You know what I love? Fast and intense strength-building workouts that require little to no equipment. My favorite workouts are ones that are hard, but also short. No matter how difficult, I figure I can do anything for 20 minutes or less. This bodyweight-only upper body workout is a perfect way to build defined arms in about 20 minutes.
Strength Training – A Woman’s Secret Weapon for Anti-Aging
Strength training – also called resistance or weight training – has many proven and well-known benefits. From the obvious (increasing strength) to the more subtle (maintaining bone strength), workouts that focus on building muscle have long-lasting impacts on health.
As women, we begin to lose 3 – 5% of our muscle mass every decade, starting at age thirty. That’s the bad news. The good news is that weight training can prevent muscle and strength loss.
Not only that, maintaining or building muscle increases the stress put on your bones, which causes them to strengthen as well. Did you know that approximately half of all women over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis? Yikes – let’s keep those muscles and bones strong!
The actual movements in strength training will also help maintain mobility, increase balance, and improve cardiovascular fitness. All of these are extremely important to prevent falls and chronic disease, as well as improve quality of life.
Awesome Things About This Bodyweight Workout
So we want to build muscle, but we don’t want to spend all day doing it, right? That’s why I love short and intense resistance workouts like this one. You don’t need a gym and it’s easy to fit in to a busy schedule. On top of that, if you do one or two workouts like this every week, I have no doubt that you’ll see and feel results.
Looking for some variety? Here’s another of my favorite no-equipment arm workouts.
1. I Repeat – It’s Short – Twenty Minutes (Or Less)
In less time than it takes to stream an episode of Schitt’s Creek, you can absolutely build your upper body strength, mobility, and cardiovascular fitness.
2. It’s Challenging = Max Benefits
This workout is intentionally challenging, so that you get maximum muscle-building benefit. If you can easily do more than ten repetitions of any exercise, it’s too easy. You’re not stressing your muscles enough to build strength.
You’ll notice this workout has a lot of serious body weight moves, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and squat jumps. Don’t worry if you have to take a lot of breaks or do modified versions of these in order to finish the set. That’s OK, good even. It means you’re really working, and you’ll get stronger, faster.
3. No Gym Required
As written, this workout uses only a stability ball and a pull-up bar, and a patch of ground about the size of a yoga mat. As far as weights, the only weight you need for this workout is your own body.
No stability ball? Use a bench, chair, or sofa instead.
No pull-up bar?
- Do chair dips instead of pull-ups.
- Purchase a pull-up bar. This is the one I have – it was $20. We mounted it in a doorway five years ago, and it’s still as good as new. What I really love about this bar is that you can rotate it down and use it to do modified pull-ups, or rows (as pictured below).
4. Lower Body Cardio Component
During this workout, every four minutes, you’ll give your arms a break and do a lower body cardio exercise. I like jump squats because they really get your heart pumping and work basically all the muscles in your legs.
5. Easy to Make it Your Own
Stability ball push-ups and pull-ups are super challenging for most people, especially women. Like it or not, it’s a fact that we have less upper body strength than men of the same size. Here are some alternative or modified versions of all the exercises. Use these to work your way up to the more advanced exercises.
- Instead of a stability ball, put your feet up on a stable bench (or chair, or sofa) for Decline Push-ups.
- Do incline push-ups, with a stability ball or bench.
- Regular Push-ups.
- Modified Push-ups, where you put your knees (instead of your toes) on the floor.
- If you have a hinged pull-up bar like the one pictured above, try Standing Rows (also called Leaning Pull-ups).
- If you have dumbells, do Dumbell Rows.
- Tricep Dips on a chair.
- Jump squats are just like body weight squats, except, you jump up from the squatted position, rather than simple standing up. Then, as soon as you land from the jump, bend your knees and go into the next squat.
- Not a fan of jump squats or jumping in general? Do standing body weight squats.
- Try Jumping Jacks if you lack mobility in hips or knees.
Here’s an example of a completely modified version of the workout:
Ready to challenge yourself and build those arms?
Remember, nearly anyone can do a version of this workout – modifications are simply stepping stones to the more advanced exercises. So, put on some motivating workout tunes and start pushing and pulling your way to upper body strength!