5 Best No-Equipment Upper-Body Strength Exercises for Women
At-home workouts to build muscle and lose fat as a woman.
The internet is filled with taboos and myths about upper-body workouts for women. Some can even make you believe upper-body exercises aren’t feminine because they could make your body bulkier and manly, which is supposedly unacceptable. But this isn’t biologically possible due to the comparatively lower testosterone levels in women than men.
Upper-body workouts are essential for your overall health, fitness, and confidence.
If you’re also wondering whether to pick up upper body training or not, this is your sign to start today. Working on your upper body improves posture, metabolism, bone density, and risk of injury. It also enhances your strength and endurance to carry out daily tasks.
When I started working out, I heard about all the ifs and buts of upper body training. Most people suggested that doing cardio and lower body workout is enough for women. But I wanted to dive into my body transformation journey with in-depth research.
I found combining upper-body training with cardio burns more calories. Here’s how.
The upper body is composed of two muscle groups:
- Pull muscles (back and biceps)
- Push muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps)
These are the largest muscle groups used in all workouts, whether you’re into HIIT or circuit training. Keeping these muscles strong will improve your other workout sessions and help you reach your health goals faster.
The best part is that these exercises help you gain muscles from the comfort of your home without taking too much of your time.
I’ve already done these exercises, and they worked for me. In this article, I’ve mentioned the five best upper-body strength exercises for women that you can do every day.
Before we begin, I’d like to bring some facts to your knowledge so you can make the most of this routine.
- I’m not a professional trainer, and everything mentioned here is based on research and personal experience.
- Though all the exercises in this article are quite basic, they may not suit everyone. So, you can consult your physician or coach before trying them.
- While I’ve tried and tested these exercises, the individual results may vary. The key here is to listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
- As a beginner, feel free to try the modification if you find the exercises too challenging.
5 Upper Body Strengthening Exercises For Women
You don’t need any special equipment to do these exercises. You’re good to go with your mat, determination, and discipline. They’re easy to do and strengthen your upper body effectively.
Do 8–15 reps of each exercise in order unless otherwise noted. Rest as little as possible between the moves. So, let’s get started.
1. One-armed push-up variation (both sides)
This exercise builds upper body strength by targeting the chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, forearm muscles, and core. Since it’s a unilateral exercise, it also helps enhance your balance and strengthen your hip muscles.
- Begin in a kneeling position on your mat with hands shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping the knees on the mat, raise and cross your feet. Lift your right hand to keep it behind your back.
- Bend your left elbow to lower yourself gradually until your face touches the mat.
- Push your body back to the original position using only your left arm.
- Keep your core tight throughout.
- Switch sides to perform it with your right hand on the floor after 8–10 reps.
If you’re finding it too difficult, try to do it by placing your knees closer to your wrists.
2. Hindu push-up
This intense push-up version focuses on the triceps, deltoid, and pectoral muscles. Hindu push-ups strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, abdomen, and back muscles.
- Begin with a push-up starting position.
- Raise your hips into the air, keeping your arms, legs, and back straight.
- Your gaze should be directed toward your feet. Your body will be in an inverted V or downward dog position.
- Inhale through your nose and bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor.
- Exhale through your mouth and scoop your head upwards while arching your lower and upper back.
- Straighten your arms, lift your torso, and look up.
- While lowering your torso, inhale deeply to lift your hips back to the inverted V-position. Exhale through your mouth at this point.
- Repeat the entire set.
Beginners can try this exercise by starting on all fours and pushing their chest toward the floor. Once you reach the plank position (on your knees), straighten your arms and arch your back to look up as in the cobra pose. Return to the neutral position on all fours to complete one push-up. Repeat the same motion.
3. Bodyweight triceps extension
This exercise involves switching back and forth between high and low planks. It primarily targets the triceps, shoulders, lower back, and abs. It helps your upper posterior arm muscles to grow bigger and stronger.
- Begin with a high plank pose.
- Slowly bring your left elbow to the mat, followed by the right coming to a low plank.
- Lift your left elbow to place your left palm on the floor, followed by the right to return to the high plank.
- Repeat the same sequence but by lowering the right elbow first this time.
Beginners can switch between these planks by being on their knees instead of their toes.
4. Plank sidewalk
Plank sidewalk involves the abs, shoulders, and quadriceps muscles. It works on strengthening your core and improves your balance and coordination. It reduces your chances of injury.
- Get on a high plank with toes firmly pressed against the floor and hands tucked under the shoulders.
- Lift left hand and foot simultaneously and step out to your side
- Bring the right arm and leg to shoulder and hip-width apart respectively, to form the plank pose.
- You can repeat it for the length of your mat to finish 1 rep.
- Drop your knees to the floor to take support once you’re done.
Tip for beginners
Before trying plank sidewalk, beginners must take their time with full plank and its variations, like alternating push-up plank and plank with an arm lift.
5. Pike hold (20 seconds)
Pike holds primarily target your chest and shoulder muscles, including the triceps, deltoids, pectoralis major, and serratus anterior. But you’ll also feel the burn in your core, quads, and glutes.
This is best for strengthening your shoulders and enhancing your balance and stability.
- Begin with the inverted V pose similar to the Hindu push-up.
- Shifting your weight onto your shoulders, lift your heels off the mat and come onto your toes.
- Simultaneously, tuck your head under to look directly at your knees in the final position.
- Stay there for 20 seconds.
Tip for beginners
Try pike hold with slightly bent knees to ease the pose and simply focus on tucking your head. This helps you hold the pose easily and benefits equally.
This is the simplest upper-body workout routine that has worked wonders for me. Simple exercises can have numerous benefits that help us lead a healthy lifestyle with -
- improved metabolism,
- better sleep cycle,
- higher energy levels
- reduced mental stress.
Upper body strengthening exercises improve your posture, endurance, and physical performance to do daily chores. This ultimately boosts your confidence and overall health.
While working on yourself, just remember,
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” ― Rikki Rogers.