While many people head to the local gym’s weight room to improve upper body strength, those without a gym membership can get a great upper body workout at home. You can do this through the use of weights, or you can choose upper body workouts that utilize your own body for the strength exercises.
In this article we’ll look at a variety of upper body workouts you can do at home, both with and without additional equipment.
Adding in Weights
If you are going to add in an upper body workout at home, either in conjunction with your current exercise routine or as a brand new exercise program, remember that you should not work out the same muscle group every day. Your muscles need time to recover and repair, whether it’s from running, cycling, doing lunges and squats, or performing an upper body workout. You will decrease your chance of injury by doing an upper body workout at home two to three times per week, adding in rest days between the workouts. This does not mean you can’t work out on the rest day; these days you might incorporate a lower body workout at home, or you might focus on cardio, yoga or Pilates. For instance, pair this upper body workout with Real Pilates, which focuses on the core, for a complete five day per week workout.
Tips to Get Started
This upper body workout at home article will focus on using the basic equipment to get a good strength workout at home and also on using your own body weight. So have no fear if your gym is not near or you prefer to workout in the comfort of your home.
Keep the following tips in mind as you begin:
- Always warm up with some type of cardio. You need to get blood flowing to your muscles before you ask them to perform strength work, so take a few minutes to jog, walk in place or do another type of cardio activity.
- Stretch after your upper body workout. Spend a few minutes stretching the muscles you just worked.
- Choose the right weights, if you will be using them. You should be able to lift the weight but it should feel difficult to complete the last few repetitions. Try out a few different weights at the store by doing the bicep curl in the aisle. (No one will judge!) If you can do fifteen or twenty reps without much stress, move to a heavier dumbbell.
- Don’t spend a ton of money! That’s the beauty of completing an upper body workout at home: You don’t have to break the bank to do it. Two weights, an exercise ball and, possibly, a mat will get you through – and you don’t necessarily even need these items. And if you aren’t interested in using workout equipment there are amazing ways to workout sans weights and still see incredible results.
- Use controlled motions when moving through strength exercises. Too often people move too quickly through the exercises, which often results in poor form. If your form is not correct you are not working the muscle the proper way, which means not only will you not see the results but you are also risking injury.
- Try to start with two to three sets of nine to twelve repetitions each, and the move up from there. When you get to the point that you can easily do three sets of fifteen to twenty of the exercise it’s time to buy heavier weights (if you are using them, of course).
Upper Body Workout at Home
Biceps: Bicep Curl
Stand with a straight back, arms by your sides, and weights in your hands. Your palms should face forward. Tuck your abdominal muscles in while creating a soft bend in your knees – don’t lock them up. Lift the weights up slowly, keeping your elbows tucked, until the weights are in front of your shoulders and then lower them slowly to the starting position. You can do this also by alternating arms. Start by lifting right arm only, keeping left arm by your side. Move through the exercise to the start position, and then lift the left arm.
Find a lower table, like a coffee table, or a bench in your home. Sit and then place your hands on the table or bench beside you, palms down, hands facing out. Lift your butt and move off of the table or bench and extend your legs. (Modify this exercise by bending your knees.) Push up on your arms while keeping your elbows soft so as not to overextend.
At this point you should be holding your body up with your arms straight and your butt off and slightly away from the edge of the table or bench. Now, slowly lower your body until your elbows are bent at around a 90 degree angle, keeping your back close to the bench and your legs straight or bent. Then press down into the table or bench to lift your body up to the starting position. Bending legs will assist those who need some modification.
Triceps: Tricep Extension
Stand tall, abdominals tucked in, a slight bend in the knees. Place the weight in your hands and then lift your arms over your head. You will hold the weight at one end and let the bottom hang. Keep your elbows in and slowly lower your weight so that it is behind your head until your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle. Then slowly lift the weight back up again.
Chest: Chest Press on the Floor, Exercise Ball or Bench
Place your back on the ball or the bench or rest on the floor if you do not have a ball or bench to use. If you are on the ball, steady your body using your core muscles and legs so the ball does not move around during the exercise. Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle unless you are on the floor; in this case, keep your legs extended. Hold the weights in your hands near your chest. If you are on the floor you will rest your elbows on the floor, holding the weights up.
Now, lift the weights slowly above your head until your arms are extended, keeping a soft bend in the elbow so as not to overextend. Then slowly lower the weights to the starting position.
Pairing an upper body workout with a class such as the Get fit in Ten Days with Yoga course will help you to stay lean, healthy and fit in the comfort of your own home.