A Pilates instructor recommends these five equipment-free exercises for stronger arms and better posture

Build strength and improve your stability using this simple but effective bodyweight routine

Woman in high plank position about to do a push-up
(Image credit: urbazon / Getty Images)

If your goal is to build strength in your arms, but you don't have any equipment or an expensive gym membership, we have good news: you can develop muscle in your upper body without any equipment at all.

I asked Veronique Ellis, founder of Evolve Pilates, to create a routine for beginners that doesn't require any special equipment and she came back with this five-move session. Perform it once or twice a week to start building strength in your arms. Once you’re confident with the push-ups and triceps dips, buy a pair of dumbbells and graduate to this 30-day arm workout challenge.

Veronique Ellis
Veronique Ellis

Veronique Ellis has been a certified Pilates instructor for more than eight years. She is also the founder of Evolve Pilates, an online fitness platform offering livestreamed and on-demand yoga, Pilates and guided meditation classes.

How to do this at-home arms workout

Do each of the exercises below in order. Perform one set of reps, rest as long as needed, then perform another set of reps of that exercise. Continue until you've completed all the sets for that exercise, then move on to the next exercise.

1. Push-up

Woman performing push-up at home

(Image credit: urbazon / Getty Images)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10-15

  • Start in a plank position with your arms extended, hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • Push back up to the starting position.
  • This movement can be made easier by placing your knees on the mat for more stability.

2. Triceps dip

Man performing triceps dip using chair

(Image credit: Ridofranz / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10-15

  • Sit on a sturdy chair or bench, with your feet on the floor and your palms on the chair by your sides, knuckles facing forward.
  • Slide your bottom off the edge, supporting your weight on straight arms.
  • Bend your elbows to 90° to lower your body.
  • Extend your arms to return to the start.

This movement can be made harder by straightening your legs. To make it easier, bend your knees and bring your feet closer to you.

3. Plank shoulder tap

Woman performing shoulder tap plank exercise

(Image credit: Oleg Breslavtsev / Getty Images)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10-12 each side

  • Start in a plank position with your arms extended, hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line.
  • Keeping your hips still, lift one hand to tap the opposite shoulder.
  • Place your hand back on the floor and repeat on the other side.

4. Arm circles

Woman holding her arms out to the sides

(Image credit: Westend61 / Getty Images)

Sets: 3 Reps: 30 sec each direction

  • Stand with your arms extended out to the sides, so your body forms a T-shape.
  • Make small circles with your arms, gradually increasing the size of the circles.
  • Reverse direction after 30 seconds.

5. Superman

Woman performing Superman exercise

(Image credit: bluecinema / Getty Images)

Sets: 3 Reps: 10-12

  • Lie facedown with your arms extended in front of you so your biceps touch your ears.
  • Lift your arms, chest, and legs off the ground simultaneously, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for a moment, then lower back down.

Benefits of this at-home arms workout

"Bodyweight arm workouts offer several benefits," says Ellis, "including convenience, improvement in muscular endurance and strength, enhancement of joint stability and mobility, and the ability to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously for a more functional approach to fitness."

While full-body workouts offer lots of benefits, especially for beginners, it can still be worth dedicating some training time to your arms.

"Strengthening the arms and upper body is essential for improving posture, upper-body functionality and overall strength," says Ellis. "Strong arms aid in performing daily tasks with ease, enhance athletic performance, and reduce the risk of injury, especially in activities involving lifting and carrying."

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.