops of the shoulders (the deltoids) and the triceps. Other arm muscles, like your biceps, typically need some external resistance to work against. But the exercises listed here are definitely useful for hitting some key muscle groups when you don’t have access to equipment.
Arm workouts without weights can be practiced by anyone and being at home is no excuse. This kind of training has several benefits and should be an integral part of any healthy workout plan.
Arm workouts without weights can help you to maintain a correct and healthy posture, something many of us struggle with daily. A good posture can further improve the balance of the body, relax your muscles, and relieve you of musculoskeletal pain.
Traditional arm workouts like bicep curls and shoulder presses work great for strengthening the upper body—but they usually require some weights to get the best benefit. So what if you want an efficient, effective workout, without having to worry about equipment.
By training the muscles in you body, you can improve both physique and health. Also, a good arm workout without weights has aesthetic benefits giving you nicely toned arms. Furthermore, achieving toned arms without weights will enhance your workouts by building naturally stronger shoulders and arms without adding too much stress on one muscle group.
Actually, that’s where most people are wrong. A push up is what is actually a compound exercise — that means multiple muscles and joints are utilized. You know that a push up engages your pecs, biceps, triceps, and lats, but you’re also engaging your wrists, elbows and shoulder joints to perform the movement. Compound exercises provide more value out of a single movement.
Arm Workouts Without Weights
Arm circles are often used as a warm-up exercise before engaging in static stretching, or more strenuous exercise, such as strength training. This exercise targets your shoulders, triceps, back and biceps. During arm circles you engage in a dynamic stretch, which means that you’re stretching as you’re moving. In addition to warming up your shoulder joints, arm circles increase circulation to you arms, fingers and shoulders. If you hold a set of lightweight dumbbells in your hands during arm circles, you can optimize the toning effect of the exercise. You’ll notice the muscle tone when your excess arm fat reduces.
- While standing straight with your feet flat on the ground and arms extended out to the side at a 90-degree angle to your body, start moving your arms in small, fast circles forward.
- Do as many rotations as you can and then reverse the motion, doing as many circles as you can in the reverse direction.
- Take a break and repeat two more times.
- If you need to sit, make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your back is straight.
Another big benefit that you can get from kickboxing is that it will help you burn calories and lose weight. Now, we don’t have an exact calorie count for how many you will burn during a class, but you can be sure that you’ll burn away more calories than if you sit on your couch watching TV.
Between sparring, fighting, punching the weight bag, doing weight training, and various cardiovascular exercises you can be sure that kickboxing will let you achieve and maintain a decent weight and body shape.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bring your right arm up in a 45-degree angle and ensure that your fist is just below your jawline.
- As you punch your fist at an imaginary target in front of you, extend your arm but don’t overextend your shoulder muscles.
Wall push-ups work on your biceps, triceps, pecs, and the anterior deltoids that help you with the movement of your shoulder. Apart from that, this exercise also engages your back, traps, abs, and hips muscles. And that’s how all the toning happens!
- Stand in front of a wall, about 1-2 feet away.
- Raise your arms and place your palms on the wall, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your fingertips should point up.
- Keeping your legs stationary, bend your elbows, and bring your chest and chin close to the wall. This is your starting position.
- Take a deep breath, exhale, and push the wall until your elbows are slightly bent, and your chest and chin are away from the wall.
- Inhale and go back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
Climbing a mountain would be a daunting workout to most, but what if the mountain is the floor? That’s the concept behind mountain climbers. Performed from a plank position, you’ll alternate bringing one knee to your chest, then back out again, speeding up each time until you’re “running” against the floor.
While it sounds simple, mountain climbers exercise almost the entire body and raise your heart rate. You can easily add mountain climbers to your morning workout at home or the gym, in a hotel room while you’re traveling, or even squeeze in a few in the break room at work.The basic move is great for beginners, but more experienced exercisers can take things up a notch with variations.
When you’re just starting out try the classic variation of the exercise:
- Get into a plank position, making sure to distribute your weight evenly between your hands and your toes.
- Check your form—your hands should be about shoulder-width apart, back flat, abs engaged, and head in alignment.
- Pull your right knee into your chest as far as you can.
- Switch legs, pulling one knee out and bringing the other knee in.
- Keep your hips down, run your knees in and out as far and as fast as you can. Alternate inhaling and exhaling with each leg change.
The triceps dip is one of the most effective exercises for activating the triceps muscles in your upper arm. Additionally, you must activate your core as you hold your hips off the ground. The triceps are used for pushing, and you will engage them in any daily activities that require pushing.That being said, you want to keep your body in balance. If you participate in sports that use a lot of pulling action, you want to maintain strength in your triceps in order to prevent injury and muscle imbalances.
- Sit on the edge of the chair and grip the edge next to your hips. Your fingers should be pointed at your feet. Your legs are extended and your feet should be about hip-width apart with the heels touching the ground. Look straight ahead with your chin up.
- Press into your palms to lift your body and slide forward just far enough that your behind clears the edge of the chair.
- Lower yourself until your elbows are bent between 45 and 90 degrees.
- Slowly push yourself back up to the start position and repeat. Control the movement throughout the range of motion.
- Begin with 3 sets of 10 repetitions and increase your sets and reps over several weeks as you build muscle and strength in your triceps.
Planks and jumping jacks are perfectly fine workout moves. But if you combine the two together, you can actually get an even better total-body workout. Meet: the plank jack!
Plank jacks involve keeping your body in a plank position, while jumping both legs out into a wide V, and then hopping them back together again. The move challenges both your core and shoulder stability, and it’s definitely worth adding to your next workout routine if you’re trying to sculpt your arms and abs at the same time.
- Start in a plank position with your hands under your shoulders and feet together.
- While keeping your hips level, hump your feet out to a wide V, then jump them back in again. That’s one rep.
Pike Push up
As a fun experiment, I did Pike Pushups as the only progression exercise to see how many it would take to translate to a single Handstand Pushup (HSPU). I documented that entire journey in a 3 part series on my blog here and as I got intimately acquainted with this exercise, I started to put together all the things I learned along the way to help you succeed with it too! So in this post I will point out what is proper form & how to set yourself up for consistency, so here goes!
- Start off at the top of a pushup position on the floor, with your arms straight and your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Then lift your hips and walk your feet in closer to your hands so that your body forms an upside down V. Your legs and arms should stay as straight as possible.
- From here, bend your elbows and lower your upper body down and forwards, until the top of your head nearly touches the floor. Your head should be infront of your hands once your elbows bend. Imagine, your hands are the bottom two points of a triangle, and your head moves forward as you lower down to make the top point of the triangle.
- From the bottom position, push down into the floor hard with your hands and keep your elbows in close to your body to straighten your arms and return to the start position. Make sure that as you push your body upwards, you maintain the angle at your hips rather than pressing your chest away from the floor and collapsing at the hips.
Diamond push-ups, also known as triangle push-ups, are a more advanced variation of the classic push-up. Practice diamond push-ups by bringing your hands close together to form a diamond or triangle shape below your chest. Keep your back and legs in a straight line and push yourself off the ground.
- Begin on all fours with your knees and toes flexed and in contact with the floor. Your hips should be over your knees. Your hands should be slightly narrower than your shoulders. Connect your thumbs and index fingers to create a diamond shape. Grip the ground with your hands, and rotate your shoulders outward to engage your lats.
- Straighten your legs to lift your knees off the ground so you end up in a pushup position. Your legs should be hip-width apart or together.
- Pretension your shoulders and hips while engaging your core. Squeeze your quads and glutes. Your chin should remain tucked, as if you were holding an egg under your chin. All repetitions should begin from this position.
- Pull your chest toward your hands by bending your elbows. Your shoulder blades should retract as you lower to the ground.
- Lower your body until your upper arms are alongside your ribcage. Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement.
- While maintaining your alignment, initiate the upward movement by squeezing your chest and straightening your elbows. Your shoulder blades should protract as you push to the top of the movement.
- Finish the movement by squeezing your chest and triceps.
Downward dog is another Sun Salutation pose that tones the arms. For this pose, your body will form a reverse V-shape with your heels pressed down or close to the floor and your hands flat on the floor. Ideally, your spine will follow a straight line toward the ground with your hips pressed back. You may need to bend your knees to keep your body in the reverse V-shape
- Set up on all fours with your hands about 3 inches ahead of your shoulders and shoulder-width apart.
- Align your wrist creases so they are parallel to the front edge of the mat, then root down evenly through the whole of each hand.
- Press down firmly with your fingertips to pull your forearms toward the front of the room. Keep your knuckles grounded as you do this.
- Spin your biceps forward while firming your triceps into your midline.
- Roll your inner upper arms toward the wall in front of you while engaging your outer upper arms.
- Inhale, and tuck your toes under; exhale, and press your hips back and up.
- Glance back at your feet to make sure they are hip-width apart and parallel.
- Let your head hang freely so there is no tension in the neck; bring your gaze toward your feet.
- Allow your shoulder blades to spin out and up, away from your spine and toward your outer armpits (upward rotation) in order to maintain the articulation of the bones of your shoulder and spaciousness at the base of your neck.
- Maintain the hand and arm actions from all fours to open your shoulders without overstretching or sinking through the armpits.
- If your lower back feels rounded, bend your knees in order to send your sitting bones straight back and up.
- With each exhalation, root down firmly through your hands; with each subsequent inhalation, send your hips back and up even more. •Hold for anywhere from a few breaths to a few minutes, then release.
While most people think about push-ups for their chest, they are an effective whole-body exercise.
They are particularly good at working out the following muscle groups:
- Triceps and biceps
- Pectoral (chest) muscles
- Lats (latissimus dorsi muscles, located on your back)
How-to: Start in a high plank position, with hands placed a little wider than shoulders. Keep your gaze straight down toward the floor. Using your arms, lower yourself to the floor, then push yourself back up by engaging arms and core.
The great thing about planks with shoulder taps is all you need is your own body weight. The plank with shoulder taps helps to strengthen your core, glutes, arms, and shoulders. This exercise helps to reduce lower back pain, improves your posture, and tighten your midsection.
Here are the steps that you can follow to do them properly.
- Get into a push-up position with your arms extended, your wrists under your shoulders, and your feet hip-width apart. Make sure that your back and neck are in a straight line and your core is tight.
- Bring one hand up to the opposite shoulder. For example, bring your right hand up and tap your left shoulder. Breath out when you tap your shoulder.
- Place that hand back on the floor.
- Repeat the steps with your other hand. And that’s count as one repetition.
The superman exercise will not enable you to jump over tall buildings in a single bound nor grant you the ability soar through the air at the speed of light. However, it will give you the power to better prevent injury to your back, improve your posture, and build a better mind-muscle connection to your lower back.
First, lay face down (prone) comfortably on the mat, forehead flat on the ground, and keep your arms and legs outstretched. Second, raise your hands and feet approximately four to five inches off the floor — or however high you can go — while keeping your core on the ground. Third, hold this raised position for three seconds and then lower your hands and feet slowly back to the floor.
That is one repetition. Repeat that is a slow and controlled fashion for as many reps as your programming calls for. In terms of arm placement, the goal is to be fully extended forward as shown in the video above. If you are not yet flexible enough to do that, it’s okay. Simply bend the arms at the elbow and hold them up as though you were performing a reverse flye or hold them straight along your sides.
The Inchworm, a HIIT class favorite, is a full-body exercise that increases strength and flexibility. Your body weight is the only gym equipment you need to make this low-impact exercise highly effective. Inspired by the rhythmic movements of inchworms, this move covers all the bases: core, arms, chest and upper back.
- Begin standing at the back edge of the mat.
- Hinge your body forward and walk your hands out in front of you along the floor, keeping your feet in place.
- Continue walking your arms out past the plank position. Your arms should be above your head and your feet should still be at the back of the mat.
- Start walking your feet toward your hands in small steps.
- Continue inching your body up until your feet meet your palms, then repeat the movement.
Tabletop Triceps Pushup
- Start on all fours in a tabletop position. Stack shoulders right on top of the hands and hips right over knees.
- Keep your elbows pointed toward your knees. Inhale as you bend the elbows and bring your chest toward the floor. Go as far down as you can; try to line your nose up with your fingertips.
- Engage your core, and slowly lift your chest back up to start. Keep your chest open, but don’t arch your back.
Reverse PlankLike all plank variations, the reverse plank is an excellent way to strengthen your core. It’s especially good for the muscles in your lower back, your hamstrings and your glutes, but if you are properly braced, your abs will also feel the pinch.
If you have lower back troubles, a properly performed reverse plank could ease the pain by strengthening the core muscles. However, if you’re not doing it right and feel back or neck pain during the exercise, start with an easier variation first, like a regular plank.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Put your hands on the ground palms down just behind and outside your hips. Then push up and lift your body until it forms a straight line from head to toe.
Keep your arms and legs straight and brace your abs. Just as with every type of plank, don’t let yourself droop. If you can’t hold the position for 30 seconds, try supporting yourself on your forearms rather than with straight arms at first. A saggy plank is of no benefit at all.
Side Plank With Arm Extension
The primary muscles used are the obliques, along with the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus to stabilize the hips. Your shoulder stabilizers keep you aligned as well. This exercise doesn’t put pressure on your lower back or neck as many core exercises do. In pregnancy, the side plank is preferred as it places less stress on the center abdominal muscles. It is a balancing exercise and you will be building your balance and coordination. This exercise can help you be able to sustain good posture and ease of movement by building a strong core and better balance.
- Lie on your right side, legs extended and stacked from hip to feet. The elbow of your right arm is directly under your shoulder. Ensure your head is directly in line with your spine. Your left arm can be aligned along the left side of your body.
- Engage your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel toward your spine.
- Lift your hips and knees from the mat while exhaling. Your torso is straight in line with no sagging or bending. Hold the position.
- After several breaths, inhale and return to the starting position. The goal should be to hold for 60 seconds. Change sides and repeat.
- Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged. Place your feet hip-width apart.
- Lower your left arm so that your forearm is on the floor. Then, do the same with your right so that you’re in a forearm plank.
- Reverse to return to a high plank. That’s 1 rep.
- As you move, keep your hips as still as possible. To make this easier, try widening your legs a little more.
The decline pushup. Like a traditional pushup, the decline pushup challenges your chest, core, arms, and shoulders. However, instead of churning out reps with your feet planted on the floor, you elevate them on a higher surface. (You’ll need some type of bench, box, or chair to prop them up on.)
- Start in front of the elevated surface on all fours. With fingers facing forward and splayed slightly, press palms into the floor. Hands should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
- Carefully extend one leg back to prop one foot at a time onto an elevated surface with legs fully extended. Straighten elbows and engage core, so body forms a long line from top of head to heels. This is your starting position.
- Next, inhale deeply and bend elbows to lower chest towards floor with control until arms form 90-degree angles. Keep neck neutral and eyes gazing just past fingertips.
- From here, exhale and push through hands to extend arms and return to starting position. That’s one rep.
PULL-UPSEven though the lats do a lot of the work, stabilizer muscles in the arms and back also play an important role in completing each rep. Your biceps, for example, are essential for pull-ups. Likewise, the brachialis and brachioradialis — which work in conjunction with the bicep — can be targeted with a few quick pull-ups.
Simply hanging from the bar won’t do much to stimulate these muscles, which launch into action as soon as you attempt to defy gravity and raise yourself above the bar. Yes, these can be worked with a typical dumbbell or barbell curl, but pull-ups go above and beyond and are easier to adapt. In fact, with a few tweaks (such as reducing the amount of space between your hands), the pull-up can shift from being a primarily lat-oriented exercise to a bicep-heavy move.
- Grab onto the bar. Just hang from it.
- Now it is time to clench your abs and start pulling yourself up using your arms until your chest is almost touching the bar. Then raise yourself up higher so your chin is above the pull up bar. Be sure to lead with your chest and keep your shoulders back and low in order to prevent injury.
- Don’t swing your legs front to back or side to side in an effort to get you up to where you want to be. That may cause injury, plus it’s kind of like cheating.
- Now slowly lower yourself back down to the initial starting position and repeat until you can’t go anymore.
The side plank rotation activates all your abdominal muscles and strengthens your core. This exercise can help you improve balance, stability, endurance and core strength.
- Move to the floor lying face down. Put the palms of your hands flat on the floor with the fingers extended forward. Your palms should get placed in line with the shoulders. Spread your feet, so they are approximately shoulder width apart and press your toes into the floor.
- Press your body up. Have your arms almost entirely extended and the torso and legs off of the floor. You are now in the starting position.
- Exhale and keep your arm straight with only a slight bend at the elbow. Move your right hand up towards the ceiling by twisting/rotating to the right through your entire torso.
- Inhale and slowly twist and lower your hand back to the floor under the shoulder. Now repeat the same action with your other arm while twisting/rotating in the opposite direction.
- You have now completed one repetition of the Rotating Plank. Repeat for the desired number of reps.