Seven moves, no equipment, and a workout to strengthen your arm and ab muscles

This bodyweight routine includes seven exercises that will target your arm and ab muscles and you can do it anywhere

Person doing a plank in workout gear
(Image credit: Getty)

When you think of exercises that are good at targeting the arm muscles you probably imagine someone doing bicep curls, overhead presses, or dumbbell rows. However, there are plenty of ways to strengthen and tone your arms without requiring weights. This seven-move bodyweight routine is a great example and it targets the core too.

The helpful thing about some of the best workouts for arms is that they often double up as core strengthening exercises as well. When you engage your abs during an arm exercise, you are helping with energy transfer during the movement and it means your core will stop your spine from twisting in ways you don't want it to.

Britany Williams (opens in new tab) a fitness trainer and Barre instructor for the Sweat (opens in new tab) app has created a circuit-based workout designed to target both your arms and abs and it's equipment free so you can complete it at the gym or from home. It is also a good workout to do when you are on holiday and don't have access to your usual fitness equipment or space.

Williams wrote on Instagram, "Admittedly, a comprehensive bodyweight upper body workout is hard to do without overtaxing the shoulders or skipping over major muscle groups, but this one hits just a bit of it all."

To complete this workout you will do each circuit three-four times with 30 seconds of rest in between rounds. There is a tough finisher exercise involving a sumo squat joined up with quick air punches that are performed for 60 seconds but just for one round.

Watch Britany Williams' No-Equipment Arm and Ab Workout

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Of course, the visual effect of having muscular or toned arms is a goal for many. But developing strength and muscle in your upper body is also key for making everyday life easier and will help maintain independence as you age. 

The deltoids, which are your shoulder muscles assist in moving your arms forward, to the side, backward, and up and down. Your triceps, the muscle situated along the back of your upper arm helps the elbow to extend allowing your arm to straighten. Any pushing movement you do with your arms such as pushing a shopping trolley or lawn mower will utilize the tricep muscles. Then there is the biceps, positioned at the front of the upper arm, and these help with pulling motions such as closing a door.

As you can see, we depend on our arm muscles a lot and Williams has carefully selected bodyweight exercises that will target different muscles across the upper body. We've listed the steps in full below so you can try them out as and when you please.

Circuit one

  • Bear to Crossbody Pike (6 each arm)
  • Reverse Plank Hip Flexion (6 each leg)
  • Push Up + Crossbody Tap (5 each side)

Circuit two

  • Single Arm Tricep Push Up (10 each arm)
  • Shoulder CARS (8-10 reps, go SLOW)
  • Back Extension (12 reps)

Finisher

  • 60 seconds - Sumo Squat Quick Punches

The inclusion of moves like the push up with a cross body tap and the single arm tricep push-up will especially target your obliques. The obliques can give that tapered look to the abdominal muscle area and are important for helping your body perform rotational movements with greater ease. There are various other exercises that can benefit your progress when learning how to train your obliques.

If you want to add an additional challenge to your session, you can add one of the best ab rollers to the end of your workout. This small piece of equipment is a handy tool for working the upper body and core at the same time.

Jessica Downey
Jessica Downey

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.