Working out is good for everyone. However, not all exercises are made the same. Different exercises target and engage different areas of the body. Focusing and repeating the same exercise might leave other areas of your body unchallenged. If you are looking for efficient ways to work out and engage the different muscles in your upper body, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are 5 awesome workouts you can try out the next time you are looking to break a sweat. The best part? These upper body workouts can be done from home with minimal equipment.


Traditional Push-Up

There is a good chance you might have done some pushups in middle school or high school as part of a gym class exercise. Even though the exercise is well known and simple, don’t brush it off. Push-ups are still one of the most effective and simple exercises anyone can do to strengthen their upper body. Pushups even have several variations to them that allow you to target different upper body muscles, making the exercise a well-rounded one. To do a traditional pushup, copy the following steps:


  1. Lie down straight on your stomach and put your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Push yourself up till your arms are fully extended and as you do, make sure to keep your core tightened and your back and legs straight.
  3. Lower yourself to a 90-degree angle arm position and then push yourself back up to a full arm extension.
  4. Make sure to keep your body and core straight throughout each pushup. Repeat as many times as you like or until you finish your set.


Bicep Curls

One thing most don’t know about bicep curls is that they help with arm and shoulder stability. This exercise usually focuses on developing biceps and front arm muscles and can be done from home with regular items lying around the home. We don’t mean official dumbbells either, but things such as two gallons of water you may have already in your pantry. True household items.


  1. Start by standing up with both weights in hand. Leave them by your side in a standing position, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the weight towards your chest. As you do, make sure to keep your back straight and your legs in place.
  3. Lower the weights again (while still keeping your legs and back straight) until the weights are back by your side


Dumbbell Bench Press

The Bench Press exercise has similar benefits to pushups but is unique in its regard. This workout targets your chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles. To get started with this exercise, you’ll need to find a flat bench and the home-item weights you used before.


  1. Lay your back on the flat bench with a weight in each hand. Raise the weights until your arms are fully extended, and then bring them down to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Let the weights rest for a second while in the 90-degree position, and then raise them again until your arms are fully extended. Repeat until your set is finished.


Lateral Raise

If you are looking to give your triceps, shoulders, and biceps a burn, then try lateral raises. This exercise will again use the home-item weights we have used in our previous exercises. This time, however, you don’t need the bench. To do this exercise:


  1. Stand up while holding both of your weights, one in each hand. Keep them by your side for the starting position.
  2. Raise both weights but keep your arms completely straight while you do. If the weights are too heavy to do this type of exercise, try using lighter weights. Trying to lift something your muscles are trained for can result in injury, so watch out.
  3. Lower the weights (while still keeping your arms straight) until they are at your side again. Repeat until you are finished with your sets.


Bent-Over Row

Bent-over row exercises are great for targeting not only upper body muscles but back muscles as well. These exercises can easily be done from home and you can use different household items for weights. To do this exercise:


  1. Start by standing up while holding a weight in each hand. Then, bend your upper body over at a 45-degree angle, while still keeping the weights at your side.
  2. With the weight in front of you at the same angle, lift them until your elbows form a 90-degree angle.
  3. Lower them down until your arms are fully extended again and then repeat the exercise until you are finished with your set.


All of these exercises provide you with various ways to target and engage your upper body. This way, you can reach your fitness goals while giving variety to your work out. If you want to round out your workout routine, check out the different classes we offer at the Y! We offer classes in cardio, strength training, and other areas of focus to help you reach your fitness goals. We also offer group and one on one training so that you feel supported and encouraged every step of the way. Get in touch with us to see how we can help you reach your fitness goals with the YMCA of Cincinnati!

YMCA of Greater Cincinnati