The ultimate home workout is one that doesn’t require any additional weights.
Weights can take up a lot of space.
And not to mention, not everyone has the budget to buy a nice shiny home multi-gym when trying to get fit. Therefore body weighted exercises are typically a win. They just require a bit more creativity than your average workout.
For example, you can perform jump squats and lunges to your heart’s content when working out your lower body. But what exercises work best for upper body days?
To gain some inspiration and learn about what kind of bicep and triceps exercises you can do at home without weights, read on.
You can use household items to challenge this group of muscles. For example, use water jugs filled with sand or detergent bottles.
The best exercises to strengthen your back and biceps (while using these household items as resistance) include:
- The Shoulder Press
- The Bicep Curl
- The One Armed Row
- Lateral Raises
- Front Raises
However, if you wish to forgo the weights entirely, consider the following arm exercises.
Resistance Band Curls
You don’t need dumbbells or weighted plates to have a tough workout — resistance bands make a fine substitute. For this exercise, loop one end of the band under your feet. Then, bring the other end of the band towards your body in a curling motion.
Resistance Band Rows
Like the previous exercise, loop one end of the band underneath your feet for support. Grab the opposite end of the band, and with your elbows facing outwards row the band up towards your face. Don’t stop until you’ve hit mid-chest level.
Resistance Band Lateral Raises
Step onto one side of the band with both feet. Then, taking each side, raise your arms up and out to make a T shape with your body. Bring your arms back down and count this as one rep.
Use a pull-up bar to take your bicep workout to the next level. You won’t need weights if gravity and your bodyweight can challenge your muscles plenty. These bars are also very affordable and easy to install, so you can say goodbye to the gym.
When performing the pull-ups, make sure to keep your shoulders back, lead with your chest, and grip the bar about a shoulder-width apart. If you’re struggling with your grip, use a hand-grip strengthener for a solid hold.
When performing these, keep an underhanded grip. Because of the way your weight is distributed when performing a chin-up, the biceps get most of the load. Many find chin-ups easier than a pull-up, so if you’re a beginner, start with these.
If you wish to target your back, wide grip pull-ups are one of the best body weighted exercises you can do for this major muscle group.
If you’re not strong enough to do a single pull-up, using a bar isn’t out of the question. Performing negative pull-ups consistently will teach you the movement in a matter of a few weeks or months.
To do this exercise, bring a stool or chair out and set it under the pull-up bar.
Stand on the chair, grab onto the bar, and jump up. Use the momentum to raise your body so that your chest is leveled with the bar. Hold this starting position with your legs dangling in the air.
Then, slowly lower your body down in a controlled manner and back onto the chair. Repeat this for 8 to 10 repetitions. Increase the time it takes to lower your body with every workout session.
Mastering this movement will eventually give your back and biceps the power they need to do an unassisted bodyweight pull-up.
For this exercise, you’ll need a chair or bench. Sit in front of whichever object you choose. Set your arms behind you and onto the surface of the bench, then place your legs straight out in front of you. Next, bend your arms at a slight ninety-degree angle, and dip your body down towards the floor. Bring your body back up, and count this as one rep.
Push-ups work many muscles in the arms and should be a staple in your upper body routine. However, they mainly target the triceps and the pectoralis major. When doing push-ups, watch out for some of these common mistakes.
Keep your body in a straight line, and don’t let your hips dip down towards the floor. If you struggle to keep your body leveled, perform this exercise on your knees or in an elevated position instead.
If push-ups tend to place too much stress on your wrists, try them slightly elevated. Use a set of stairs in your home to take some of the pressure off these sensitive joints.
Shoulder taps are one of the most useful bodyweight exercises you can do. Not only do they work the core, but this exercise also challenges the deltoids, glutes, and triceps too. To perform this exercise, get into a push-up or plank position, and place your hands shoulder-width apart. Take one arm off of the ground and lightly tap the opposite shoulder. Repeat this movement and switch hands and shoulders. Perform up to 20 reps.
Incorporating These Exercises
Drafting Your Home Workout Split
If you want to gain strength and create toned arms, work your upper body between 2 and 3 times every week. But don’t work for the same muscle group two days in a row, as it’ll need time to recover. For example, a good sample split for increasing your upper body strength can like this:
- Monday/Friday: Bicep and Back Day
- Tuesday/Thursday: Tricep and Chest Day
- Wednesday: Glutes, Core, and Legs
Shaking Things Up
If you’re worried about your workout growing stale without weights, don’t despair. There are other ways you can make your workout feel more challenging.
You can modify the reps by increasing the amount of times you do each exercise. You can also up the number of sets to give your body a more thorough workout.
Another way to shake things up is to superset your exercises. For example, perform 20 push-ups, and without a resting period, move onto 20 chair dips. This will also elevate your heart rate and burn more calories by the time you’re done.
Lastly, you can also increase the time under tension while performing certain exercises. Unsure of what this means?
In summary, it means to slow down the tempo of any exercise.
Take a bicep curl, for instance. To increase the time under tension, you would take four counts to lower your arms during this eccentric phase of the movement. Then coming back up, you would count another two seconds during the concentric phase.
A negative pull-up is another example of an exercise that utilizes this method of progression. It places more stress on the body, thus creates a more challenging movement, even with the same amount of weight.
A Sample Routine
Here’s a sample routine you can use for your next at-home workout for your upper body.
Tuesday And Thursday Arm Workout (Biceps)
- Warm-up with 3 sets of negative pull-ups for 10 seconds each
- Resistance Band Bicep Curls (5×15)
- Superset: 20 Resistance Band Lateral Raises with 8 Chin Ups
- Wide Grip Pull-ups (3×15)
- Standard Pull-ups until failure
Wednesday And Friday Arm Workout (Triceps)
- Warm-up with Shoulder Taps (3×20)
- Elevated Push-ups (5×25)
- Superset Chair Dips with Standard Push-ups (4×15)
- Time Under Tension Dips (3×10)
- Repeat steps 1-4 in a circuit
Though it’s quite simple to come up with a home workout geared towards your lower body, trying to craft an upper body workout may present some issues. However, with some creativity and some of the sample exercises listed above, you can create a rigorous at-home workout, even without the weights.