Strengthen your arms, shoulders, and core without weights in just seven moves

This short upper body routine builds muscle and develops your abs without equipment

Man holding a plank position
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might have heard that the only way to build muscle in your upper body is to grab a set of weights and get lifting. But as this seven-move workout shows, you can develop strength in your arms, shoulders, and chest with your body weight alone, even when you're tight on time.

Traditionally, you'd want to pick up a set of the best adjustable dumbbells and take on moves like bicep curls and dumbbell presses, but you can build muscle without weights, so long as you choose the right exercises. That's where fitness YouTubers Tiff x Dan's routine comes in.

The duo has designed a short routine that'll target several areas of your upper body simultaneously and includes workout classics like push-ups and mountain climbers alongside variations like archer push-ups and shoulder taps.

There's a lot of time spent on the floor, so it's worth rolling out one of the best yoga mats if you can. The other benefit of this floor-based routine is that you hold a plank position for most of it, which works your abs and helps build core strength.

It's essential to focus on your form to get the most from your training and avoid injury. Fortunately, Dan demonstrates all the necessary moves, so you can follow along and practice your technique before starting the main routine.

Watch Tiff x Dan's upper body workout

Push-ups are one of the best-known resistance training exercises, but the variations in this routine are an effective way to build muscle without equipment. If you're new to strength training, you can make some alterations.

For instance, you can start on your knees while you work on your form before progressing to the plank position push-up. Or, you could experiment with wall push-ups first while you get used to the posture.

Although primarily an upper body move, holding a push-up position works your core, too. Your core is responsible for balance, stability, and workout performance, so developing muscle in this area is worthwhile.

This is why moves like push-ups, planks, and mountain climbers are some of the best abs workouts. As this is only a short routine, you can combine the upper body workout with ab-focused exercises for a more extended session.

If you enjoy working with weights, you could consider picking up one of the best kettlebells and learning how to do kettlebell swings. This multi-muscle move trains your whole body, strengthening your core and boosting your metabolism.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.