Upper Body Exercises at Home

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The major muscles in the upper body are the abs, pectorals, triceps, biceps, deltoids, trapezius and latissimus dorsi. These are anatomical names for the stomach, chest, arms, shoulders and back. When you are at home, your goal is to work as many of these muscles as possible with limited resources. You can achieve this with a little creativity and the help of some household tools.

Pushup Variations

A pushup is a basic body weight exercise that works the upper body. To perform this exercise, lie on the floor with your feet together and hands spaced about shoulder-width apart. Keep your abs tight and back straight as you push yourself off the floor and slowly lower yourself back down. This targets your pecs, delts and triceps all at the same time, making it a compound exercise. To place more emphasis on your upper chest and traps, perform pushups with your feet elevated on a sturdy chair or couch. Reverse your body position and place your hands on the chair to do incline pushups for your lower chest. Every one of these variations causes you to also work your abs.


Dips require one or two chairs, and they target the triceps and upper chest. Start out by standing with your back to the front of a chair. Carefully place your hands on the sides or front of the chair, walk your feet forward and hold yourself in the air with your arms fully extended. Lower yourself down by bending your elbows and push yourself back up. To increase the challenge, place another chair in front of your body and prop your heels up on it.

Towel Biceps Curls

Towel biceps curls require one towel and one or more full, gallon water jugs. The number of jugs you use depends on your current strength levels. One full jug weighs about 8 lbs. Weave the towel through the jug handle and grasp both ends with your right hand. While standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, move your right arm to your side. Keeping your upper arm still, bend your elbow and lift the jug until your palm faces your chest. Slowly lower the jug, repeat for a set of reps and switch sides.

Ab Holds

Ab holds work your abs, triceps and deltoids isometrically. This means there is no repetitive movement. To do these, sit on the edge of a chair and wrap your hands around the front or the sides. Keeping your knees bent 90 degrees, lift your body in the air until your arms are fully extended and your feet are off the floor. Your legs shoulders remain in a bent position as you do this. Hold for as long as possible and slowly lower yourself back down.