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8 Ideas for an Effective Upper Body Workout at Home

8 ideas for an effective upper body workout at home

Over the last month, the spread of COVID-19 has rocked everyone’s worlds. It’s also changed the way many people exercise.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a full gym set up in your garage, you’ve probably been scrambling to figure out how to stay in shape without a lot of workout equipment. The good news, though, is that it’s still possible to exercise and see results even if you don’t have access to a gym.

Read on for some awesome exercise ideas that will help you get in an effective upper body workout at home.

1. Overhead Press

Part of the “Big 4,” the overhead press is one of the best upper body exercises to do in the gym and at home. Overhead presses target your shoulders, of course, but they also recruit muscles in your arms, upper back, and core. Your legs and glutes get some attention, too, since you have to engage them for stability while you’re lifting weight over your head.

You might not be able to do barbell overhead presses while you’re out of the gym. You can still strengthen the same muscles used during this exercise by doing overhead press variations, though.

You can do overhead presses with resistance bands and dumbbells, for example. You can even use everyday objects in your house like water bottles or cans of soup if you don’t have any equipment.

2. Push-Ups

Push-ups are another essential at-home upper body exercise. A lot of people neglect push-ups in the gym, opting for other chest exercises like bench press and dumbbell chest press instead. The push-up works the same muscles you’d work by doing these other exercises, though, and you don’t need any equipment to do them.

There are also lots of ways to switch up push-ups to make them easier or harder. For less wrist strain, beginners can try doing incline push-ups with their hands on a bench or chair. More advanced lifters, on the other hand, can do decline push-ups with their feet elevated and hands flat on the ground.

3. Chest Press

If you do have some equipment available and want to strengthen the chest muscles in other ways, chest presses are still a viable option even while you’re working out at home.

You can do floor chest presses with dumbbells or resistance bands, for instance, or you can wrap a resistance band around a stable surface (like a table leg) and use it to do standing chest presses. You can use the same soup cans or water bottles that you used for overhead presses and put them to work for chest presses, too.

4. Rows

To continue training your back muscles during your at-home workouts, be sure to incorporate some rows into your upper body training sessions. Rows will help you build bigger and stronger lats and rhomboids, and they’re also great for your posture.

If you have resistance bands or dumbbells, you can easily do bent-over rows to train these muscles. Soup cans, water bottles, or a jug of laundry detergent all work as makeshift weights, too.

You can also wrap resistance bands around a table leg or other surface and do seated rows. This allows you to better focus on the rhomboid muscles to improve your posture.

5. Pull-Ups

In addition to rows, you also ought to try adding pull-ups to your workouts to show your back and arms so upper attention.

Pull-ups are an amazing back exercise for everyone, even those who aren’t able to do one unassisted. Just loop a resistance band around your feet and use it to give yourself some extra support.

You can also stand on a chair and work on the eccentric portion of the exercise. Lowering yourself slowly down will help you build more strength in your back as you work toward your first unassisted pull-up.

6. Plank Variations

The plank is primarily a core exercise. However, it also targets your arms, and different variations can easily be added into an upper body workout to strengthen the core and upper body at the same time.

A standard plank on the hands is a great starting point, and so is a side plank. Plank shoulder taps are a good anti-rotational exercise to throw into the mix, too.

7. Dips

To strengthen the chest and triceps, be sure to practice dips on a regular basis as well.

You can do dips on the edge of a chair with the knees bent at 90-degrees or the legs straight out in front of you. Extending your legs straight will be more challenging. You can also elevate the legs for even more of a challenge.

Another, more advanced option is to set yourself up between two barstools and practice bodyweight dips. 

8. Shoulder Raise Variations

If you only do one exercise for your shoulders, it ought to be overhead presses. There are plenty of other exercises that will help you build bigger, stronger delts, though, including shoulder raise variations.

Lateral raises are one of the most common variations. You can do them using dumbbells, resistance bands, or other objects from around your house.

To target the full shoulder, though, it helps to add in front raises and rear delt flys, too. Front raises help you grow the front portion of your shoulder, and rear delt flyes target the often-neglected back portion. Doing all three of these shoulder raises variations will help you get that coveted capped shoulder look.

Awesome Upper Body Workouts to Try Today

Clearly, you can still work your upper body at home without a lot of equipment. If you’re unsure of how to take the ideas outlined above and incorporate them into an effective workout, though, you’re in luck.

Here are three amazing upper body workouts our ProSupps athletes have put together for you to try today.

Cameron Sowder’s Upper Body Home Workout

Cameron Sowder has an incredible upper body workout you can do at home with just a few pieces of equipment: a set of dumbbells, a pull-up bar, and some resistance bands.

This workout is made up of supersets and tri-sets. Supersets involve doing two exercises back-to-back before resting, and tri-sets involve doing three exercises back-to-back before resting. It goes as follows:

Superset

  • Pull-Ups: 7x10,10,10,10,10, AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible), AMRAP
  • Push-Ups: 7x20,20,20,20,20, AMRAP, AMRAP

Superset

  • Pike Push-Ups 5x2-15
  • Shoulder Taps 5x5-10 (each side)

Tri-Set

  • Front raises 4x15-20
  • Side laterals 4x15-20
  • Rear delt flys 4x15-20

Superset

  • Bodyweight dips 3-4xAMRAP
  • Banded tricep extensions 3-4x20-40

Superset

  • Inverted rows 3-4xAMRAP
  • DB curls 3-4x25-50

Check out Cameron’s Instagram video for helpful demonstrations of each exercise.

Myko’s Upper Body Workout

Myko also has an awesome upper body workout that you can do with just some resistance bands and dumbbells. This is a circuit workout and all exercises are done back-to-back. Rest for 2-3 minutes between each circuit, which consists of the following exercises:

  • Banded push-ups (for the chest)
  • Seated banded press (for the chest)
  • Banded press (for the delts)
  • Seated laterals (for the delts)
  • One arm rows (for the back)
  • Banded rows (for the back)
  • Banded face pulls (for the rear delts and upper back)
  • Banded curls (for the biceps)
  • Banded extensions (for the triceps)

Myko recommends that beginners aim for three circuits. Intermediate lifters should do five circuits, and advanced lifters should do seven. Check out his Instagram video for demonstrations.

Becca Farr’s Full-Body Workout

This workout from ProSupps athlete Becca Farr is a full-body workout, but it features lots of exercises that are great for the upper body. Give it a try if you want to work all your major muscle groups while also showing your arms, back, and shoulders some extra attention. All you need is a set of resistance bands or dumbbells:

Warm-Up

  • Jog in place (1 minute)
  • Banded squats (15 reps)

Superset #1

  • Banded squats with shoulder press
  • Banded reverse lunges
  • Do 30 seconds of work with a 15-second rest
  • Rest for 1 minute before moving on to the next circuit

Tri-set #2

  • Seated, banded lat pull
  • Banded bicep curls
  • Banded bent over row
  • Do 30 seconds of work with a 15-second rest
  • Rest for 1 minute before moving on to the next circuit

Superset #3

  • Banded tricep pushdowns (both arms)
  • Banded single-arm tricep pushdown
  • Do 30 seconds of work with a 15-second rest
  • Rest for 1 minute before moving on to the next circuit

Superset #4

  • Banded upright row
  • Banded front raise
  • Do 30 seconds of work with a 15-second rest

Check out Becca’s Instagram video for demonstrations of each exercise.

Time for an Incredible Upper Body Workout at Home

As you can see, there are lots of ways that you can get in a great upper body workout at home even if you’re working with limited equipment. Keep these ideas in mind and try adding the workouts described above to your weekly routine. With them in your arsenal, you’ll have no trouble building a strong and lean upper body.

Are you looking for more at-home workout advice? If so, check out some of our other blog posts today, including this one on tips for staying healthy at home.

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