25 Upper Body Bodyweight Exercises To Do At Home

Having an arsenal of workouts to do at home gives a bit of freedom with your schedule, allows you to stay at or close to home, overall keeps your fitness life a little more manageable.

The good news is buying thousands of dollars worth of home gym is totally not necessary. Often times you can get just a good of a workout with items you have around your home. A way to do this is by learning some bodyweight exercises that meets your needs and that you can build upon as you progress.

Progressing into other forms of bodyweight exercises means you’re growing in strength and ability. Similar to adding on weights or running an extra mile. You’re body is beginning to adapt to your current workout, and in order for you to continue challenging yourself, you would need to progress in your exercise.

In this article, we are going to break down some bodyweight exercises, that are focused on building muscle in the upper body. Also we would be categorizing which exercise is effective in building strength and for which upper body areas.

Bodyweight Exercises For Your Shoulders

Pike Push Ups

If you’ve done the downward dog in your exercise, the pike push up should feel similar. Instead of stretching though, you would be using it as a major shoulder strength builder.

How To:

  • begin in a plank position
  • raise your behind to the ceiling while fully extending arms and legs
  • perform similar push ups in this position while keeping emphasis with your shoulders

High Side Plank Raises

Using your shoulders and engaging your core, you would get a 2-for-1 style workout with the high side plank raises.

How To:

  • starting on one side of your body, leaning on one hand with arm fully extended
  • have your hips touching the floor to start
  • begin by lifting your hips until your body is straight putting the most emphasis on shoulder tension

Elevated Plank To Pike Press

For this exercises, finding a stable bench or chair is needed. You would need to elevate your feet to apply more resistance for the upper body and shoulders.

How To:

  • start in a push up position
  • place your feet in an elevate position with chair or bench
  • perform a regular push up
  • at the peak of your push up raise you buttocks area by pushing your body towards your feet

Reverse Plank Leans

This exercise has more purpose for creating slowing tension in the shoulder area and as a result building muscle. It also works great for a warm up before or a cool down after workouts.

How To:

  • start in a reverse plank with your body facing towards the sky
  • your body should be similar to that of a coffee table
  • keeping that position, slowly push towards your feet and back towards your shoulders. Making sure to engage you shoulders

Wall Walks

This may require some previous progression exercises if you’re a beginner. With this exercise you will be tested in shoulder strength.

How To:

  • start in a push up position, with feet against a wall
  • walk up the wall, with support from hands and shoulders
  • as you get higher, walk in with your hands towards the wall until you effectively have done an assisted wall stand
  • reverse the steps until back in starting position

Bodyweight Exercises For Your Arms

Double Chair Dips

This exercise is meant to be done on dip bars if they are readily available. If not, thats ok, grab two chairs that are stable and make sure that they are strong enough to manage your weight.

How To:

  • set up the chairs slightly wider then shoulder length apart with the backs facing each other
  • using the backs of the chairs, lift yourself up elevating your feet off the ground
  • and perform dips from that position

Plank Push Ups

Plank push ups are a great way to get engagement to your abs and arms. Add in some mobility push ups and you got yourself a great upper body workout.

How To:

  • start in a plank position, leaning on your elbows and feet
  • place one hand on the floor and push, followed by the other arm
  • complete the exercise by reversing your movements back to plank position

Standard Push Ups

One of the basics when it comes to bodyweight exercises. Push ups are great strength builders, that you can do anywhere.

How To:

  • start in a plank position with arms straight
  • with control, lower you body to as close to the ground as possible
  • push back up

Assisted One Arm Push Ups

If you’ve done calisthenic exercises before, you may know that this is one of the progressions of standard push ups. It puts most of the tension on one arm at a time, to give more overload and building more muscles.

How To:

  • start in the same position as a standard push up
  • have a low bench or chair close by to stabilize with one free hand
  • perform the movement of a push up with the one hand on the ground and assist the exercise with the hand on the bench or chair

Clapping Push Ups

Another calisthenic progression for standard push ups. This is a step up because you put more emphasis on the pushing motion, enough force to push yourself slightly off the ground and enough time to clap in between reps.

How To:

  • perform a regular push
  • on the way up you went to exert enough push force to give yourself enough time to clap in between each rep

Bodyweight Exercises For Your Abs

Standard Sit Ups

Quick and basic ab workout that are flexible enough to be done at home. This exercises really targets the abs and is one of the more effective exercises for your mid section.

How To:

  • start with your back on the floor and knees bent
  • bring your head up as close to your knees as possible while engaging your core

Bicycle Crunches

If done often enough you can get quite a good cardio workout from this as well. This is a popular workout among home fitness programs, mainly because of the amount of engaged areas of your body that are included.

How To:

  • start off by laying on the ground with hands clasped behind your head
  • perform a crunch
  • while doing the crunch reach one elbow to the opposite knee
  • repeat the process again with the other elbow to the other knee

Chair Sit Ups

This is similar to regular crunches, but because of the body position, creates a more difficult workout therefore engaging more of the core.

How To:

  • start on your back on the floor
  • position your legs as if you’re sitting in a chair
  • with your arms out infront, engage your core by performing crunches

Leg Raises

After you get comfortable with some of the ab exercises listed here, you are likely ready to start utilizing leg raises. This workout practices core engagement as well as coordination.

How To:

  • starting on your back with your hands under your buttocks.
  • engage the core by lifting your head and shoulders off the ground about an inch
  • keeping your legs straight, lift them up as much as you can making sure to be working your abdomen

Flutter Kicks

If the leg raises are a bit difficult, this is the perfect exercise to build up the necessary strength.

How To:

  • starting on your back with your hands under your buttocks.
  • using the motion similar to swimming, kick your feet up and down

Bodyweight Exercises For Your Back


A simple exercise that creates tension and builds muscle in your back area.

How To:

  • Lie with your chest down on the floor, reaching your arms out in front of you to form a ‘Y’ shape.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lower back to raise your arms and the top of your chest off the floor.
  • Hold for a count, then slowly return to the starting position. Don’t drop your arms or legs.

W Superman

If you’re looking to get a bit more mobility and engage more back muscles than the superman workout. This is a great workout to warm up with.

How To:

  • Lie with your chest down on the floor. Put your palms on the ground on either side of your chest in line with your head.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lower back to raise your arms and the top of your chest off the floor. Be sure to squeeze your upper back so that your arms form what looks like a ‘W’ shape when you lift them.
  • Hold for a count, then slowly return to the starting position. Don’t drop your arms or legs.

Wide Grip Push Up

Push up workout that is designed to engage parts of your back.

How To:

  • Start in a pushup/plank position, with your hands placed a few extra inches outside of your chest. Squeeze your glutes and core to keep your spine straight.
  • Bend your elbows to drop your chest down to the ground, squeezing your back at the bottom of the movement.
  • Squeeze your chest to push back up to the starting position.

Front Grip Pull ups

Changing your grips in a pull up exercise can help with isolating different areas. By using a front grip, you isolate more of your upper back and lower shoulders for a more targeted workout.

How To:

  • making sure your arms are straight, grab the pull up bar with a front grip (palms facing forward)
  • perform a pull up aiming to get your chest close to the bar
  • straighten your arms to lower yourself down in a controlled motion. Don’t perform another rep until your elbows are straight

Body Rows

This exercise would require assistance from two chairs or if you have dip bars. Make sure to use something that is stable enough and won’t tip.

How To:

  • hold on to the top of the chairs with an overhand grip at chest height with your elbows bent.
  • Plant your feet and lean back, extending your arms straight out to hang by the back of the chairs.
  • Squeeze your upper back and biceps to pull yourself up to the straps. Pause for a beat at the top.
  • Straighten out your arms to return to the starting position.

Bodyweight Exercises For Your Chest

Archer Push Ups

This workout brings mobility to your upper body as well a strength. Similar to assisted one arm push ups, you will essentially be using one arm at a time to manage most of the workout.

How To:

  • start in a push up position, with the variation of your fingers facing out and arms wider then shoulder width
  • leaning to one the arms perform a variation of the push up while keeping the other arm straight
  • using the momentum when pushing back up, rock towards the other arm and perform the same exercise

Negative Explosive Push Ups

Creating tension or slowing your exercise down are great ways to build muscles. Using negative push ups forces you to keep control of your body while doing the exercise. The tension created really engages the muscles in your arms.

How To:

  • start in a standard push up position
  • perform a regular push up, but on the decline of your workout, let it take 3-4 seconds before your reach the floor
  • when you have declined to the floor, push up as if it were a regular push up exercise

Incline Diamond Push Ups

This is a push up exercise designed to engaged many areas of your upperbody.

How To:

  • start in standard push up position
  • bring your hands together until your index fingers and thumbs touch, creating a diamond shape
  • perform the same movement as a push up

Elevated Push Ups

If you’re looking to get more weight in your workout, typically inclining or declining your body would give more driving force. With elevated push ups, more weight is directly applied to your upper body.

How To:

  • Using a chair or bench, rest your feet on top
  • in a standard push up perform a regular push up

Slow Push Ups

As we mentioned already, slowing down a strength building would make your muscles work more and longer per rep. Slow push ups creates a lot of tension, control and coordination when performing this exercise.

How To:

  • Perform a regular push up
  • for each up and down movement go slow, making each rep 3-4 seconds long.


As you can see there are countless ways in which you can get a great upper body workout and with no equipment at all. It would take a bit of creativity and may be a small learning curve but finding a workout to be done at home or park is just as good as any gym.

Some Sources:

  • https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a25620352/best-bodyweight-back-exercises/
  • https://www.youtube.com/c/OFFICIALTHENXSTUDIOS

Additional Information about Calisthenics:

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