Tone Your Upper Body with This No-Weight Arm Workout
Nothing says “fitness” like a nicely toned set of arms, don’t you agree? This no-weight arm workout can have your upper body toned in no time with a few effective movements that use only body weight and gravity for resistance.
Muscles Worked in an Arm Workout
You may not know it, but your arms are comprised of many muscles. Yes, you may only see people working their biceps in the gym, but it turns out, there’s a lot more to working your arms.
What are the muscles within the “arm”? The arms are made up of three main muscle groups that give your arms size, strength, and shape:
- Biceps—these are called the biceps brachii and are comprised of two heads: a long head and a short head. These help you bend your elbow, enabling you to move your hands and forearms.
- Triceps—these muscles are called the triceps brachii and consist of three heads. The muscles run from your shoulder, behind your arm, and down to the elbow. These muscles help you straighten your arm, move your arm behind your body, and assist with shoulder movements.
- Shoulders—these are called your deltoids and consist of a front, side, and back muscle (anterior, lateral, and posterior delts). They help move your arms and shoulders in all planes.
There are several types of movement you can use to tax the muscles, and various muscles need different forces applied against them. Pushing movements, pulling motions, and pressing against an immovable surface (isolateral) can all be used to work the arms. For the most part, the biceps will use pulling movements, the triceps will benefit from pushing exercises, and the shoulders can get maximum benefit from a combination of movements.
Other muscle groups worked during arm exercises include the chest, core, some back muscles, forearms, and even legs in certain exercises.
What are the Benefits of a No-Weight Arm Workout?
Convenience—talk about getting rid of excuses. If you don’t need to work out with weights, then you’ve really removed all your excuses! Do your no-weight arm workout virtually anywhere at any time.
Free—there is no cost involved when you work your arms without weights.
Gentle yet effective—bodyweight and isolateral exercises are easy on the joints and can help you get in a good workout despite injuries or restrictions.
Try These Exercises for Your No-Weight Arm Workout
1. Knee Push-Ups
Push-ups are probably the number one best no-weight arm exercise you can do. Not only are NO weights needed, push-ups work the biceps and the triceps as well as the shoulders and core.
If you’re a beginner, start on the floor on your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward until your back is straight and your legs are almost straight. Your palms should be flat on the floor a little wider than shoulder-distance apart. Keep your legs and knees together as you bend at the elbows and bring your upper body/torso toward the ground.
Once you’re a few inches from the ground, push back up through your palms and straighten your arms to bring your body back up to the starting position. This is one push-up.
2. Circle Planks
Start in the push-up position (legs out straight behind you, up on your toes, body straight, and arms straight with palms down; arms lined up below shoulders). Next, get down onto your right forearm, then get down on your left forearm. Go back to the right side and straighten the arm to push back up to the push-up position and then straighten the left arm as well. Keep doing this circular up and down in one direction for 10 repetitions and then go in the opposite direction for 10 repetitions.
3. Seated Triceps Dips
Sit on the edge of a bench, sofa, or other raised platform with your arms slightly wider than your shoulders and behind you (about a foot behind your hips). Keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Supporting your weight on your arms, push your hips in front of the bench, and bend your elbows to bring your torso downward until your elbows are bent at 90-degree angles. Next, push your torso back up to a seated position by straightening your arms and squeezing your triceps.
If you don’t have a bench or other platform, no problem. Simply sit on the floor, lift your hips up off the ground, and do the exercise from the floor.
4. Inchworms (aka caterpillars)
This exercise will work your arms, chest, shoulders, and core while focusing on balance and strength. Start in a push-up position (on your toes, legs and arms straight, palms down and directly under your shoulders). Next, “walk” your hands back toward your feet, lifting up one hand at a time and balancing on the opposite arm as you do so, until you’re in a forward fold. Then walk your hands back out to the plank position.
5. Plank Jacks
This arm and shoulder exercise will help strengthen and tone the arms while also working the core and legs. Get into an extended arm plank position, but bring your feet together, up on your toes. Next, you’ll do a “jumping jack” motion by jumping your legs out and allowing your feet to land on your toes about a foot or so apart. Jump up again to bring the feet back to the start and repeat.
6. Iso Biceps Curls
Isometric exercises don’t involve contractions of the muscle. Instead, you’ll hold a position against resistance. This will require a solid surface to press against. For example, you can sit at a table and press upward. Sit with your fists sideways on your knees. Next, bring your fists up to the bottom of the table and press upward, contracting the muscles. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
Give these no-weight arm workout a try next time you can’t get to the gym or just next time you want to train the arms. They’re convenient, free, fun, and effective!