When you think of the gym, you think of weights; dumbbells, barbells, machines, etc. While these are all great tools to build up your upper body strength, many people sometimes underestimate the power of their own bodyweight. No excuses, no gym membership, no weights, no problem! Below are a few upper body exercises that will help tone those arms. All you need is yourself, and maybe your mat!
Bodyweight Exercises For Arms
Start at the edge of your mat, standing with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and begin to hinge forward at your hips to place the palms of your hands flat on the floor. Keeping your feet in place, walk your hands forward until you reach “plank position.” Make sure that your shoulders are directly underneath your wrists, for proper form. You may slightly bend your knees if necessary in order to reach and touch the floor with your palms. After you reach plank position accordingly, retrace your hands back towards your feet, to the starting position. You may also add in a push-up once you’re in plank for an extra challenge.
Never underestimate the classic pushup exercise. Although a classic move, you’d be surprised how many people do this one incorrectly. For proper form, begin in plank position. Again, shoulders lined up, above your wrists. Engage your core, spine straight, and head in neutral position (don’t look up or underneath you). Start the motion by lowering your body by bending with your elbows. Push yourself back up through your palms so that your arms are straight again. Do not lock out your elbows! Keeping your core engaged throughout this exercise will prevent your back from caving in. If you find yourself struggling too much with this exercise, as a regression, you may drop down to your knees to better support your body until you build up enough strength to do a full push-up.
✓ Plank Jacks
The name of this exercise is pretty self explanatory, but can become very challenging. Of course, you’re going to start in a plank position. Keeping your core engaged throughout, begin by jumping your feet in and out. Just like as if you were going to perform a standing jumping jack! This is more of a stabilizing power move, so it may feel challenging quickly. If this becomes too much on your wrists, as a regression, you may drop down to your elbows instead of staying on your hands. Simply align your elbows underneath your shoulders when in this position.
✓ Diamond Pushup
A different variation of the pushup, this one requires more strength in your triceps specifically. You’re going to start off in the same plank position, but this time walk your hands together so that your thumbs and forefingers form the shape of a triangle. Core engaged, continue to bend at your elbows to lower your body down and push yourself back up through the palms of your hands. This may be more challenging for most at first, especially if you’re so used to performing the classic push-up mentioned above. Don’t fret, as this exercise can be modified too. Drop down to your knees as a regression. Your upper body will perform the same alignment and movement until you build enough strength to fully perform back on your toes.
✓ Plank taps
May also be called “shoulder taps.” This is another exercise that will be performed in plank position. Core engaged, feet hip-width apart, and hands aligned underneath your shoulders. Begin this exercise by lifting your left hand off of the mat, and tapping your right shoulder. It’s important to keep your core and glutes engaged throughout this motion to prevent your hips from rocking back and forth. Place your left hand back down, and perform the same motion on the other side; right hand to left shoulder. That is one repetition. This exercise is great for upper body strength and core stability work.
Take Home Message
Body weight exercises are great for triggering different muscle fibers, and not only for beginners. At any fitness level, these exercises can be challenging. They’re super efficient and can increase your flexibility while achieving better balance! Not only can these exercises be used as a “no excuse” workout, but can be used to switch up your regular weight lifting plan, too!