This Upper Body Bodyweight Workout Will Strengthen Your Arms

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If you don’t have much fitness equipment at home, it can be hard to work your arms, chest, shoulders, and back. But this upper body bodyweight workout can help you challenge those muscles—no dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands necessary.

“Upper body work has been a challenge since the [new coronavirus] pandemic started, especially when you have zero equipment,” Sivan Fagan, C.P.T., owner of Strong with Sivan in Baltimore, Maryland, tells SELF.

But even if you don’t have any external equipment, you still have some resistance at your disposal: your own bodyweight.

That’s what the five-move workout below will use to help you smoke your shoulders, chest, triceps (the muscles along the upper back of your arms), and even your upper back. You’ll use pushing movements to work your chest and triceps with push-ups and tricep dips, standing I- and Y-raises to hit your upper back, lower traps, and shoulders, and a dynamic plank variation to fire up your core and build shoulder stability.

And that last part is pretty important, since shoulder stability—the ability to maintain proper control and stability in the shoulder joint—is something that many people tend to neglect in their workouts, says Fagan. Improving that stability not only helps you prevent injury to the joint, but it can also help you lift more weight safely, says Fagan.

Even if you have access to heavier weights, this upper body bodyweight workout is still a great one to add to your weekly routine: Because it’s set up in a circuit fashion, where you’ll be working by time, not by reps, it’ll really work your muscular endurance. That makes it a solid supplement to your other upper body routines, especially ones that are focused more on compound moves and building strength.

Want to get started? Here’s what you need to know to get in a quick upper-body pump.

The Workout:

What you’ll need: Your bodyweight, a box or step for the tricep dips, and an exercise mat to make the moves more comfortable.



  • Push-ups
  • Y-raises
  • I-raises


  • Lateral plank walk
  • Tricep dips


Complete each exercise in the triset for 30-45 seconds; try not to rest between exercises. Do 3-4 rounds. Rest for 20 seconds before going into the superset. Complete each exercise in the superset for 30-45 seconds; try not to rest between exercises. Do 3-4 rounds. Increase rest as needed so that you can perform movements with proper form.

Demoing the moves are Cookie Janee (GIFs 1 and 4), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Traci Copeland, (GIFs 2 and 3), a Nike Master Trainer; and Amanda Wheeler (GIF 5), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies.

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