The Best Upper Body Workouts You Can Do at Home


Whether it’s a one-off session or your preferred training method , you’ll likely find yourself doing home workouts at some point. Walking into your own basement or garage gym can be a dream come true. No commute, no one else, curls on the squat rack alone . But in reality, you may be a little short on training equipment .

It’s still possible to get a great workout without fancy machines or plentiful free weights . But training your upper body at home may require a little more creativity than you’re used to . Here’s how to log some serious “pumping iron” time without the lines, distractions, or noise of the gym. Here are five upper body home workouts – with and without weights options.

Best Home Arm Workouts

Training your arms can be one of the more challenging muscle groups without dumbbell racks or cable machines . Without a well-stocked home gym to help you isolate your arms , you’ll be doing more compound exercises primarily targeting them.

Pull-ups require only one pull-up bar and will do wonders for your biceps and grip strength. Push-ups and floor presses can help you target your triceps. Just be prepared for a more laborious experience than your average missionary curls .


All you need here is a pull-up bar , or in a pinch, some exposed ceiling joists in an unfinished basement. Given the full-body nature of these exercises, doing as many reps as possible ( AMRAP ) is your best bet.

It’s worth pointing out that you should only perform these exercises on a stable surface and with a secure anchor. Safety first.

  • Pull-ups : 3x magnification
  • Eccentric Rhythm Pull-Ups : 2xAMRAP
  • Isometric bicep curls (resistance bands or dumbbells): 3 x 15
  • Close push-ups or dumbbell floor press : 4×10
  • Bench inclination : 3×12
  • Self-weighting Skull Smasher : 2xAMRAP

If you have some dumbbells and opt for floor presses, feel free to do more than 10 reps if you’re light . Press and lower very slowly to help yourself to failure on each set .

Best Home Chest Workouts

A home bust might be more akin to a gym workout than you might think. You can simulate most weight-pressing exercises with a variety of push-ups tailored to your strength or structure.

You can also use some floor sliders to help create the perfect home pec fly. Get ready for a tough chest workout. Be careful not to face.


Training chest at home will employ many different training techniques. That means employing strategies like tempo drills and suspended reps. You’ll also manipulate how much of your own bodyweight is involved in each workout to challenge yourself appropriately.

The goal of distributing these techniques is to maintain tension in the chest— stimulating your pecs with enough volume before you find it difficult to reap the benefits with proper form .

  • One-arm push-ups or floor presses : 3 x 10 per side
  • Paused push-ups : 3xAMRAP
  • Bench inclination : 4×15
  • Speed ​​Slider  Pec Flye  OR Floor Dumbbell FLYE OR 1 3/<> Rep Pushups : <>xAMRAP

You may not have the type of floor surface in your home to use speed sliders effectively. Instead, you can opt for floor dumbbell flies or 1  </>/<> rep push-ups for an added challenge.

Best Home Shoulder Workouts

Your shoulders can be uniquely challenging to train with no weights or minimal equipment. You need some pretty dynamic moves to bake them in without normal cables or dumbbells.

Rest assured, you should still be able to accomplish what you need to do with what you can find in your own home . Utilizing different angles of movement will be a huge asset.


Being able to overload your shoulders without a lot of weight requires you to have a trusty wall or set of stairs nearby. With this in mind, your core will also be working strongly to keep you stable in more inverted positions.

A few pauses and tempo drills in the right places are an easy way to add big (and safe) intensity to your workout .

  • Handstand Pushups or Arnold’s Press : 3xAMRAP
  • Paused drop push-ups or dumbbells followed by raises : 3 x 15
  • IYTW : 3×12 per position
  • Cadence Chaturanga Flow : 4×10

You may not be used to incorporating yoga into your strength training , but there’s no time like the present to learn it. Your back will thank you.

Best Home Back Exercises

A back workout that simulates all the standard problems without a gym may require a little more thought than usual. The back as a muscle group is difficult to isolate with body weight alone because of how small changes in grip can make a big difference.

But with something as simple as hauling louts, you can still target a ton of smaller muscle groups from the comfort of your own home. If you have dumbbells, add some to the mix and you can reap these benefits .


Using pull-ups and pull-ups here will help hit your lats and mid-back. A study sheet is introduced to help you perform inversions . Adding a towel will dramatically change the muscle focus of each exercise by freeing up the direction of your grip.

Finally, some bread-and-butter easy Y-lifts —with or without weights—can help work your upper back without a single dumbbell in sight.

  • Pull-ups : 3x magnification
  • Pull-ups : 2x magnification
  • Table Inversions or Dumbbell Rows : 3 x 10
  • Towel Inverted Row or Towel Dumbbell Row : 3 x 10
  • Prone  Y Raise : 2x AMRAP

If you opt for a weighted prone Y raise, you’ll probably want to use the lightest pair of dumbbells you own . Even as bodyweight exercises, these are challenging and the emphasis is on the quality of movement rather than the heavy load.

Best Home Core Workouts

If you’re used to the gym, training your core at home might be one of the easier transitions to make. A lot of the core exercises you do in the gym can be easily recovered in the comfort of your own home.

Don’t mistake this comfort for ease, though. If anything, this will be one of the harder workouts you’ll do outside of the gym .


In a pinch, simple assorted planks can provide the foundation for your home centerpiece routine. Plain old planks aren’t necessarily the only option here, however. Spice things up with belly spears, dynamic changes, and high-strength body saws.

Grab a yoga mat and a towel—this one’s going to sweat.

  • Belly Barracuda : 3×15
  • Needle threading : 3×10 in each direction
  • Plank medley: 3 x 30 seconds per position
  • Body saw : 3 x 20 seconds

If you’ve never done a plank medley, take heart . These require side panels, front panels, and finally the opposite side panels .

Build your home workout

Overloading each muscle can be made easier with machines and a variety of free weights. You can gradually increase muscle overload through other methods , steadily increasing the weight used for most exercises.

However, you can still use the principles of progressive overload while training at home with minimal settings. You’ll use many of the same tips and tricks to increase the intensity you deploy in the gym .


Improving strength with no or minimal weight is far from impossible. Use strategies like 1  <>/<> reps and paused reps to bring your muscles closer to failure .

This may mean using fewer reps than the workout may require, depending on your level of experience. As long as you push yourself hard and achieve a high perceived effort rate, you should be good to go.

unilateral training

Doing unilateral exercises will instantly increase the intensity of your workout without using a lot of weight . Exercising on one side can ruin every aspect of your workout. This helps combat left-right strength and muscle imbalances .

When you use this strategy with body weight, you’re also shifting more of your weight to one side. The one-arm push-up variation is a good example.


You can achieve muscle fatigue by adding slower eccentricities and pauses in the most difficult positions of the movement, making your workout instantly more challenging. This type of rhythm training puts tension on your muscles for extended periods of time. This is a great way to grow muscle , with or without weights.

You could try adding peak isometric shrinkage to help ensure repeatable quality when there are no weights. Aim for maximum voluntary contraction —squeeze your muscles as hard as you can during each repetition to get a second of good stability.


Doing as many rounds can be a mainstay of your home workouts. This approach will teach you to approach and respond to failures , even when you train with minimal equipment. Just make sure you don’t rush through sloppy form reps for higher rep counts . Quality over quantity will yield better returns.

Break time

Finally, minimizing rest periods between sets can help significantly increase workout intensity. Not allowing the muscle to fully recover before hitting it again does double the metabolic burn , speeding up the rate you experience muscle failure with each subsequent set.

Instead of taking two to three-minute breaks as you do at the gym , try limiting your downtime to 30 to 45 seconds when training at home.

Benefits of Training at Home

Training at home may seem like a bigger challenge than working out at the gym, but there are plenty of valuable perks that offset the lack of barbells. Having complete control over your training environment, being creative and emphasizing the fundamentals are all great benefits that you shouldn’t overlook.

Take control of your training environment

Sometimes you just aren’t in the mood to fight over equipment or navigate the hustle and bustle of a commercial gym. The option to train in your own home with complete control over music selections, break times and cleanliness to your satisfaction is hard to beat.

Not only that but having your own private space can greatly increase the efficiency of your workouts.

forced creativity

There are definite pros and cons to exercising at home without weights. A gym can help you target all the small muscle groups in your upper body with specific machines. Without these options, you’ll need a greater understanding of your own anatomy and more creativity to get the job done.

In the long run, spending some time exercising at home can ensure you‘ll reap the benefits no matter the situation.

master your machinery

One of the biggest benefits of exercising at home is how much time you have to spend on calisthenics. If you don’t have machines or free weights, you’ll likely have to incorporate exercises like push-ups or pull-ups as a staple of your upper-body workout. These exercises target many muscles in the upper body to varying degrees.

Additionally, bodyweight movements teach you to work as a synchronized unit. When you return to the weight room, you should notice that your lats feel stronger after doing a few (thousands) of pull-ups.

catch it at home

Training at home is something you are bound to struggle with at some point, either out of necessity or simply out of sheer preference. While exercising at home can be more challenging than working out at the gym , using sound training principles at home can bridge the gap.

Getting creative and making small tweaks to your workout routine can have a huge impact on your ability to effectively target every muscle group in your upper body. Master calisthenics, embrace high-repetition workouts, and you can reap some serious upper-body gains in the comfort of your own home .

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