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Stronger arms, no weights required. Here are 6 moves you can do with no equipment

Simple exercises can give you stronger arms.

Warmer weather means short sleeve season is here, and we often work for strong toned arms this time of year. It’s not just about how you look.

Studio 5 Fitness Contributor Emily Nelson shared how strong toned arms are the foundation for safe, stable, and functional upper body movements that we rely on every day, from carrying groceries to taking your luggage down from the overhead rack… even hoisting yourself out of a pool.


Understanding Arm Anatomy

To work out our upper body the right way, we need to understand the muscle groups involved.

  • Pectoralis major, or pecs:  used for pushing motions like push-ups.
  • Latissimus dorsi: large muscles across our back that are engaged when pulling.
  • Deltoid: a triangular muscle over the shoulder important for lifting our arms and preventing shoulder injuries.
  • Biceps and triceps: responsible for elbow flexion and extension.

Effective Arm Workouts Without Weights

See video above for a visual demonstration of all of these movements.

Even without weights or equipment, you can get effective arm workouts using bodyweight resistance exercises. Emily walked through movements that engage multiple muscle groups. These exercises can be modified for all fitness levels.

  1. Start with your arms out to the side. Bend at the elbows to bring your hands in front of your chest. Push your arms straight out. Pull them back in, then extend them back out to the side again. Repeat. This exercise works your pecs, latissimus dorsi, biceps, and triceps.
  2. Start with your arms straight up over your head. Pull down, bringing your elbows out to the side. Repeat. This exercise works your rotator cuff, back, and deltoids.
  3. Bring your arms out to the side and rotate in small circles. When you finish in one direction, reverse the movement. This exercise works your biceps, triceps, rotator cuff, and deltoid.
  4. Turn your back away from a chair. Place your hands on the seat and slowly dip down. Stand back up and repeat.

Push-Ups and Modified Push-Ups

“There’s a reason why the push-up is tried and true,” Emily said. “You are literally working every muscle in your body, including your core and your legs.” It’s a full-body movement that can be modified to suit any fitness level. Emily suggested several ways to modify a push-up:

  • Countertop push-ups: find a high countertop or chair. Use that surface to lean down and push back up.
  • All-fours floor push-up: the traditional push-up, without extending your legs. Do the push-up on all fours.
  • Knee push-up: regular push-up position, but with knees touching the ground.
  • Regular push-up: as you get stronger, you can work  your way up to a traditional push-up.
  • Tricep push-up: another variation that targets the back of the arms. Point your hands straight forward for each variation.
    • Level one: start on all fours and touch your elbow to the ground, rocking your lower body back to touch your heels each time.
    • Level two: regular push-up position, knees on the ground.
    • Level three: traditional push-up position.

Arm strength is about more than just looking good in short sleeves; it’s about empowering ourselves to handle everyday tasks. By understanding our anatomy and incorporating simple, effective exercises into our routines, we can build the foundation for a stronger, more functional upper body.

Find more fitness advice from Emily on Instagram, @highfitnessemily.

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