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7 upper body exercises to do at home

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1. Alternating punches

What it’s good for: Shoulders, chest and triceps strengthening. Cardiovascular fitness.

How to do it: Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other and bring both hands into a fist just below your chin. Extend and punch one arm out at a time in front of you creating a straight line from your shoulder to your hand. Bring hand back into a guard position and alternate punches maintaining a consistent tempo.

How to progress: Increase the speed and power of each punch and lift onto the balls of your back foot to generate more force. Grab two dumbbells/lightly weighted objects to increase resistance.

How to regress: Slow the speed, power and range of movement of each punch.

2. Side and lateral arm raises

What it’s good for: Shoulders, lateral and anterior deltoid.

How to do it: Stand tall and with feet roughly hip-distance apart, roll your shoulders back, engage your core and look straight ahead. Keeping your arms almost completely straight, raise them up straight ahead to shoulder height before controlling back down. Following this, raise both arms to the side to shoulder level and again control back down. Alternate between both movements.

How to progress: Grab two dumbbells or weight objects and perform the exercises with the added resistance. Slow the return phase of the movement down.

How to regress: Perform exercise in a seated position.

3. Shoulder press

What it’s good for: Deltoids, triceps, traps, upper chest.

How to do it: Stand with both hands either side of your shoulders with elbows bent to approximately 90 degrees and palms facing forward. Push your hands up vertically over-head and fully extend your arms before controlling back down to starting position.

How to progress: Grab 2 dumbbells or weight objects and perform the exercises with the added resistance. Slow the return phase of the movement down.

How to regress: Perform the exercise in a seated position.

4. Press ups

What it’s good for: Chest, shoulders, triceps and abdominal strengthening.

How to do it: Bring yourself down on all fours with your arms extended and shoulders directly over your hands. Whilst on your toes and keeping your hips in line with the shoulders and feet, lower your chest down towards the floor by bending the elbows. Before reaching the floor, extend the elbows and push your body back up to the starting position.

How to progress: Place your feet on a raised surface e.g. a step or the sofa and perform the exercise in a decline position.

How to regress: Place your knees on the floor and focus on completing the exercise in the same manner whilst lowering your hips down and keeping them in line with the shoulders and knees at all times.

5. Floor tricep dips

What it’s good for: Triceps, chest and shoulder strength.

How to do it: From a seated position on the floor, place your feet flat down and bring them in towards your hips with knees bent. Place both palms on the floor behind your hips with elbows bent. From here, push your hips up off the floor by extending your elbows before lowering yourself back down.

How to progress: Perform the exercise whilst raising one leg straight up in the air or place hands on the edge of a step, seat or sofa and perform a full tricep dip.

How to regress: Sit down and pause between each repetition.

6. Inchworms

What it’s good for: Strengthen muscles of anterior and posterior chain.

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet roughly hip-distance apart. Bend forward from the hips and place your hands on the floor in front of your feet. Inhale and walk your hands forward, one at a time, allowing your heels to lift off the floor as your body begins to form a straight line from heels to head. Once in an extended plank position complete one press up before reversing the movement and returning to the starting position.

How to progress: Increase the number of press ups for each repetition.

How to regress: Remove the press up element of the exercise.

7. Plank raise

What it’s good for: Shoulders, triceps, glutes, lower back, core.

How to do it: Begin in a plank position with your weight resting on your forearms and your body in a completely straight line from shoulders to ankles. Tighten your abs and without letting your hips shift, push up on to your hands one at a time. Continue to alternate between the plank and extended plank positions.

How to progress: Add a press up every time you come up into an extended plank position.

How to regress: Perform the exercise sequence on your knees ensuring your hips stay in line with your shoulders.


Leo Parnell-Notice

Leo Parnell-Notice Health and Fitness Instructor, Warwick Sport

Leo has a background in athletics and personal training and enjoys the sense of achievement from learning something new. He loves all sports, especially trying new ones.


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