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Bodyweight Home Exercises – Best Upper Body Moves

Recently I’ve heard too many complaints about people not being able to fit in their workouts.

And when I tell them, “Well just set a timer and do a 15 minute workout AT HOME.” (Because, let’s face it, all of us have 15 minutes we can spend working out especially if we don’t have to waste any time on travel!)

They tell me, “But I don’t have any equipment at home!”

Well that is no excuse! While I’ve written numerous articles with bodyweight exercises you can do at home, today I would like to focus on some of the best UPPER BODY moves you can do.

Many people can think of a ton of lower body moves to do (squats, squat jumps, lunges, chair step ups), they often can’t think of a variety of upper body moves to do.

So here are some great Bodyweight Upper Body Moves that you can easily do at home that will challenge everyone from the beginner to even the most advanced lifter.

There are honestly more than 10 listed here since I think we often forget about all the options out there and skip our workouts because we are bored doing the same 3 moves over and over again.

1. Handstands – Whether you are new to handstands and need to start with a modified downward dog or you can hold a handstand without any support, handstands are a GREAT upper body move. They work your shoulders, triceps upper back and core. They are also FUN and can easily be made to challenge any level. Go to Redefining Strength and download the bodyweight guide for more handstand variations!

handstand progression

2. Scapular Hold – If you’ve read more than one article on this blog, you know by now that I LOVE scapular holds or Batwings. These are a great way to work your back and improve your posture (and lessen neck and shoulder pain!). The basic variation of scapular holds is done against the wall. You can also do this against the ground if you are really up for a challenge; HOWEVER, progressing down to the ground isn’t really necessary if you really focus on activating the correct muscles while against the wall. The scapular hold can also be made into a dynamic move called the Corner Row. The corner row works the same muscles although I do find it challenges the core a bit more since you must hold your body in a straight line while moving. Both are essential for less pain and better posture!

corner row

3. Push Up variations (T-push ups, incline, close grip, wide grip, push up to fly, push up to dip, divebombers…) – Push ups can be made easier for the beginner (incline) or more advanced for the experienced exerciser (decline). They can also be made to focus more on the shoulders, chest or triceps. They are a great move to work your chest, shoulders and triceps as well as your core. Here are even more push up variations if you are bored with the ones you’ve been doing.

Towel push up

Remember the push up to fly!?!

4. Scapular Push Ups – A great push up variation to work your upper back. While you may only perform an inch or two of movement, this is a hard move that really works the lower traps. Great to improve posture and alleviate neck and shoulder pain! You can make this easier by doing it from your knees. You can also change it up by doing this move from your forearms instead of your hands.

scapular push ups

5. Crawls – Forward, backward, sideways, circles… Bear crawls, alligator crawls, crab crawls, gorilla crawls…All these crawls work your shoulders, triceps, core and even your quads. PLUS they are a great way to get in some cardio! With crawls I often hear the excuse that people don’t have enough room to do them, but all you need to be able to do is take a step or two forward and a step or two backward. And you can keep things interesting by mixing up the type of crawl you do. Shoot, sometimes simply doing crawls for your workout is enough!

6. Plank variations (plank with reach through, plank with reach out, plank holds, climbers) – Planks don’t just work your core. They are a great way to develop shoulder stability and work your upper body as well as your abs. Planks are more than the basic isometric hold we see done so often. They can also be a dynamic movement like climbers or plank with reach out.

hip hinge plank

7. Posterior Plank – A great move for your entire backside, the posterior plank works everything from the back of your shoulders down to your ankles. You can advance this move by doing a single leg variation or you can make it easier by bending your knees a bit instead of having them out straight. Every time I do this move, I can’t help but think of Flash Dance.

8. Towel Lat Pulldown – A great way to work on those pull ups even when at home without a pull up bar (although I do think a doorway pull up bar is a great investment!). This move helps work on scapular retraction and lat activation. It is also great if you have overactive upper traps and suffer from shoulder and neck pain!

lat pulldown

9. Towel Taz – One of my favorite cardio moves that also works the shoulders and can be done at home, or in your hotel room, with something we all have…A TOWEL. While you want to make sure you aren’t in a place where you can knock things over, you don’t actually need much room to do the Towel Taz. Flap the towel up and towel or press your arms in and out. Both will work your upper back, shoulders, triceps and core. (Plus if you move around quickly, your legs and cardiovascular system are going to get some great exercise as well!)

home workouts

Cardio in your home!

10. Glute Bridge with Reach – This move is a great way to work your back, butt and core as well as get a nice stretch in. It can be a great dynamic warm up and activation move as well as a challenging move to add to your workouts. Since I haven’t really ever mentioned this move before….To do this move, set up in a glute bridge. Drive through your heels and get your hips up as high as you can. Keeping your core and glutes tight, reach one arm across your body and overhead as if you are reaching for something over your shoulder and behind you. You will bridge up onto one shoulder, keeping your hips up. Come back to center, lower the hips down and then bridge back up and reach across and back over the other shoulder. Repeat alternating sides and rotating the core while in the glute bridge.

I will extend my arm a bit more and really bridge up on the one shoulder while keeping the other arm down by my side, but this gives you a basic variation.

So there are at least 10 Upper Body moves you can do at home….Maybe you can even use them today to help you stay on track this weekend….

How many of these had you forgotten about?

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