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It’s a myth that you must lift heavyweights in the gym to build a lot of muscle. You can easily build a great upper body by yourself as well as using bodyweight exercises.
Bodyweight exercises are performed using no external resistance, just the weight of your body. These may sound ineffective, but in reality, bodyweight exercises are a great workout for many reasons.
Gymnasts and calisthenics athletes primarily use bodyweight exercises to strengthen their upper body. The effectiveness of such exercises is clear when we see how these athletes are in shape.
Plus, bodyweight exercises can be made more intensive by increasing repetitions or resistance. If you’re looking for how to build big traps or better arms, keep on reading.
The Standard Pushup
Pushups are a timeless bodyweight exercise. Pushups build your chest and your arms. For the standard pushup, have your hands shoulder-width apart and feet at hip distance. Then bend your elbows, bringing your body down and push back up.
There are many different variations of pushups that you can do to target different muscle groups in the upper body. The following are our favorites besides the standard pushup.
While doing a traditional pushup, push up hard on the floor so that you come off the floor for a second or two and then land back on the ground.
Start in the dolphin pose, essentially the downward dog but with elbows on the floor. Lean forward until you’re in the elbow plank with palms face down on the floor and then push your body up.
This is a standard pushup, but with your hands in a diamond-shaped position, each thumb and index finger are touching each other. This will work out your triceps even more than a standard pushup.
Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle and then straighten again. Keep repeating this movement and be sure not to let your hips touch the ground.
The pull-up targets every muscle in your body. It’s especially great to build your arms and abs. Grab an anti-pull-up bar or a similar sturdy structure.
While holding the bar, create a curve on your lower back and stick your chest out. Then pull up your torso until your chest touches the bar. Hold this position for a while and then lower your torso back down.
Scapular Wall Hold
The scapular wall hold is a great exercise to build your back. Stand with your back against the wall. Then bend your arms and drive your elbows into the wall.
Your back should be in a straight line, your chest should be pressed out, and your shoulder blades should be pinched together. You can either hold this position or relax and repeat it. You can also opt to add more exercises if you want a bigger back workout.
The batwing is a great exercise for your upper back. To do a batwing, lie on your back with legs straight and arms extended towards the ceiling. Bring both your arms down with elbows hugging your ribcage with triceps pushing into the ground.
Push your upper back above the ground until your shoulder blades are almost touching. Then straighten your arms above your torso again and repeat.
Burpees are not only a great way to build your upper body, but they’re also a good cardio workout. To do a burpee, stand straight and then squat down until your hands touch the floor.
Kick back into a plank position and then do a pushup. Then jump your feet forward and stand up again. This is one repetition. Keep repeating the exercise for at least 15 to 20 repetitions.
To do the superman, lie face down with your arms and legs extended wide. Keep your torso still and raise your arms and legs at the same time. You should feel the stress on your back.
Try to keep your arms and legs above the floor for at least a good minute. This is a great way to strengthen your back muscles.
The plank builds your whole body. It especially targets the core and arms. Lie face down with your forearms on the floor. Your legs should be extended behind you with toes on the floor. Keeping your back straight, tighten your core, and try to stay in this position for as long as possible.
If you’ve mastered the plank and want to move on to more difficult things, consider a plank up. To do a plank up, start in a high plank with your palms on the floor.
Then bend one arm and bring the elbow to the floor. Do the same with the other arm. Now you should be in an elbow plank. Now push back up into a high plank one arm at a time. This is one repetition.
Plank jacks are another variation of the plank. Get into a high plank or an elbow plank. Then keep your core tightened and jump your feet in and out like you would in jumping jacks.
These are some of the most effective bodyweight exercises out there to help you build your upper body. It’s important to master the basic exercises, such as a plank, pushups, and pull-ups. Once you’ve mastered these, you can move on to their more difficult variations and notice the change in your body!