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9 Arm Exercises Without Weights

Published January 04, 2019 (Revised: December 11, 2019) Read Time: 9 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

Fact-Checked By: Jenny Lau BS in Kinesiology

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<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"http://schema.org", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "https://www.warriormade.com", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/12/arm-exercises-without-weights-thumbnail-0040.jpg" } }, "headline":"9 Arm Exercises Without Weights", "datePublished":"2019-01-04", "dateModified": "2019-12-11", "description":"Dial in your nutrition and add these 9 arm exercises without weights to your workouts to get rid of that pesky arm flab.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/12/arm-exercises-without-weights-thumbnail-0040.jpg" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How do I tone my arms?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The short answer: Consistently do upper body workouts that target the muscles in your arms and shoulders. And dial in your nutrition for faster results.<br>Two things help give your arm muscles a toned look: lean muscle and low body fat percentage.<br>To tone your arms, use body weight arm exercises (like the 9 mentioned below) during workouts, and follow a healthy diet that promotes fat loss, such as the ketogenic diet. Both are necessary if you want to get results." } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">How Do I Tone My Arms?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">9 Arm Exercises You Can Do Without Weights</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Arm Exercises Without Weights: Wrap Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>When most people think of arm exercises, they think of movements that require weights, like bench presses. But doing them requires a gym membership, a commute, and perhaps even someone to spot you.</p> <p>Sounds like a lot. And it can be.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are a bunch of effective arm exercises without weights you can do right at home. They work just as well for adding muscle and are way more convenient.</p> <p>Plus, diet plays as much of a role in toning your arms as exercise does.</p> <p>Here's how to build arm muscles without weights, how nutrition plays a role in adding arm muscle or losing arm fat, and 9 exercises you can do from the comfort of your living room.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/arm-exercises-without-weights-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/arm-exercises-without-weights-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/arm-exercises-without-weights-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/arm-exercises-without-weights-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="arm exercises without weights"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>How do I tone my arms?</h2> <p><i>The short answer</i>: Consistently do upper body workouts that target the muscles in your arms and shoulders. And dial in your nutrition for faster results.</p> <p>Two things help give your arm muscles a ‘toned’ look: lean muscle and low body fat percentage.</p> <p>To tone your arms, use body weight arm exercises (like the 9 mentioned below) during workouts, and follow a healthy diet that promotes fat loss, such as the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide-to-keto" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a>. Both are necessary if you want to get results.</p> <p>(We'll look at what the science says in the two subsections below.)</p> <p>And finally, just so we're on the same page, the arm muscles that we're referring to are your: <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537148/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup></p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/7-bodyweight-bicep-workouts" rel="noreferrer">Biceps</a> (front of arm)</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-simple-tricep-workouts-for-stronger-toned-arms" rel="noreferrer">Triceps</a> (back of arm)</li> <li>Deltoids (connects the arm to the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/at-home-exercises-to-strengthen-your-shoulders/" rel="noreferrer">shoulder</a>)</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/the-3-best-forearm-exercises-made-into-workouts" rel="noreferrer">Forearms</a></li> </ul> <h3>How can I build arm muscle without weights?</h3> <p><i>The short answer</i>: Use your body weight for resistance and progressively overload the exercises you choose by increasing intensity and volume. <p>Resistance training, whether done with weights or your body alone, helps you add muscle, increase strength, and positively changes your body composition.*<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724140/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup> </p> <p>So, if your goal is to build arm muscle, do resistance training exercise regularly during your workouts. </p> <p><i>*Body composition is the distribution of fat, lean muscle, and other tissues like bone, in the body. When you add lean muscle but don't gain weight (or lose weight), your ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat improves. <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082845/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup></i></p> <p>Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to lift weights to add muscle to your arms (or anywhere else). Consider:</p> <ul> <li>A 2017 study in the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812864/" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness</i></a> found push-ups (an unweighted exercise) and bench presses (an upper body weighted exercise) resulted in similar amounts of muscle gains over an 8-week period.</li> <li>A 2018 study in <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29471132" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Experimental Gerontology</i></a> found high-intensity body weight exercises had a positive effect on body composition, muscle mass, cardiovascular fitness, and even inflammatory markers in the body.</li> <li>A 2009 study found body weight based exercise training can "substantially" improve lower body strength and increase muscle in older populations. The study does mention that body weight exercises may be more effective for people that have not been exercising previously. <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19702936" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup></li> </ul> <p>The key, as with all exercise, is to use <strong>progressive overload</strong> in your training. <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4215195/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a></sup> </p> <p>Progressive overload means making slight increases in intensity (i.e., speed of reps, difficulty of exercise) and volume (number of total reps) during your workouts. This keeps your arm muscles from plateauing and forces your muscles to adapt by adding new muscle. <h3>What is the fastest way to get rid of flabby arms? </h3> <p>‘Flab’ in your arms is excess body fat, and the fastest way to get rid of it is to eat healthy and exercise.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315740/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup> Unfortunately, you can't outwork a bad diet.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3406229/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup> So, even the best arm exercises won't do much if your nutrition isn't on point. <p>And since spot reduction, or the removal of fat from specific areas of your body (such as the arms), doesn't work, your goals should be focused around reducing total body fat percentage. <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5558659" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup></p> <p>(Though as part of your fitness routine, the exercises in the next section will strengthen the muscles in your arms, which will help them appear toned once you lean out.)</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <h2>9 arm exercises you can do without weights</h2> <p>Here are 9 exercises you can do right at home with no equipment. </p> <p>Also be sure to check out this <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68HjaJ5h9H8&feature=youtu.be" rel="nofollow noreferrer">arm-toning workout video</a> on Warrior Made's YouTube channel.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dead-bugs-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dead-bugs-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dead-bugs-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dead-bugs-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="dead bugs"> </picture> <h3>1. Dead bugs</h3> <p>Dead bugs, along with the second and third exercises on this list, are good for training the stabilizer muscles in your upper body, like the deltoids. Stabilizer muscles are the smaller, secondary muscles that help your body move better in the gym and everyday life.</p> <ul> <li>Lie on your back with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your knees bent. <li>In a controlled manner, bring your right leg and left arm out to full extension (it should take at least 3 seconds). <li>Hold for 1 second. <li>Return to the ‘dead bug’ on its back position, then repeat on the other side.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of 12 dead bugs on each side.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wall-angels-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wall-angels-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wall-angels-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/wall-angels-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="wall angels"> </picture> <h3>2. Wall angels</h3> <p>Along with being good for training stability, wall angels are good for improving shoulder flexibility.</p> <ul> <li>Stand with your back flat against the wall (a slight bend in the knees is fine, just make sure your back, hips and head are touching).</li> <li>Bring your arms up to a 90-degree angle to your body on the wall. Bend your elbows and point your fingers toward the sky.</li> <li>Inhale. Slide your arms up the wall until you feel tension. Exhale. Fight to keep your ribs down and back against the wall the whole time.</li> <li>In a controlled manner, return to where you started.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of 6 wall angels, slow and controlled, before or after your workout.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/plank-holds-with-shoulder-tap-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/plank-holds-with-shoulder-tap-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/plank-holds-with-shoulder-tap-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/plank-holds-with-shoulder-tap-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="plank holds with shoulder tap"> </picture> <h3>3. Plank holds with shoulder taps</h3> <p>Set up in a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/perfect-form-full-plank/" rel="noreferrer">perfect plank</a>, then use taps strengthen the muscles in your arms.</p> <ul> <li>From a plank position, bring your right hand off the ground to your left shoulder.*</li> <li>Place your right hand back on the ground. </li> <li>Repeat with your left hand touching your right shoulder. </li> <li>Keep your body from rocking back and forth.</li> <li>Try to touch once every second.</li> </ul> <p><i>*It may help to start with your feet wider than normal for stability. As you get stronger, move them closer together.</i></p> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of 30 shoulder taps.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/couch-dips-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/couch-dips-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/couch-dips-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/couch-dips-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="couch dips"> </picture> <h3>4. Couch dips</h3> <p>Most people that want to tone their arms say their triceps, or the backside of their arm, is the problem area. Dips are a great exercise for strengthening this muscle.</p> <p>*Important: Make sure your couch is steady and does not slip. If your furniture isn't sturdy, try using a bench or a chair.</p> <ul> <li>Place your hands on the couch so your arms are at your side and your feet are on the floor. Your butt and back should be away from the couch, slightly in front.</li> <li>Bending at the elbows, lower your body slowly until you reach 90 degrees. Go straight up and down, not forward.</li> <li>Push through your shoulders, keeping your chin away from your neck. Lock out your arms.</li> <li>Repeat.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of 10 dips. To make them harder, elevate your feet on a large book or a small chair.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/push-ups-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/push-ups-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/push-ups-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/push-ups-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="push ups"> </picture> <h3>5. Push-ups </h3> <p>Push-ups are great for adding muscle to your triceps, shoulders, and chest (use <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/perfect-form-push-ups/" rel="noreferrer">this video</a> to learn how to do push-ups with perfect form).</p> <ul> <li>Start in a high <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/plank-exercises-to-activate-your-core/" rel="noreferrer">plank</a>: four points of contact on the floor (two hands, two feet).</li> <li>Keeping your core tight, bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle until you come down to the floor.</li> <li>Press up. Squeeze your butt and belly to avoid sagging hips.</li> <li>Finish in a high plank position.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of 12 push-ups with 1 minute rest in between. Or try a variation like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/the-benefits-and-how-to-of-spiderman-pushups" rel="noreferrer">spiderman push-ups</a>.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/bicep-push-ups-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/bicep-push-ups-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/bicep-push-ups-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/bicep-push-ups-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="bicep push-ups"> </picture> <h3>6. Bicep push-ups</h3> <p>There are plenty of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/27-beginner-bodyweight-exercises-that-get-results/" rel="noreferrer">beginner push-up variations</a> out there, but bicep push-ups will challenge your arm muscles in a different way. The front of your arms get a good workout, too.</p> <ul> <li>Follow all the cues of a good push-up listed above. The difference is in <i>hand position</i>. Instead of placing your hands beneath your shoulders with your fingers facing toward your face, place your hands lower (level with your sternum) and pointing towards your feet.*</li> <li>Keep your elbows tucked close to your body as you perform the push-ups.</li> </ul> <p><i>*This may feel strange on your wrists. If so, turn them slightly outward.</i></p> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of as many good bicep push-ups as you can do with good form.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/renegade-rows-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/renegade-rows-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/renegade-rows-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/renegade-rows-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="renegade rows"> </picture> <h3>7. Renegade rows</h3> <p>Renegade rows are sometimes performed with weights, but you can use your body weight or small household objects like a water bottle, too. They're good for your biceps, shoulders, and lats.</p> <ul> <li>Start at the top of a high plank: four points of contact (two hands, two feet).</li> <li>Without rocking side to side, bring your right arm to your rib cage, keeping your elbows tucked in close. Squeeze for one second.</li> <li>Return your right arm to the ground, then repeat on the other side.</li> </ul> <p>Control each rep (read: slow it down) to make it more difficult.</p> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of 12 renegade rows on each arm.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-01-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-01-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-01-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-01-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="reaching side planks"> </picture> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-02-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-02-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-02-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/reaching-side-planks-02-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="reaching side planks"> </picture> <h3>8. Reaching side planks</h3> <p>Reaching side planks help add muscle to your arm, increase core strength, and improve stability. They're a fantastic exercise!</p> <p>Learn how to do a perfect side plank <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/perfect-form-side-plank/" rel="noreferrer">here</a>, then:</p> <ul> <li>With your right arm at your side, raise it straight above your head.</li> <li>Bring your right arm underneath your torso. Your body should rotate inward.</li> <li>Return the arm above your head, then repeat.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 2 sets of 15 side planks on either side (slow and controlled).</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/grasshoppers-0040.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/grasshoppers-0040.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/grasshoppers-0040.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/grasshoppers-LR-0040.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="grasshoppers"> </picture> <h3>9. Grasshoppers</h3> <p>The final exercise on this list is good for upper body toning and increasing flexibility in your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/glutes-101-best-exercises-for-your-gluteus-maximus/" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a>.</p> <ul> <li>Start in a high <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/plank-exercises-to-activate-your-core/" rel="noreferrer">plank</a>: four points of contact on the floor (two hands, two feet).</li> <li>Bring your right knee toward your left armpit. Let the outside of foot touch the ground. You should feel a light stretch in your glute.</li> <li>Return your right leg to where you started, then repeat on the other side.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Try this workout</strong>: 3 sets of 15 grasshoppers on each side. To make these more difficult, add a push-up in between each rep.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Arm exercises without weights: wrap up</h2> <p>If your goal is to add muscle to your arms, you can absolutely do this without lifting weights. The science shows body weight movements (like push-ups) work just as well as weighted movements.</p> <p>The key to getting results is progressive overload or making small improvements each time you workout.</p> <p>If you want to tone your arms or get rid of ‘flab,’ you'll also need to focus on nutrition. Since spot reduction, or reducing fat from specific areas of your body doesn't work, losing body fat by eating healthy foods is also important (a diet like the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide-to-keto" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a> is the approach we recommend).</p> <p>Focus on tiny advancements, stay consistent, and the results will come. For more workouts and at-home exercises, check out our <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer">latest exercise tips</a>.</p> </section> </article>

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