Broke & Fit: A Simple At-Home Upper Body Workout

Posted September 8, 2020 by in Health + Fitness
Woman doing plank

Many people concentrate on just the biceps or triceps when doing an upper-body workout. But if you want overall strength and good posture, you’ll want to exercise your entire upper body.

The muscles we’ll focus on here are not only your biceps and triceps but your deltoids (shoulders) and your upper and lower back. You’ll improve not only your overall strength but your posture too. Double win!

You don’t need any equipment for these exercises, but if you want an extra challenge, you can get yourself a pull-up assist resistance band, like this one:

Try doing 45 seconds of each of the following exercises, giving yourself a 15-second rest in-between:

upper body workout

Triceps Push-Ups

Start in a high plank position. Your arms should be straight. When you bend your arms, keep your elbows close to your rib cage. Make sure your back is straight, especially your neck.

While you lower yourself to the floor, you should feel your triceps working along the backs of your arms.

Note: To make this exercise more accessible, you can drop your knees onto the floor as you come down. To make this exercise harder, lower on a slow count of 3, and then push back up again.

Incline (or decline) Push-Ups

Incline push-ups are basically push-ups with your body in an inclined position. You can use yoga blocks, books, a low bench, or anything that will have your hands be on a higher level than your feet.

Incline push-ups tend to be more comfortable than standard push-ups, so if you haven’t worked out in a while, these may be for you.

Decline push-ups are push-ups with your body in a declined position. In other words, your feet are higher than your hands and arms. This type of push up tends to be more challenging than your usual push-up. 

Use a bench, a chair, whatever you have handy that is stable – you don’t want to slip while exercising!

Plank Taps

Get back into a high plank position. With your right hand, tap your left shoulder, then put it back on the ground. Now repeat the same movement, but with your left hand. That’s one rep.

Repeat and enjoy the burn!

Lateral Pulls with Resistance Bands

Lateral pulls are great for your back, and there’s no need for a machine. Stand with your feet a bit further than hip-distance apart, holding a long resistance band in either hand. The further apart your hands, the tougher this exercise will be. You can also use an iron neck anchor for your neck exercise, you can check Iron Neck out.

Hold your arms up above your head, with your elbows straight. Pull the band out to the sides while squeezing the muscles between your shoulder blades. Hold and repeat.

Variation: You can work one side at a time: starting from the same position, pull on the band with one hand until that elbow reaches your ribcage. Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side. 


Lying on your stomach on a mat, stretch your arms and legs straight out from your body, touching the floor. As you exhale, come up into a ‘Superman’ position, with your arms and legs off of the floor but still straight. 

Note: Keep your neck relaxed and in line with your body. Your gaze should be towards the end of your mat.

Come back down, and repeat.

Back Extensions

This is a bit like the Superman exercise, but only focusing on lifting your upper body.

Lying face down on your mat, rest your arms along your body with your palms face up and your legs straight. On the exhale, use your abdominal muscles to lift your chest off the ground.

Note: Use your hands to support your lower back, if you need to. Exercise is really good for your back, but only if you don’t injure yourself!

To make this exercise more challenging, you could put your hands behind your head as you lift, or even hold your arms straight out ahead of you.

Side Plank

Side plank is excellent for working your core muscles as well as your upper body. Lie down on a mat on your side, with your legs straight out from your body. Put your weight on the forearm closest to the floor.

Lift your body so that your weight is only on that forearm and your feet. You can rest the upper arm along your top leg. Try to hold this position for 30 seconds, working up to 60 or 90 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

women doing side planks

Enjoy your simple, at-home upper body workout!