You don't need weights to build muscle and strengthen your bones, just these five equipment-free moves

This bodyweight workout will strengthen your core and upper body with no equipment

woman doing the plank during a home workout
(Image credit: Getty Images/DRAKULA IMAGES)

You don't need lots of fancy equipment or access to a gym to get your body moving. With just a few exercises, you can work your upper-body and develop functional strength without weights. 

This accessible workout uses five bodyweight moves to target your core, arms, chest, and back, so you don't need any extra gear to give it a go. However, if you have one, a yoga mat will give you some extra comfort during the workout.

The routine was developed by Nicki Phillips, founder of online coaching platform Niix Fit. She notes that you can build muscle without weights, as you'll use your body weight to add resistance to your muscles. 

The most important thing is to get the form right for each exercise to get the most from your training and to avoid injury in the long run. Fortunately, you can use Phillips' demonstrations to practice your technique before you start. 

How to do Niix Fit's bodyweight workout

To turn these five moves into a full workout, Phillips recommends doing between 10 and 15 reps of each for three sets (or four, if you fancy an extra challenge). She doesn't specify rest periods, so choose an amount of time that suits you. 

  • Shoulder taps
  • Arm reach
  • Plank roll
  • Bear rotate
  • Shoulder push-up

Or, you could try performing the exercises ones after the other as a circuit, with minimal rest in between. Take a 60-second break after you've finished all five, then repeat this sequence until you reach three or four rounds.

What are the benefits?

Aside from developing visible muscle, there are plenty of benefits to strengthening your upper-body. Maintaining muscle throughout your life contributes to your overall health, fitness, and ability to do daily tasks like lifting heavy shopping bags or stretching to reach the top shelf.

Plus, your core muscle is involved in almost every full-body movement you do, including walking and maintaining posture while sitting. It's also responsible for promoting blood flow, improving your stability, and boosting your balance. 

You can take on dedicated core strengthening exercises, or mix them in with your favorite arm workouts for a balanced upper-body routine. As your core also connects your upper and lower-body, it's vital that you make time for a leg workout too. 

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors,, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.