Jessica Gouthro from Paleohacks is joining us today to offer tips for bodyweight-focused arm workouts. Enjoy, everyone.
Do you ever have those days when you want a good arm workout, but you don’t have any workout equipment?
Curls, presses, tricep kickbacks, and rows are all great for your arms if you’re at the gym with plenty of dumbbells, barbells and cable machines. But what about those days that you just can’t make it to the gym—or simply don’t want to?
Luckily, I’m here to prove to you that a good bodyweight workout is just as good as what you can get at the gym. The best part is, you don’t need anything other than yourself and just 15 minutes at a time to sculpt and tone your arms into incredible shape.
The top three muscle groups we want to focus on when working on our arms are:
- Triceps: Our largest muscle group of the arm, located on the back of the upper arm. Its function is to extend the elbow joint (straighten your arm).
- Biceps: The muscle in the front of our upper arm that flexes the elbow joint to bring the forearm towards the upper arm (bend your arm).
- Shoulders: The muscle primarily targeted in shoulder development is the deltoid. This muscle is responsible for both raising and lowering of the arm as well as overhead pressing movements.
This bodyweight workout focuses on these three muscle groups, helping you form a balanced strengthening approach.
The result of this workout is going to be sleek, defined, strong-looking arms, but even better, you will be gaining real, functional strength at the same time.
Here’s how to do this 15-minute arm workout:
- Spend 1 minute on each of the five exercises, repeating the circuit three times without breaks between rounds.
- Beginner (30:30): Follow 30 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest. (If you need even more rest, you can take it. Good form is always more important than sticking to time!)
- Advanced (45:15): Follow 45 seconds of work with 15 seconds of rest (Just enough time for a few deep breaths and setting yourself up for the next exercise.)
This triceps move also shapes your chest, shoulders and core for a full-body functional exercise.
In a push-up position, bring your hands to touching, forming a diamond shape with fingers and thumbs.
Tighten your core, and ensure that your body is in a straight line from shoulders to feet.
Bend your elbows to lower your chest towards your hands.
Stop when you are about four inches away from the floor, then press your palms down into the ground to rise back up to the top.
Keep your elbows close to your body as you lower and lift to put the focus on the arms and shoulders.
This exercise is surprisingly challenging when done with focus and intention.
Get into a low squat, with your knees bent and back straight.
Lift your arms up behind you like you’re reaching for the back wall. Spread your fingers and flex your arms all the way straight.
On an inhale, bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle, making sure to keep your arms up high. Focus on flexing your bicep muscles.
Exhale to extend your arms straight again, flexing your triceps.
With each rep, focus on contracting your muscles.
Single Leg Pike Push-Ups
This just might be the hardest shoulder press you’ve ever tried.
Start in downward-facing dog position, on your hands and toes with your hips in the air. Make sure your hands are at least shoulder-width apart.
Lift one leg up high in the air, pointing your toes towards the ceiling.
Inhale to bend your elbows, lowering your forehead towards the ground between your hands.
Exhale to press your palms down into the ground to lift back up to straight arms.
Lower your leg back down and immediately lift your right leg.
Continue to do the same push-up move, alternating lifts of each leg for the allotted work time interval.
NOTE: Single Leg Pike Push-Up is a challenging move that requires upper body strength and balance. If you cannot do it with good form or do not feel comfortable doing it, do push-ups (or modified push-ups on your knees) instead.
Put feet about shoulder width apart with toes touching the ground. Put hands alongside chest and spread your fingers. Begin to push up, keeping elbows close to the body.
Take some of the work off the wrists by making your fingers “grip” the floor as you push up.
A modification of the traditional push-up that lessens the weight on the upper body. Follow the same routine as the traditional push-up, but use your knees as the point of your lower body touching the floor (instead of the toes).
Extend upward just as you do in a traditional push-up.
This move tones your shoulders and arms while also strengthening your lower back.
Lie belly down on the ground with arms and legs extended long.
Take a big breath in, then on the exhale, lift your arms and legs off the ground like Superman.
Inhale to lower back to the starting point.
Repeat this lifting and lowering, following the pace of your breath.
Downdog Ankle Tap Twists
This shoulder and tricep blaster is also a great spine-lengthening stretch.
Start in a downdog position with hands and feet shoulder-width apart.
Exhale, and reach your right hand towards the outside of your left ankle to tap it.
Inhale to come back to downdog, then alternate and do the same on the other side.
Continue alternating left and right, one move per breath.
Congratulations! In just 15 minutes, and with no equipment, you have worked your arms in the best way possible.
You may feel sore tomorrow, so give those arms a rest and allow at least 24-48 hours recovery before tackling this workout again.
For best results, I recommend incorporating this workout into your routine two to three times per week, spaced apart to allow for recovery.
Questions or comments about bodyweight exercises or arm strength? Share them below, and thanks for stopping by.