Forget weights — just use these 5 bodyweight moves to sculpt your upper body

a man doing a diamond push up
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lifting weight is not the only answer to building upper body strength. Using your body weight as a form of resistance is a great alternative to weight training. You just need to find the right exercises to effectively challenge your upper body muscles and look to implement progressive overload into your training to keep up your strength gains.

To help you get started, here's a five move routine from fitness trainer, Joey Bronston. Since it's a fuss free no equipment workout, the main thing you'll need to consider before jumping into the upper body exercises is space and comfort. 

You'll need enough space to stretch your body out lengthways on the floor and you'll want to place something padded underneath you, such as one of the best yoga mats, especially if you will be working out on a particularly hard surface. 

Ready to see a breakdown of the routine? Keep reading to find out.

What is the 5-move no equipment workout?

This is an fairly straightforward workout to follow. You will complete 10 reps of all fve exercises and repeat the full circuit three times over. Bronston doesn't mention any rest periods but don't let this stop you from adding in your own break periods. 

Watch the video below for demonstrations of each exercise.

If you don't have the spare cash to fork out on a gym membership or, you don't enjoy training with weights, then you'll lap up the simplicity and convenience that a bodyweight workout can bring.

Having the ability to perform a bodyweight workout anywhere also lessens the chance of talking yourself out of exercise, seeing as you can't use the excuse of not having the right equipment or access to a gym to get moving.

Additionally, bodyweight exercises tend to be more joint-friendly compared to heavy weightlifting, making them safer for those with joint issues or those recovering from injury.

While some may question whether bodyweight exercises can effectively build upper body muscle, the answer is yes, they can. As long as you are working to gradually and continually increase the intensity or volume of exercises in your bodyweight training, you can stimulate muscle growth and strength gains in your bodyweight training. This is what we call progressive overload.

For those ready to transition into weight training, don't feel the pressure to throw yourself into the deep end of weight training. Gradually introduce an added force of resistance to your strength training with some of the best resistance bands and then if you feel comfortable, take things up a notch with some dumbbells. 

Be sure to speak to a fitness trainer for guidance on form and technique to help avoid injury and remember that exercise should be fun. So, if you aren't enjoying one form of exercise, experiment with other forms until you find something you feel good doing.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.


Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.


She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.