Ultimate Upper Body Blast: No-Equipment, Maximum Impact

Toned arms, a rippling back, and well-sculpted shoulders….nothing is as aesthetically pleasing as a well-defined upper body.

Most people only focus on their chest and arms when talking about upper-body exercises. But your upper body consists of several important muscle groups including:

  • Pectoralis major and minor (chest)
  • Rotator cuffs
  • Deltoids (shoulders)
  • Latissimus dorsi (middle back and sides)
  • Trapezius (upper back)
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Forearm muscles

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How To Get The Most Out of Your Upper Body Workout

Maximizing your upper body routine is easy if you know what you’re doing. Here are some tips on how to maximize your gains and get the most out of your fitness journey:

  • Well-balanced workout plan. A proper upper-body workout routine should include 4 – 6 upper-body workouts that involve all the major upper-body muscle groups. Stay on track and achieve your fitness goals with a workout planner to organize and optimize your exercise routine.

This includes a mix of:

  1. Pushing exercises (shoulders, triceps and chest)
  2. Pulling exercises (upper back, biceps, and forearms)
  3. Core exercises (abdominals, lower back, obliques)

Train about 2 – 3 times per week, with at least 24-48 hours in between to give your upper body time to recover. Exercise other muscle groups or perform cardio on your ‘off’ days. Each session should include and be spaced at least 24 – 48 hours apart so that you have enough time to recover.

  • Focus on your form. When it comes to fitness, form isn’t everything, but in the long run, it’s almost everything. Bad form slows down your progress and increases your risk of injury. Some useful tips for your upper body workout include:
  1. Maintain a neutral spine when performing a push-up or plank.
  2. When lowering yourself during a push-up your elbows should only be a few inches from your body, not flared out to the sides.
  3. Pause briefly at the beginning and end of each motion.
  4. Place your hands and feet shoulder-width or slightly farther apart.
  5. Keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the workout.
  • Add a bit of a challenge. The secret to muscle growth is progressive overload. This means gradually increasing the workload placed on your muscles regularly. This stimulates muscle growth and helps burn fat by preventing your body from adapting to that particular workout intensity. 

Some great ways you can gradually increase the intensity of your workout is by increasing the number of reps, performing each exercise over a shorter amount of time, or adding some basic exercise equipment like dumbbells, resistance bands, wrist and ankle weights, and kettlebells.

  • Warm up before each session. Warming up before you exercise helps you get in the zone, makes your workout more effective, and reduces your risk of injury. A good warm-up could include some simple stretching exercises, light repetitions, or a bit of cardio to get the blood flowing.
  • Stay hydrated, but don’t overhydrate. Staying hydrated while you exercise prevents muscle cramps, reduces heat stress, builds your stamina, and helps you perform better.

The American Council on Exercise recommends taking a cup of fluid (7 to 10 ounces) every 10 to 20 minutes while exercising. For short and easy sessions water is enough, but electrolytes are the best option for longer or more intensive workouts.

  • Your nutrition matters. Your workout eating habit is one of the most important aspects of your fitness journey.

Here are a few tips on how to build an effective pre-workout meal plan:

  1. Load up on carbs right before a workout. This will give you the energy you need to complete each set. Important pre-workout carbs include oatmeal, Greek yogurt, nuts and raisins, a peanut butter sandwich, brown rice, granola bars, and bananas.
  2. Eating high-quality protein. This promotes muscle growth and healing. Some good sources of quality post-workout protein include chicken, salmon, cottage cheese, protein shakes, eggs, tuna, and protein bars.

Why Building Your Upper Body Strength Is Important

  • Improves your posture
  • Makes everyday activities like lifting and bending easier
  • Fixes muscle imbalances
  • Prevents neck and back injury, compensation by other muscle groups
  • Helps you lose weight
  • Makes you look more confident 

Eight Upper Body Workouts For Increased Strength

Read through for the ultimate upper-body no-equipment routine inspired by Pamela Reif and some tips on how to take your upper-body workout to the next level.

This article contains affiliate links which means that we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase with our link.

1. Plank with Arm Reach – 30 seconds

  • Start in a high-plank position.
  • Remember to keep your core muscles engaged for stability.
  • Extend one arm forward while balancing on the other.
  • Hold briefly and then return to the starting position.
  • Carry out the same motion with your other arm.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.

For a bit more challenge you can try this with a pair of wrist weights or a weighted vest.

No Equipment Upperbody Exercise - Plank with Arm Reach

2. Dolphin Hold – 2 sets, 30 seconds

  • Start in a high-plank position.
  • Lift your hips towards the ceiling.
  • Engage your core muscles and hold the position.
  • Hold this position for 2 sets of 30 seconds each.

Use a thick yoga mat that provides a comfortable and non-slip surface for performing the dolphin hold pose.

Upperbody Exercise at Home - Dolphin Hold

3. Lay Down Push Up – 30 seconds

  • Start in a push-up position.
  • Lower your body fully on the exercise mat with your arms by your sides and palms facing down.
  • Engage your muscles and lift your upper body off the mat.
  • Hold this position briefly and repeat this motion.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.

Add a hip thrust belt with dumbbells to further improve your workout.

Upper body Exercise without Equipment - Lay Down Push Up

4. Shoulder Circles – 30 seconds

  • Stand with your arms fully extended to both sides.
  • Circle your shoulders backward for several cycles.
  • Then, circle your shoulders forward for several cycles.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.

Use wrist weights or free weights to add another layer of challenge.

Strengthen Upperbody Exercise at Home - Shoulder Circles
Equipment Free Upper Body Home Workout

5. Flappy Bird – 30 seconds

  • Stand with your arms fully extended to both sides.
  • Move your arms up and down several times in a controlled manner like a bird’s wing.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.
Upperbody Workout Routine at Home - Flappy Birds

6. Superman – 30 seconds

  • Start face-down with your arms extended overhead.
  • Lift your arms and legs off the mat, engaging your back muscles for lift.
  • Hold this position briefly at the top.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Add a challenge to this exercise by adding a pilates ball under your abdomen elevating core activation and strengthening muscles throughout your back and glutes.

Equipment Free Upper Body Home Workout - Superman

7. Back Squeeze – 30 seconds

  • Stand or sit in an upright posture.
  • Spread your arms out to both sides and relax your shoulders.
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together while pushing your extended arms backward.
  • Hold this position briefly and return to the starting position.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.

Adding a resistance band to this exercise increases the intensity of the movement, effectively targeting the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, and arms.

Back Exercise At Home - Back Squeeze

8. Superman Reachout – 30 seconds

  • Start in the Superman pose but with your arms placed on both sides.
  • Stretch your arms forward while lifting your feet and upper body slightly off the ground.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.
Best Upperbody Workout for Women - Superman Reachout

for more visuals, be sure to check out this video by Pamela Reif.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Upper Body Exercises

How often should you train your upper body?

Train your upper body about 2 – 3 times per week. This gives your body enough time to recover in-between each upper body workout and prevents injury or burnout. During your off days you can rest, train other major muscle groups like your core or legs, or perform cardio. 

You can shorten your recovery time with post-workout recovery powder or protein milkshakes. Post-workout recovery tools like massage rollers, acupressure mats, and massage guns are also great tools for recovery.

How many exercises should I do on upper body day?

Generally, 4 – 6 upper body exercises per session are okay. However, this can vary depending on your goals, fitness levels, and the intensity of each exercise. The key is to add exercises that target several upper-body muscle groups at the same time.

Also, focus on quality over quantity by ensuring you maintain proper form throughout each exercise.

What makes a good upper body workout?

A good upper-body workout should involve the major upper-body muscle groups (chest, back, arms, shoulders). It should also contain a mix of pushing exercises (shoulders, triceps, and chest), pulling exercises (back, biceps, and forearms), and core exercises.

Each session should include 4 – 6 upper body workouts and be spaced at least 24 – 48 hours apart so that you have enough time to recover.

How can I strengthen my upper body at home?

Yes, you can strengthen your upper body at home. This could be done with bodyweight exercises or basic exercise equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, and wrist weights.

How many exercises should you perform per muscle group in an upper-body workout?

This depends on your fitness level, goals, and the intensity of each exercise. Generally, 1 – 2 workouts for each muscle group is enough. You can use a fitness planner to keep track of your routine and progress over time.

Dividing your workouts into pushing, pulling, and core exercises also allows you to work on different muscle groups at the same time. For example, a basic pushing exercise like a push-up exercise your biceps, chest, shoulders, upper back, and core. 

How can I improve my upper-body strength?

Improving your upper body strength involves several key principles:

  1. A well-balanced routine
  2. Consistency
  3. Proper form
  4. Rest
  5. A balanced diet 
  6. Tracking your progress

You are welcome to pin and share this handy workout note to your Pinterest board for future workouts.

Embracing Your Fitness Journey

Are you ready to sculpt your dream body? Get fired up with our upper-body no-equipment workout routine! Define those arms, sculpt that back, and carve those shoulders—it’s time to shine.

Join the journey to a stronger, more confident you—one rep at a time. Let’s push limits, break barriers, and unveil the power of your upper body.

Embrace the challenge and conquer your goals with this electrifying routine!

Easy upper body workout for women


I am a fitness enthusiats who is passionate about exercising, eating well and living a healthy lifestyle. Come along with me as I share some of my favourite exercise and fitness tips with you.

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