With warmer weather (i.e. short sleeve weather) upon us, a lot of gym-goers and workout enthusiasts are looking for ways to workout their upper bodies. Weighted exercises are a great way to strengthen your arms, but there are numerous body weight exercises that you can do at the gym, at home, or while you’re on the go! Check out these top bodyweight exercises for stronger arms.
We can’t talk about upper body strength without mentioning the push up – this fundamental movement effectively works the arms, chest, and abdominal muscles in one fell swoop. If you’re new to pushups, start by just working the downward phase of the pushup.
Begin with your knees on the ground, your hands underneath your shoulders, and your abs nice and tight. Slowly lower yourself down to the ground with the body remaining in one straight line. Once you get your body down to the ground, return to the starting position in any fashion that works for you.
As you get more comfortable with pushups, you can begin to work on stringing together the downward phase and upward push while keeping your knees on the ground. Once that movement feels comfortable to you, break up the two components of the pushup as stated above, but with your knees off the ground in a plank position.
Regardless of the variation of pushups you’re working on, you can start incorporating them into your workouts by performing three to four sets of eight to ten repetitions.
2. Tricep Dip
To target your triceps, start incorporating three to four sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of a tricep dip. This movement requires a stable base for you to support your weight on; chairs, a park bench, or even steps on a staircase work. Place your hands on your base with the fingertips pointing forward (away from the body) and your elbows pointing behind you.
Place your feet either flat on the ground with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, or for a greater challenge, extend the legs straight out with only the heels touching the ground. Inhale and bend the elbows, lowering your body down until your arms are in a 90-degree bend. Exhale and you use your triceps to push your body back up to the starting position.
3. Plank Climber
To put more of a focus on working your arms, try this fun plank variation! Start in a plank with your hands underneath your shoulders, your abs tight, and your body in one straight line. Collapse one arm at a time and bring yourself down to a plank on your elbows. Then use your arm muscles to push yourself back up to the starting position and complete the movement.
During the movement, focus on keeping your belly button facing toward the ground the entire time, and limit the amount of shifting in your hips. Minimizing movement in these two areas will create a greater challenge for your arms and abs. Try working three sets of six to eight repetitions at a time.
4. Slow Sit Throughs with a 3-second pause
Sit throughs are a great exercise to incorporate into cardio workouts, but you can slow them down to work the triceps and lats more. Start in a table top position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Your back should be flat and your knees should be hovering above the ground.
Place your left foot flat onto the ground and bring your right leg in front of it and extended out, hovering just above the ground. Hold this position for three seconds, then bring yourself back to the table top position. Drop your right foot down flat on to the ground and extend your left leg in front of it, hovering just above the ground.
Hold that position for three seconds, and then return to the table top position. During the three second pause on each side, focus on pushing the hand balancing you down into the ground and engaging your tricep and lat of that arm, and your abs. Try working three to four sets of six to eight repetitions per side.
You can sneak in a great arm workout without having to hit the gym or having any weights available at home. Try these movements out during your next upper body workout!
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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