20 Arm Exercises Without Weights You Can Do at Home

While many upper-body exercises involve equipment like dumbbells and barbells, arm exercises without weights are a solid way to put your muscles to the test, too. After all, the weight of your body is equipment in its own right—you can use it to load your arm muscles and make ’em work. There’s no heavy lifting required, and a gym membership is totally optional.

To be totally clear, it’s hard to work all of the muscles in your arms without weights, so arm exercises without weights are only going to be able to target certain areas, primarily the tops of the shoulders (the deltoids) and the triceps. Other arm muscles, like your biceps, typically need some external resistance to work against. But the exercises listed here are definitely useful for hitting some key muscle groups when you don’t have access to equipment.

Most arm exercises without weights are some version of planks or push-ups, which means they also require you to engage your core, so you’ll work those muscles at the same time. This means you might not feel the same concentrated burn in your arms like you would with, say, a shoulder press, and that’s totally OK. Just because these equipment-free arm exercises don’t isolate the upper body doesn’t mean they aren’t working it. And trust us, you’ll feel the proof later.

Next time you’re looking to get in these arm exercises at home, try combining 4 to 6 of the 20 moves below to create a workout—doing 45 seconds of each move, with 15 seconds of rest in between, and then repeating the whole thing three times, is a good place to start. Some of these arm exercises focus more on specific muscles like the triceps, while others will really challenge the shoulder muscles (including the deltoids and rhomboids), the pecs, and latissimus dorsi (or the lats, the broadest muscles on each side of your back). These are all important areas to strengthen, not only so you can lift heavier weights, but also so you can comfortably perform activities of daily living like carrying grocery bags or lifting your suitcase.

While these exercises are useful for anyone, no matter your fitness level, they’re especially good for beginners. When you focus on just using your own body for resistance (and don’t add weights) it’s easier to learn proper form, which can help prevent potential injuries that arise when you start lifting heavier. (And if you’re looking to make things more challenging without weights, we’ve got a few ideas on how you can do that as well.)

A few of these exercises do require a surface, like a box, bench, or step. Use a stair in your house, your sofa, a park bench, or any other similar and stable surface you can find.

Demoing the moves below are Crystal Williams, a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; Amanda Wheeler, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and cofounder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies; Teresa Hui, a native New Yorker who has run over 150 road races, including 16 full marathons; Cookie Janee, a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Denise Harris, a NASM-certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor based in New York City; and Sarah Taylor, a personal trainer and Canadian-based fitness blogger.

Ready to get started? Here are 20 arm exercises without weights you can do at home to help build your upper-body and core strength, all in one.

1. Plank Tap

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Tap your right hand to your left shoulder while engaging your core and glutes to keep your hips as still as possible.
  • Do the same thing with your left hand to right shoulder. That’s 1 rep.
  • Continue, alternating sides.
  • To make this easier, try separating your legs a little more.

Targets the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, triceps, glutes, and core.

2. Side Plank

  • Lie on your right side with your right hand directly underneath your right shoulder. Extend your legs and stack your left foot on top of your right, and then squeeze your abs and glutes to lift your hips off the floor. Extend your left hand straight up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold here for a set amount of time.

Targets the the core (especially the obliques), latissimus dorsi, and deltoids.

3. Forearm Plank Reach Out

  • Start in a forearm plank position, with your elbows directly under your shoulders, hands facing forward so your forearms are parallel, core engaged, hips level, and legs extended straight behind you.
  • From this position, reach your right hand forward and tap the floor in front of you. Return your right hand to your starting position, and then reach forward with your left hand to tap the floor in front of you.
  • Continue to alternate sides as you focus on keeping your hips steady throughout.
  • Make it easier: If this exercise feels too challenging, take your feet wider then hip-width apart. The wider your feet, the easier the move should be.

Targets deltoids, latissimus dorsi, core, and glutes

4. Plank Up-Down

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged. Place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lower your left arm so that your forearm is on the floor. Then, do the same with your right so that you’re in a forearm plank.
  • Reverse to return to a high plank. That’s 1 rep.
  • As you move, keep your hips as still as possible. To make this easier, try widening your legs a little more.

Targets the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, triceps, glutes, and core.

5. Push-up

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor. Drop to your knees if needed.
  • Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the core, pectorals, deltoids, and triceps.

6. Downward Dog to Push-Up

  • Start in a downward dog position. To get into a downward dog, start from an all-fours position with wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Engage your core, lift your knees, and straighten both legs as your head drops naturally between your biceps and you come into an inverted V-shape. In downward dog, your arms and back should be straight and your hips piked up to the ceiling. Your heels do not need to touch the floor, but you should feel a nice stretch in the back of your legs.
  • From this position, lift your right hand and reach back to tap your left toes. Allow your torso to naturally rotate open so you can tap your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, tap your shin or knee.
  • Return to downward dog and roll forward into a high plank or modified plank (by gently lowering your knees to the floor).
  • From your high plank or modified plank, do a push-up by bending both arms at the elbows and lowering your chest toward the floor in a smooth movement.
  • Push back up to return to your plank, then pike your hips to return to your downward dog. Now lift your left hand and tap your right toes.
  • After you’ve completed the toe tap, roll forward into a plank and do another push-up.
  • Continue your downward dog, to toe tap, to push-up progression.

Targets core, pectorals, deltoids, and triceps.

7. Decline Push-up

This is a push-up progression, which means it’s more challenging than a regular push-up.

  • Place your toes on a box, bench, or step. Then get into a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, core and glutes engaged.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor.
  • Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the core, pectorals, deltoids, and triceps.

8. Incline Push-up

This is a push-up regression, which means it’s less challenging than a regular push-up. The more elevated your upper body is, the easier it will be.

  • Get into a high plank with your hands on a box, bench or step, palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, and shoulders stacked directly above your wrists. Extend your legs behind you, feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and glutes.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the bench.
  • Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the core, pectorals, deltoids, and triceps.

9. Lateral Plank Walk

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Step right, leading with your right hand and right foot, maintaining a plank as you move. This is 1 rep.
  • Do your reps in one direction, and then repeat in the opposite direction.

Targets the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, triceps, glutes, and core.

10. Triceps Box Dip

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat and your back against a box or step. Place your hands on the box, fingers toward your body. If your box is high, like the one pictured here, place your hands on the box first, and then walk your heels out so you can comfortably lower your body in front of the box without hitting it.
  • Straighten your arms to lift your butt, then bend your elbows to lower yourself without sitting down completely. That’s 1 rep.
  • Keep your heels on the floor and your elbows pointed directly behind your body (not flared out to the side).

Targets the triceps and pecs.

11. Body Saw

  • Start in a forearm plank with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly underneath your shoulders, hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel, and legs extended behind you. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core, butt, and quads.
  • Rock forward on your forearms so your shoulders come in front of your elbows, and you come to the very tips of your toes. Focus on moving as far forward as you can without piking your hips or losing your core engagement.
  • Now push in the other direction, rocking as far back as possible straightening your forearms slightly, and rolling onto the balls of your feet. Again, focus on maintaining core engagement and not piking your hips.
  • Continue to rock forward and back.

Targets deltoids, latissimus dorsi, glutes, and core.

12. Bodyweight Triceps Dip

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet in front of you, resting on your heels. Place your palms on the floor behind you underneath your shoulders, fingers facing toward your body.
  • Straighten your arms to lift your butt, then bend your elbows to lower yourself without sitting down completely. That’s 1 rep.
  • Keep your heels on the floor and your elbows pointing directly behind your body (not flared out to the side).

Targets the triceps and pecs.

13. Inchworm

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
  • Bend at your waist and place your hands on the floor.
  • Walk your hands forward to come into a high plank with your hands flat, wrists stacked under your shoulders, and your core, quads, and butt engaged. Pause for a second.
  • Walk your hands back to your feet and stand to return to start. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, glutes, and core.

14. Diamond Push-up

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Walk your hands together so that your thumbs and forefingers form a triangle.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor. Straighten your arms and push your body back up. This is 1 rep.
  • To make this easier, drop your knees to the floor. Just make sure to keep your core tight and your hips tucked.

Targets the triceps, deltoids, and pecs.

15. Forearm Plank to Dolphin

  • Start in a forearm plank with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly underneath your shoulders, hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel, and legs extended behind you. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core, butt, and quads.
  • Press through your forearms and lift your hips up and back, creating an inverted V-shape with your body. Your head should be between your shoulders.
  • Pause for a second and then slowly lower back into a forearm plank. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the core, deltoids, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and quads.

16. Plank With Spinal Rotation

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged. Place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Rotate your entire body to the right into a side plank, so that your right shoulder is stacked above your right wrist and your left hand is extended toward the ceiling. Pause here for a second, then return to start. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the the core, glutes, latissimus dorsi, and deltoids.

17. Plank Jack

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Jump your feet out and in (like jumping jacks). Try not to let your butt and hips bounce as you jump.
  • Continue for a set amount of time.

Targets the the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, triceps, glutes, hip adductors (inner thigh muscles), glutes, and core.

18. Superman With Arm Extension

  • Lie facedown on a mat with your arms at shoulder height and elbows bent to 90 degrees, so you’re making a goalpost shape with your arms. This is your starting position.
  • Engage your shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings to lift your chest, arms and feet off the floor to come into a superman. Be mindful that you do not crunch your low back—this is a strength move, it’s not about flexibility or how high you can arch your back.
  • Holding in this raised position, extend your arms overhead so both arms are straight and your biceps are inline with your ears.
  • Return your arms to the goalpost position, then lower everything back down to the floor to complete the rep.

Targets deltoids, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, glutes, and core.

19. Burpee With Push-up

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides.
  • Squat and reach forward to place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick your legs straight out behind you into a high plank with your hands stacked underneath your shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then straighten them to do a push-up.
  • Jump your feet toward your hands so your lower body is in a squat. Jump straight up into the air, reaching your arms overhead. That’s 1 rep.

Targets the deltoids, triceps, pecs, core, legs, and glutes.

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