These bodyweight exercises will help you tone and strengthen all the muscles in your upper body. You can easily do them from home (or pretty much anywhere else). You don’t need weights or any other expensive exercise equipment.
Some of these exercises do require some simple things that should be available almost anywhere, like a table, a chair a towel or a door.
- 1 Pushing exercises for triceps, chest and shoulders
- 2 Pushing Exercises for your upper back
- 3 Pulling exercises for biceps, upper back and lats
Pushing exercises for triceps, chest and shoulders
Pushing exercises, where you are pushing yourself up or pushing against any type of object are a good way of strengthening your triceps, shoulders and chest.
Push-ups are probably the most well known bodyweight exercise. They are great for strengthening your chest, shoulders and triceps as well as developing core strength. It’s also a great calorie burning exercise. This is because there are so many muscles involved in doing a push-up
There are lots of variations of this exercise, but you can’t go wrong with the standard push-up.
The video below shows you how to do the push-up correctly. If the standard push-up is too hard for you right now, it also teaches you a beginner technique to help you build the strength needed for the standard push-up.
- Lie down on your stomach with your feet together and your hands directly below your shoulders.
- Push yourself up off the floor. Make sure you keep your body in a straight line from your knees to your neck (don’t arch your back or let your pelvis drop towards the floor). This is done by keeping your midsection (the muscles around your core) tight.
- Lower yourself slowly until your chest almost touches the floor.
Dive Bomber Push-Up
Not only will the Dive Bomber Push-Up blast your chest, triceps, shoulders and core, but it’s also a great exercise to increase your spine flexibility.
- Start on all fours with your feet hip-width apart and hands shoulder-width apart. Push your hips up as high as possible while keeping your back flat and your arms and legs straight so that you resemble an inverted V. You should be up on your toes.
- Lower yourself slowly by bending your arms, but keep your legs straight. While lowering yourself, push forward so that your chest almost grazes the floor (like a dive bomber).
- As you continue the forward motion, curve your back and extend your arms (without locking out) until your face is looking forward. Hold this pose for a count.
- Now reverse direction by pushing your hips up until you are back in the inverted V position.
Pushing Exercises for your upper back
Supine Push Up
Supine Push Ups are a great, equipment free way to tone your upper back (in particular the rhomboids). Even though the range of motion is very limited, the exercise is very effective.
- Lay on your back with your arms out to your side, your elbows bent and your upper arms pointing straight up.
- Lift your shoulders and torso off the ground by pushing into the floor with your elbows.
- Lower yourself back down slowly.
Pulling exercises for biceps, upper back and lats
Pushing exercises like push ups are a great way to tone and strengthen your chest and triceps. However, they don’t do much for your biceps and lats. That’s where pull exercises come in.
Let Me Ins
Let Me Ins are a great overall exercise for your biceps and upper back. All you need is a door and (optional) a towel.
- Start by facing the outer edge of an open door and grabbing hold of the doorknobs
on either side of it with each hand.
- Place your feet on either side of the door and press the door between them. Make sure you have good traction with the floor. It’s best to wear shoes. Your heels should be directly below the doorknobs.
- Lean back. Straighten your arms. Bend your knees. Stick your butt out. Create a right angle between your straight spine and your thighs.
- Lower yourself down in a controlled motion, stretching your arms and shoulder blades out as far as possible at the bottom of the movement, always maintaining a 90-degree angle between your thighs and your upper body.
To make the exercise easier you can place your feet closer to the edge of the door. To make it harder you can place your feet further forward (towards the hinges).
If gripping the doorhandle is uncomfortable, you can hook a towel around the doorknobs. This is also a good way to improve grip strength.
Pull-ups are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your biceps and upper back. This exercise is a lot tougher than the ‘Let Me In’ exercise.
You need a sturdy door for this exercise. Open the door half way and make sure it stays open by wedging it with something. Place a towel over the top edge of the door for a more comfortable grip.
- Stand facing the door and grab the top of the door with your hands shoulder width apart.
- Pull yourself up until your chin is higher than the top of the door.
- Slowly lower yourself back down until your arms are straight.
Incline/Inverted Rows using a table or bedsheet
Incline rows are another good exercise for your biceps and back. They also help strenghten the muscles around your core.
The video below shows how you can do Inverted bodyweight rows using a sturdy table or a door and a bedsheet.
The smaller the angle between your body and the floor, the harder the exercise becomes. Using the bedsheet makes it easy to change the difficulty level. If you are a beginner you will probably want to start by gripping the bedsheet at shoulder hight. Once that gets too easy you can try gripping it at hip hight (dercreasing the angle with the floor).