5 best upper body bodyweight workouts

beginner, training tips, workouts -

5 best upper body bodyweight workouts

In this day and age there are a lot of different exercises that you can do to improve your fitness, increase muscle mass and burn fat. From going to the gym or attending an exercise class the variety is endless and there is something out there for everyone. One form of training that has seen an increase in popularity is calisthenics, this refers to exercises that is done with your body weight and requires very little or no equipment. These exercises are great for many people, and we are going to be sharing the best body weight exercises you can be doing for your upper body and how they can benefit you.


Why body weight?

The one thing you may be asking yourself is that “why would I do body weight exercises if I can just use weights?”, this is a very valid point but there are a few advantages to lifting your own weight opposed to lifting weights. One of these benefits is that lifting your own weight doesn’t require the expensive equipment that you may have in the gym. Many of the workouts require no equipment or very little making them great to do when these facilities are not available. Also lifting your bodyweight can also improve your cardiovascular health as it helps to burn fat which can put less pressure on your arteries.

Doing bodyweight exercises are also great for getting a good workout on a budget. This is purely due to the little amount of equipment required and there is no need for expensive gym memberships and fitness classes. All you need is yourself and a surface that can support your weight. Also lifting your own bodyweight is a good test of your strength and will get more challenging the more you do it as muscle mass will add to your bodyweight, making the movements harder. Also, as these movements are good for gaining muscle you will see and increase in strength and also muscle endurance as you tend to do more repetitions that you would compared to lifting free weights.


Push ups

One of the most common bodyweight exercises done by people all around the world is push ups. These are done by laying in a plank position with your arms supporting your upper body about shoulder width apart. You then push your weight up form the ground and then go back down mimicking a bench press. The main benefit of this exercise is that it required no equipment. This gives you the freedom to do this movement anywhere as all you need is enough space to lye down and a surface that can support your body weight. Push ups also have many different variations that target different muscle groups and also have different difficulties.

Everything Push-Up: why you need it, how to teach it, ways to progress it –  Part II - Driveline Baseball

The main muscle group targeted by push ups are the chest muscles like the pectorals. There are also many different muscles that are targeted by doing this exercise and these are the triceps, lower back and also your core. This makes push ups a compound movement as it engages many muscle groups, and this is good as it means you can make the most gains as your working more muscles and you can also burn more calories.  Push ups also allow for your upper body to be stretched out as when you lower yourself to the floor this stretched your back muscles. This can prevent the risk of injury or pain. Although push ups are great you need to make sure your form is correct as doing them wrong can also lead to injury.


Pull ups

Another common exercise that you have seen many people doing in the gym or at home is a pull up. A basic pull up is done by gripping a bar above your head about shoulder width apart, you then pull yourself up using your back and arms until your head is above the bar. This may sound pretty simple but a pull up can be quite challenging, making it a great workout to build muscle. There are many muscle groups engaged when you do this movement with the obvious being the back muscles but pull ups can also help to strengthen your arms and shoulders.

Muscular Man Doing Bulgarian Pullups Stock Photo - Download Image Now -  iStock

Pull ups are another exercise that there are many variations to. For example, you can do wide grip pull ups or weighted pull ups to make them more difficult and gain more strength and muscle. Also, this workout like many others only required a bar that your able to hang from and can hold your weight. These can be found pretty much anywhere from the playground down the road or in your home. This makes the pull up a good exercise to do when a gym and other facilities are not available. Also pull ups are quite hard to do for some people so being able to do them can look impressive.



Your triceps and chest muscles are a good part of your upper body and growing these can make you generally look bigger. Your chest is a big part of your upper body, and your triceps make up majority of your arm so training these is going to make your upper body look a lot bigger. Dips are performed to train your triceps and chest muscles, but they can also help to strengthen your shoulders. Chest dips are performed by holding two bars shoulder width apart then pushing yourself upwards. Triceps dips are usually done by suspending yourself across two benches with your legs on one and hands on the other. You then dip between the benched and push yourself up.

5,645 BEST Dips Exercise IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock

If the usual dip isn’t challenging enough then try a different variant of dips or you could even, try to add some weight to your body by either wearing a weighted vest or by hanging weights from a belt. Another amazing benefit of this exercise is that it can help to improve your lockout strength. This can help you with other types of training like a bench press for example, as you will find it easier to lock your arms out. Like every workout this does have many benefits if done correctly. If you have bad form or are just not doing the workouts right, then you stand a high chance of injuring yourself which is going to impact your fitness goals and put you out of action for a while.



A common core exercise that is known by many fitness enthusiasts and gym goers is the plan. This workout is done by lying in a press up position and on your elbows instead of your hands. You then need to keep your back flat and don’t allow it to dip. This then needs to be held for as long as you can. This exercise targets mainly your core muscles but can also help to strengthen your lower back and doing this exercise for a few minutes each day can greatly increase your core strength, which is going to help with things like balance, stabilisation and also you will likely be able to lift more.

Plank done right! Here's what to do and what not to do

The plank is a good exercise as it doesn’t require any equipment and can be done anywhere there is a stable floor. Doing this exercise can help you to build a stable posture and this can make you look better in general and help you to reduce back pain. Also, there are many different variations to the plank that can be done if you are finding the normal exercise too easy. These can include weighted planks where you place weights on your back and need to support the weight. You can also do different variations that don’t require weight like side plan, reverse plank or Spiderman planks.


Inverted row

Your back muscles are great to build if you’re looking for a big upper body and want to improve your pulling strength. Rows are a good exercise when training back as they allow you to squeeze your back muscles and can also help to train your biceps. An inverted row is when you hang from the bar in an inverted position with your feet on the floor and then row upwards. You should row as far as you can and ideally until the bar touches your chest for the full range of motion. Another word for this exercise is the Australian pull up but unlike the traditional pull up this exercise targets your arms more to give you more bicep activation.

Mit Inverted Rows effektiv Rückenschmerzen vorbeugen - FITBOOK

Although this exercise is done with your bodyweight there is one downside and that is that it requires a bar. If there isn’t a bar handy then try using other surfaces that can hold your weight and can be used. You can also have the option to add extra weight if you are finding the usual workouts too easy. This exercise can also help to remove the strain from your lower back, making it a good exercise to do if you have a history of lower back pain.


So in conclusion, if you ever find yourself away from the gym and not able to use any equipment or have limited equipment then here are a few upper body exercises that you can do. Your upper body is one of the first things people look at so making sure its in good shape is important. Here are a few workouts but there are still many others you can do for different muscle groups. These workouts can even be done with your usual workouts in the gym to add variety and something different.