If you’ve been making the gym a priority in your life, it can be a real bummer when your schedule becomes too hectic to fit a workout in. You might be able to squeeze in some cardio at home, but without the dumbbells and barbells at the gym, how can you expect to really work your muscles? There’s good news for all of you free-weight fanatics — bodyweight exercises can be just as effective as moves that require weights, and you can build muscle and get fit without the usage of any weights at all. If your arms are the target (and you’re sick of the classic push-up), then you’ll have to add a few of these exercises into your routine the next time you’re stuck at home without a weight in sight.
1. Superman holds
This exercise as outlined by The Huffington Post isn’t just great for your arms, shoulders, and upper back, but you’ll feel it in your core as well. Start by lying facedown on a mat with your arms extended at shoulder-height and your legs and feet together. Then, simply lift your legs, feet, arms, and chest upward and off the ground at the same time for your first rep. Remember to squeeze your shoulders together as you lift to get the most out of this exercise. Repeat 10 reps before resting for 30 seconds, or hold the lift for 30 seconds instead.
2. Diamond push-up
You know by now how great push-ups are for building strength — they’re great for the chest, shoulders, back, and arms, and staying in a push-up position also gives your core a workout, too. The diamond push-up is a variation that’s even better than the classic, and it’s simple to do, too. Try getting in a standard push-up position, making sure that shoulders are in line with the hands and your back is flat. Bring your hands together in a diamond shape, and perform your push-up. You’ll be targeting your triceps and your chest for the most part with this move, and you can even jump your hands out to a normal push-up position for a few reps for variation. Repeat this move as many times as you can before resting.
3. Tricep dips
For a tricep dip on the ground, start in a crab-walk position with hands shoulder-width apart on your mat, keeping your legs bent slightly with feet firmly planted in place. Raise your hips and tighten your core here to create a flat plane from your chest to your knees for added difficulty. When you’re ready to begin, bend your elbows to dip down, and push back up to complete one rep. If you want even more difficulty, Popsugar suggests doing these by lifting a hand, lifting a leg, or lifting both a hand and the opposite leg for maximum muscle build.
4. Plyometric push-up
Adding plyometric moves into any workout routine is tough, and when it comes to adding them to your push-ups, you may be surprised by how quickly you tire out. The beauty of this move, as outlined by Bodybuilding, is that it’s not just a pure strength move — it’s also a cardio move and an endurance test to see just how many reps you can perform. Start this move in a classic push-up position, keeping arms fully extended at first. Lower yourself into your push-up slowly, and when you’re ready to push yourself back up, extend fully through the elbows as quickly as you can. You should aim for your hands to come off the ground — you can even add a clap at the top if you’d like. Carefully land back on your hands, and repeat.
This bodyweight arm exercise is another one that will target your chest, arms, and back while also requiring a strong core and endurance to get you through it. Livestrong explains that you need to begin in a standing position to perform an inchworm, and then you’ll bend over and reach for your toes. Once your hands reach the floor, walk your hands forward until you’re all the way in a proper push-up position. Perform a push-up, and walk your hands back in toward your toes, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Stand back up and repeat as many reps as possible.
6. Narrow chin-ups
You won’t need weights to complete this move, but having a pull-up bar is essential, and you can install one easily and cheaply in your home if you don’t have access to one in your immediate vicinity already. If you have a pull-up bar or you’re at the gym and don’t feel like heading toward the crowded free weight section, then this move is perfect for targeting your biceps and lats. To perform this move, simply grab the pull-up bar overhead, and with palms close together and facing you, pull up until your chin reaches the bar. Finish the move by lowering down slowly and with control. If these narrow chin-ups are too much of a challenge right now, then give yourself a boost up to the bar using a chair or a bench, and lower yourself down slowly to build those muscles.
7. Pike push-up
If you’re ever looking to give handstand push-ups against a wall a go, this exercise is key to building the strength and balance to do so, and your flexibility will come in handy here as well. Global Bodyweight Training explains that pike push-ups are one of the best exercises for your shoulders and lats, and you’ll definitely feel it all through your arms as well. For added difficulty and work in your core, try putting your feet on a stability ball during this move.
Start this move by getting into downward dog position — place hands shoulder-width apart on the ground in front of you, and keep feet a little bit wider than shoulders behind you. Lower the heels as far down to the floor as you can, though if you aren’t very flexible, this may be more difficult for you. Keep your hips upward and arms fully extended with your head resting between your arms — your body should create an “A” shape. Then, bend the elbows to lower down into your push-up, and push back up. Repeat for 10 reps, and relax in the downward dog position as needed.