The Best Workout for Upper Body Without Weights

Are you looking for a way to build your upper body strength without weights? You’re in luck. This article will guide you through the best workout for the upper body without weights. Get ready for a strength workout that will help you build a strong, sculpted upper body.

Quick facts: Best Workout For Upper Body Without Weights

  • ✅ High-intensity bodyweight exercises such as pushups, burpees and planks help to build upper body strength without weights (American Council on Exercise).
  • ✅ Bodyweight exercises are a great way to supplement a strength training program without the need for weights (Harvard Medical School).
  • ✅ 75-90% of your body weight can be used to effectively build upper body strength (Men’s Health).
  • ✅ Muscle activation through bodyweight exercises has been shown to be comparable to that of weight training sessions (Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research).
  • ✅ Consistent bodyweight exercise has been shown to increase strength, muscle mass and bone density (Mayo Clinic).
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    Taking a few minutes to warm up is essential before any workout session. Warm-ups help the body prepare for physical exercise by increasing the heart rate and raising body temperature. This can help minimize the risk of injury and make the workout much more efficient.

    In this section, we will discuss some of the best warm-up exercises for an upper body workout without weights:

    Light stretching

    Light stretching exercises are great for warming up the upper body muscles prior to any type of exercise. Light stretches can help to lubricate the joints, increase range of motion and reduce the likelihood of injury.

    Examples of light stretching exercises that can be done throughout the day or prior to a workout include:

    • Shoulder rolls
    • Arm circles
    • Neck rolls
    • Triceps stretches
    • Chest openers
    • Buttocks squeezes

    Additionally, dynamic stretching exercises such as jab crosses or jumping jacks are also beneficial for increasing flexibility and range of motion before starting an upper body strength training routine without weights.

    It’s important to remember that light stretching should never cause pain. Listen to your body and if you ever feel uncomfortable while attempting any stretch then stop immediately.

    Dynamic stretching

    Dynamic stretching is a warm-up exercise that involves dynamic and controlled movements. This type of stretching is beneficial for preparing the body for physical activity as it helps to increase flexibility, range of motion, and muscle coordination. It also provides a cardiovascular benefit, allowing your heart rate to slowly increase in anticipation of activity.

    Dynamic stretching involves continuous active movement rather than static positions held for a length of time which are used in static stretching. Examples include arm circles, torso rotations, knee lifts and walking lunges.

    Dynamic stretching should be done prior to an upper body workout without weights as it will help prepare the muscles by increasing blood flow and synovial fluid in the joints; aiding in muscle contraction during physical activity increases efficiency and performance while reducing risk of injury.


    When it comes to upper body workouts without weights, push-ups are often seen as one of the most effective exercises. Push-ups can help strengthen your chest, shoulders and triceps, and can be modified to target different muscle groups.

    Let’s take a look at the benefits of push-ups, and how to do them correctly:

    Standard Push-Ups

    The Standard Push-Up is the most common type of push-up and one of the best exercises for building upper body strength without weights. This exercise targets your chest and triceps muscles, as well as the anterior deltoids and serratus anterior.

    To perform a Standard Push-Up, begin in a prone position with your feet together, toes touching the ground, and arms extended upwards. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart while keeping your back straight throughout the exercise. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the ground, then press yourself upwards until you reach starting position again. Repeat this movement for recommended number of reps.

    Standard Push-Ups are a great way to strengthen upper body muscles and can easily be adapted to accommodate different fitness levels by changing hand placement or varying the number of repetitions, such as:

    • Changing hand placement
    • Varying the number of repetitions

    Wide Push-Ups

    Wide Push-Ups are an upper body strength exercise that can be done without any weights or gym equipment. This type of push-up requires you to place your hands wider than shoulder width apart. When engaging in the exercise, you push your body up and down using only your arms and core muscles to stabilize yourself. Wide push-ups are considered a challenging exercise because they put more strain on the chest muscles compared to normal push-ups.

    You can modify this exercise by putting your knees on the floor so you don’t use as much weight and strain on your arms and core. By doing this, it becomes easier for beginners to learn proper form for this type of Push-Up before attempting them fully extended.

    Wide Push-Ups make a great workout to tone and strengthen the upper body when incorporated into a regular workout routine.

    Decline Push-Ups

    Decline Push-Ups are one of the most challenging variations of the traditional push-up exercise. In decline push-ups, the body is placed in a slanted position with the feet higher than the head. This incline increases the difficulty of the exercise, preventing you from using as much power as in regular push-ups and creating more tension in your muscles to further improve strength and fitness.

    In contrast to regular push-ups, decline push-ups tend to engage more of your chest and shoulders with extra emphasis on your triceps and core. Plus, they can be done anywhere, so they’re a great choice for home workouts that don’t require any equipment. However, due to their level of difficulty, it is advised to build up strength by starting with regular or inclined/incline push-ups before attempting these:

    • Regular push-ups
    • Inclined/incline push-ups

    Diamond Push-Ups

    Diamond Push-Ups, also known as Triangle Push-Ups, target the triceps and pectoral muscles.

    To do a Diamond Push Up, start in a normal push up position with hands close together, forming a diamond or triangle shape under your chest. Make sure your fingers are pointing towards each other and your hands are pressed firmly together. From there you lower yourself down until your chest almost touches the floor and then push back up to the starting position.

    This exercise works well with other body weight exercises as it increases range of motion and works several muscle groups in the upper body. As you increase reps and sets you can intensify this exercise by:

    • Elevating your feet slightly
    • Adding some weight with either weights or a resistance band.


    Pull-ups are an excellent way to build strength and size in your upper body without the need for weights. They use your body weight to challenge your muscles, making them a great exercise for building strength and endurance. Pull-ups also allow you to target specific muscle groups in the upper body, such as the back, chest, and arms.

    Let’s discuss some of the other benefits of pull-ups:

    Regular Pull-Ups

    Regular Pull-Ups are the most basic form of upper body workout and one of the best ways to build strength and endurance without the use of weights. This exercise is often done using a chin-up bar to perform a pull up which works your back, arms and core muscles.

    In order to do this exercise, you should grab onto the bar with both hands shoulder-width apart. From there, you will pull yourself up until your chin is above bar level and slowly lower yourself back down for one repetition. As you get stronger with this exercise, start adding more repetitions or increase your range of motion for an even greater workout.

    Regular Pull-Ups provide a great full body workout and can be done from home or at the gym!


    Chin-Ups are a type of exercise typically performed with a pull-up bar. This exercise targets the upper body muscles primarily in the back, arms, and shoulders. Chin-ups involve the individual grasping the bar with an overhand grip and then pulling themselves up toward it until their chin is above the bar.

    Chin-Ups are typically used to improve upper body strength and can be useful for developing better posture since they require that you maintain proper form while doing them. The form includes pulling yourself up with your elbows pointing forward as opposed to outward which would place more strain on your shoulders and arms. Additionally, using good form improves your stability and can help reduce back pain associated with other exercises.

    Chin-Ups can be done:

    • Alone
    • With the assistance of an exercise buddy
    • With the assistance of an instructor for added support if needed.

    Towel Pull-Ups

    Towel Pull-Ups are a special type of pull-up that use two towels to add resistance to the bodyweight exercise. This variation targets the arm, shoulder, and back muscles in your upper body, making it one of the best workouts for strengthening your core and upper body muscles without weights.

    How do you do a Towel Pull-Up?

    1. Drape two towels over a pull-up bar and grasp each towel with both hands. Your palms should be facing away from your body.
    2. Engage your core, and then begin to pull yourself up towards the bar until your chin is at or above the level of the bar, making sure to keep your elbows tucked close to your sides throughout the entire motion.
    3. Lower yourself back down slowly until you’re in full extension again.

    The great thing about this exercise is that it can be performed almost anywhere—at home or even outdoors!

    Core Exercises

    Core exercises are an important part of an upper body workout, even if you don’t have weights. They help to strengthen the muscles of your back, abs, shoulders, and arms. Core exercises can also help improve posture, balance and coordination.

    Let’s take a look at some core exercises you can do to strengthen your upper body:


    The Plank is a bodyweight exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time. It is performed by resting on forearms and toes while maintaining a straight line from shoulders to feet.

    This workout builds strength in the core, including the abdominals, hips and lower back muscles as they are engaged throughout the exercise. Regularly performing Plank also helps with training your endurance, as this simple exercise requires a certain level of muscular endurance to hold the position over an extended period of time. The longer you can hold your plank form, the stronger your core becomes!

    To begin Planking properly, ensure that your elbows are lined up directly underneath your shoulders and clench your glutes and abs.

    Side Plank

    The Side Plank is a great core exercise for the upper body and can be done without weights. It works the muscles of your core, as well as those in your arms and shoulders, to challenge your stability.

    To do a Side Plank, start by lying on your side with your elbow beneath your shoulder and feet stacked one on top of the other. Engage your abdominals to lift yourself up off the ground so that only your elbow and feet are touching the ground. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds per side, then lower yourself back down to the ground.

    You can make this exercise more challenging by:

    • lifting one arm straight up in the air during the plank
    • doing an alternating leg lift at the same time.

    Both variations will increase resistance and target different muscles. This is an effective upper body workout without weights that you can do anywhere!

    Reverse Plank

    Reverse Plank is an excellent exercise to strengthen the muscles of your upper body without using weights. To do this exercise, you need to get down on the floor, into a seated position, with your arms straight out behind you and your palms flat on the ground. Then push your body off the ground using only your arms and upper back muscles until you reach a reversed seated position with your chest up in line with your head and shoulders slightly raised off the floor. To make it harder you can add a leg raise while in this position.

    This exercise targets muscles such as triceps, biceps, traps and core as it helps strengthen them all at once! Reverse Plank is an ideal workout for people looking to build upper body strength without having to purchase any special equipment or weights.

    Bird Dog

    The Bird Dog is a core exercise that’s designed to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles while promoting stability and balance. The movement also works the glutes, hamstrings, and shoulders.

    To perform it, begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. With your spine in neutral, extend one arm out in front of you while simultaneously lifting the opposite leg behind you. Hold for about 5-10 seconds before gently returning to the starting position.

    To make this exercise more challenging, try:

    • Lifting both the arm and leg off the floor at the same time
    • Adding light ankle weights for an extra challenge

    This is a great exercise for beginners to strengthen their core without needing any equipment or weights.

    Shoulder Exercises

    Shoulder exercises are an important component of any upper body workout, and there are a variety of exercises you can do to help strengthen and tone your shoulders without using weights. In this article, we’ll go over some of the best shoulder exercises to do without weights, how to do them properly, and the benefits of each one.

    Shoulder Press

    The shoulder press is a great upper body exercise used to strengthen the shoulders and arms. It can be done either with free weights or an exercise machine.

    To perform a shoulder press with free weights, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands holding a barbell at shoulder height, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Push the barbell up over your head until your arms are fully extended, then slowly lower back down to start position.

    When using an exercise machine, set the weight stack to a comfortable level and adjust the seat so that your arms can move freely while you press. As you push the weight up over your head, be sure to keep your core tight and your back straight in order to strengthen all of the muscles in your upper body and reduce strain on your back.

    Front Raise

    The front raise is a great shoulder exercise that can be done without weights. It is a compound exercise that works the muscles of the shoulder and upper back, helping to strengthen and stabilize the shoulder joint.

    To do this exercise, start with your arms outstretched in front of you at shoulder height and your palms facing outwards. Engage your core and slowly begin to raise your arms up until they are at a 90 degree angle. Hold for a few seconds before bringing them back down. Make sure you keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the entire movement, as this helps keep tension on the muscle being worked.

    The front raise is an effective way to target the muscles of the shoulders without weights. It can also be used as part of an upper body warm-up routine before more strenuous exercises such as push ups or rows. Keep in mind to take it slow and use proper form, focusing on engaging and contracting those targeted muscles throughout each repetition!

    Lateral Raise

    The lateral raise is an exercise that targets the shoulder muscles in the upper body. It is performed without weights and can be done at home with minimal equipment.

    To perform a lateral raise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Slowly lift both arms out to the side until they are parallel with the floor, then lower back down. You should feel tension in your shoulders throughout this move. Be sure to keep your torso still and try not to arch or sway your back. You can use a resistance band for added intensity if desired.

    The lateral raise is an excellent move for toning and strengthening the shoulders, as well as for improving posture and balance.

    Bent-Over Lateral Raise

    The bent-over lateral raise is a strength exercise which primarily works the rear deltoids (shoulders). This exercise is best done without weights and can be performed anywhere with just an open space.

    To perform the bent-over lateral raise, stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Bend forward at your hips while keeping your back straight. From there, lift both arms up to shoulder height in line with each other, then slowly lower them back down. Make sure to keep your shoulders down and relaxed throughout the movement and use a slow, controlled motion during both the lowering and raising phases of the exercise. This movement should be consistent throughout the entire range of motion from start to finish for maximum benefits.

    Cool Down

    Cool down is an important part of a workout routine. It helps to lower your body temperature while easing your muscles so they can recover. Cool down exercises can also help prevent muscle soreness and reduce fatigue.

    Let’s take a look at some cool down exercises that can be used after an upper body workout without weights:

    Light stretching

    After a workout, completing light stretching, particularly for the upper body, can help cool down and relax the muscles, reduce stiffness or soreness, and improve mobility. When stretching after a workout, it’s important to maintain a relaxed posture and aim for gentle flexibility rather than pushing for further gains in strength or body shape.

    Examples of upper body stretches recommended after working out include:

    • Arm swings stretch where you stand with your feet hip-width apart and swing both arms across your chest in circular motions.
    • Shoulder rolls stretch where you roll both shoulders in circles.
    • Backbend stretch where you put your arms behind your head then bend backward.

    It’s important to hold each of these stretches for at least 20 seconds before repeating a few times on each side. Stretching not only helps maintain muscle flexibility but can also reduce stress levels while improving circulation throughout the body.

    Foam Rolling

    Foam rolling is a simple, inexpensive and yet effective way to cool down after an intense upper body workout without weights. This is done by using a foam roller to apply pressure to the areas of the body that have been worked out. By rolling over the area for several repetitions, it can help to reduce muscle tension and inflammation. This can also increase mobility and blood circulation, helping you recover quicker after a workout.

    Additionally, foam rolling can help you find any weak muscles or trigger points in your body that may need extra attention during stretching before or after your workout. Foam rolling is an important part of any post-workout routine as it helps to keep your muscles healthy, flexible and injury-free.

    FAQs about: Best Workout For Upper Body Without Weights

    Q1: What is the best workout for upper body without weights?

    A1: The best workout for upper body without weights is push-ups, planks, tricep dips, shoulder taps, and mountain climbers.

    Q2: How often should I do these exercises?

    A2: Aim to do these exercises a few times a week to see noticeable results.

    Q3: How can I make these exercises more challenging?

    A3: To make the exercises more challenging, increase the number of repetitions or add a stability element.

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