Everyone wants a strong, sculpted upper body. But, not everyone has access to a gym and weights. Or, maybe they do, but they’re not able to lift them because of an injury.
Luckily, there are lots of other ways to strengthen the muscles in the upper body without lifting heavy weights, including the three methods listed below.
1. Bodyweight Exercises
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most popular option for training the upper body without weights is bodyweight exercises.
Bodyweight training is great for building muscle and improving functional movements. Some bodyweight exercises that everyone should incorporate into their training regimen include:
Chest dips between parallel bars or sturdy chairs
You can do bodyweight exercises anywhere, so you never have an excuse to skip an upper body workout.
It’s also easy to switch these exercises up to make them easier or more challenging. For example, you can start by doing push-ups on your knees or doing negative pull-ups (starting with the chin above the bar then lowering yourself slowly down).
2. Grip Training Exercises
If you have an upper-body injury that’s preventing you from lifting weights, you should take some time to focus on hand/wrist/finger strengthening exercises.
It might not seem necessary to focus purely on your grip strength. After all, how much of a difference can the small muscles in your hands and wrists really make?
The short answer? A lot.
By improving your grip strength, you’ll have an easier time performing both upper body and lower body exercises.
Since your hands and wrists won’t get tired as easily, it’ll be easier for you to lift heavier weights or do exercises like pull-ups with good form. And, because you’ll have an easier time gripping and stabilizing, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself when you do return to the gym.
There are lots of ways that you can start working out your lower arm muscles. If you’re brand new to this kind of training, simply opening the hands and squeezing them into fists is a great place to start.
If that is easy, you can use tools like stress balls or therapy putty, which is often used to help stroke victims increase their dexterity and refine their motor skills. You can also upgrade to special grip training tools to further improve strength and mobility over time.
3. Resistance Bands
If you want more of a challenge than what you can get with bodyweight exercises alone, try adding resistance bands to your upper body workouts.
You can use resistance bands to make exercises like push-ups more challenging. They can also give you a boost while doing pull-ups to help you squeeze out a few extra reps.
In addition to adding resistance to these movements, you can use bands in place of weights to help you get a complete workout.
Some good resistance band exercises to try include:
Seated or standing rows
Standing chest presses
Resistance bands are helpful because they provide a constant source of tension for your muscles. Unlike weights, where you can sometimes get away with swinging them around and not focusing on your form, resistance bands force you to stay stable and maintain control.
They’re also great for getting workouts in on the go since they’re lightweight and easy to toss in a backpack or suitcase. They’re especially handy if you travel a lot but still want to prioritize exercise.
Whether you have an injury or can’t get to the gym regularly, there are lots of ways for you to strengthen your upper body without weights. Give these three options a try today to take your training to the next level!