Training your arms at home can be a challenge, especially without weights, bands, or other fitness devices. Sometimes, our workouts require a little creativity. I’ve compiled a list of five upper-body exercises that you can do right from home. All you need is two cans, a moderate to heavy book, and a chair.
Have a seat on a chair. It’s important for the seat of the chair to have room for the heel of your hands to be place on its surface beside your hips. If the chair does not accommodate for this, you can also use the second to last step at the bottom of a staircase. Place your palms on the chair or stair, fingers hanging forward over the edge. Next, lift your hips off the chair. Maintain good posture by keeping your shoulders back. With your back straight, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor, carefully lower your hips towards the ground by bending your elbows backwards. Then, press through the palms of your hands and push yourself up. That is one repetition. Do as many as you can, rest, then do another set. Aim for 2 – 4 sets.
Amp It Up: Intensify the chair dips by holding in the bottom position for two seconds before pressing up. Lower your body, but don’t go below a 90-degree angle in your arms. Hold, then press up. That is one repetition.
You may also amp up this exercise by doing pulses at the bottom of the move. After you lower your body down, press about two inches back up (but not all the way), then lower yourself right back again.
Lying Book Extension
Find a large book. The weight of your book will serve as the weight you’re lifting, so make your selection accordingly. Next, lay with your back flat on the ground. If you don’t have a carpet, you may prefer to use a mat for this. Bend your knees, and position your feet flat on the ground. This helps you keep your back flat. Brace your abs and draw your lower back against the floor.
Holding your book with both hands, raise your arms straight up in the air. Your arms should be close to shoulder-width apart. The width of your book will affect this. It’s okay if it’s a little wider or more narrow, but try to get as close to shoulder-width as possible. Keeping your elbows in place, lower the book toward the top of your forehead. At the bottom of the move, there should be a 90-degree angle in your arms. Straighten your arms, squeezing your triceps at the top of the move. That is one repetition.
Overhead Can Press
Have a seat on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. You should be positioned with your shoulders back and your abs braced, aligning yourself with strong posture. Begin by lifting your arms so your elbows come straight out from your shoulders. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle with a can in each hand. Press the cans towards the ceiling, then return to the 90-degree start position. Up and down is one repetition. It’s important to keep your abs braced the entire time so your back doesn’t arch.
Can Bicep Curls
Stand with your heels directly beneath your hips, legs slightly bent, and abs braced. Position your elbows at the side of your body. Hold one can in each hand. Initiate the move by bending at your elbows and bring the cans in front of your shoulders, then back down to the thighs. Your elbows point down at the top of the move. The key in this movement is to keep your elbows and mid-section in place. Your forearms should be all that move.
The picture above shows an alternating bicep curl. You can choose to curl both cans at once, or one at a time. Curling one at a time gives the resting arm a little break between repetitions.
Amp It Up: To intensify this movement, focus on squeezing your biceps when the can is in front of the shoulder (at the top of the move). Pretend you’re flexing at someone. It can also be intensified through variations of the bicep curl. You could start at the bottom and only coming up to your belly button (using only the bottom half of the range). You could do top-half curls, starting at your belly button, elbows at a 90-degree angle, and raising the cans to your shoulders, then back down (using the top half of the range). You could also do a combination of the two, doing 10 at the bottom half immediately followed by 10 of the top half.
Triceps Wall Push-Up
Position your hands flat against a wall, shoulder width apart. Move them down a few inches so they are slightly lower than shoulder height. Place your feet away from the wall, standing on your toes. This will put your body at an angle. Bending your elbows down, bring your body towards the wall, then push it away. Unlike a traditional push-up, your elbows should come right beside your torso. This is a great exercise for those who are building strength to do a floor push-up.
Amp It Up:
Intensify this exercise by taking it to the floor. Place your hands flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Your legs are extended back. Brace your abs, creating a strong line from the back of your head to the back of your heels. For this push-up, you can be up on your toes or lower your knees to the floor. Pick the option that best meets your fitness level and needs.
Lower your upper body towards the floor until your chest is at elbow height, then press back up. As in the wall push-up, your elbows go back towards your hips as they bend, bringing them right beside your torso. Press back up to starting position.
Have fun with these at-home exercises! Even with light weights, you can get a workout. Focus on squeezing your muscles while they work. At the top of the lying book extension, squeeze the back of your arms. During your bicep curls, flex your biceps. Being conscious of how your muscles are working, and actively engaging them, will help you get the most out of your workout!
Thank you for joining me today, and have a wonderful day. 🙂
Lift Smart. Love Hard. Stay Positive.