Your 3-Circuit Bodyweight Upper-Body Workout

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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Your 3-Circuit Bodyweight Upper-Body Workout

Although most people use traditional weight exercises like bench presses and military presses to add size and power, you don’t always need to stress your body with heavy barbells and dumbbells.

In fact, with just a few amazing and simple bodyweight exercises, you can give your muscles all the stimulus they need to grow while improving your body control, balance and stability. Also, by taking a short break from weights, you can give your joints the break they need.

Try our simple and effective upper-body workout. By the time you finish, you’ll understand just how a few simple bodyweight exercises can blast your muscles just as well — if not better — than external weights.

YOUR UPPER-BODY BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT

FIRST CIRCUIT

PUSHUPS

8 reps x 6 sets

Rest: 30–45 seconds

Pushups are the staple of any upper-body workout: They build a bigger chest, bigger shoulders and sculpted arms and abs. If you find these pushups hard, put your hands on a bench. If you find these easy, put your feet on a bench or small step or box.

The move: Get in a pushup position with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keep your lower back flat and don’t let your hips sag. Lower yourself and keep your elbows close to your body as you descend.

CHINUPS

8 reps x 6 sets

Rest: 30–45 seconds

Chinups are an unbeatable way to build strong arms and a wide, lean, muscular back. If you can’t do chinups, either use a band to help pull you up (ideal) or use a lat pulldown machine (less ideal).

The move: Grab a pullup bar with your palms facing toward you and start by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pull yourself up, leading with your chest.

SECOND CIRCUIT

For this circuit, set a timer for 6 minutes and do as many sets as possible with minimal rest:

INVERTED ROWS

Reps: 8

Want a stronger back, better posture and bigger biceps without the weights? Look no further than the inverted row.

The move: Set a barbell on a power rack or Smith Machine and, from underneath, pull yourself up and touch your chest to the bar. (You can also use a suspension trainer.) Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your body straight like a plank.

1.5 DIPS

Reps: 5

Dips blast your triceps, chest and shoulder muscles in one simple motion.

The move: For dips, keep your chest out as you lower yourself and push up. Keep your eyes focused on one spot on the ground a few feet in front of you to avoid looking up and straining your neck. Keep in mind that “1.5” means to go down halfway, go back up, go down all the way and go all the way up for one repetition.

THIRD CIRCUIT

BEAR CRAWLS

15 yards x 2 sets

Rest: 30–45 seconds

For a finisher, you can’t go wrong with bear crawls. They build endurance in your arms, shoulders and abs and they develop solid movement patterns.

The move: Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.

DEADBUGS

5 reps each side x 2 sets

Rest: 30–45 seconds

This exercise targets your deep core muscles, takes pressure off your lower back and improves core stability. They look easy, but when you do them right, your tummy will be burning quickly.

The move: Lie on your back with your arms and knees in the air (like a dead bug), press your lower back into the ground, and lift your glutes off the ground. Reach out with your right arm and left leg at the same time while keeping your lower back flat on the ground, keeping your hips off the ground and exhaling all of your air. Switch sides and repeat.

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.

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