5 Easy Bodyweight Exercises For Strong, Toned Arms

Written by Jenna Arndt

Photo by Swerve

SWERVE is one of our favorite cycling studios in NYC. Every class is divided into teams—helping to motivate and push you harder than ever before. It’s a full-body workout that includes one song dedicated to arm exercises. Below, SWERVE instructor Jenna Arndt shares a few of her favorite arm exercises off the bike.

At SWERVE, we love to ride hard, but we also give you 5 minutes of upper-body work as a break for your legs before crossing the finish line a little stronger. Though the weight is light, efficient repetitions start to add up, 2- to 5-pound dumbbells start to feel more like barbells, and you'll begin to notice results from your arm series "break" in the ride.

When you can't make it to the studio or gym, or you want to get a little bonus arm work in, you can try out this quick and effective bodyweight arm series.

Perform each movement for 1 minute, and repeat for 3 rounds. Every time you do this workout, you can aim for higher repetitions per minute.

1. Hand-Release Push-Ups

Photo by Swerve

Start with your hands and toes on the floor. Keep your back flat, and keep your hips in line with your toes and shoulders the entire time. Lower your chest completely down to the ground, and lift your hands off the ground while keeping your chest and hips on the floor for about 1 second. Bring your hands back to the floor and press up, extending and locking your arms fully out. Repeat.

Bonus: These push-ups force you to engage your abdominals as you lift and lower each time.

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2. Tricep Dips

Photo by Swerve

Find a chair, bench, or other sturdy flat surface that's about knee-height. Sit on the surface with your legs extended straight in front of you and place the palms of your hands on the bench behind you, finger tips facing forward toward your heels. Once you're set there, slide your butt forward so that you're balancing on your hands and heels. Begin with a slight bend in your elbows. Then bend them more and more as you slowly lower your upper body and butt toward the floor until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Once you've hit the bottom of the dip, press your palms into the chair and push yourself back up to start (straight with just a slight bend).

Bonus: If you're ready to take this to the next level, try a one-arm dip. Now move your legs wider for more stability, and perform the same 90-degree bend and push back to start.

3. Walking Plank

Photo by Swerve

This core-strengthening move will also help shape your shoulders and delts. Find a plank position, keeping your body straight with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your palms flat on the floor. Start with your feet together. Then, simultaneously cross your right hand over your left and step your left leg out to the left—so as your arms cross, your legs come wide. Then step your left arm out to the left to uncross your hands, as you simultaneously bring your right foot next to your left—so your arms come back to the plank position and your legs narrow back together. Alternate walking two to the right, two to the left.

Bonus: Add a push-up in for every two "steps" you take with your hands.

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4. Diamond Push-Up

Photo by Swerve

Place your hands under your chest and create a triangle with your fingers, touching your thumbs and index fingers together. Keep your elbows tight at your sides and lower down, touching your chest to your diamond or getting as close to it as you can. Keep the rest of your body tight, and push back to start.

Bonus: Find a wall and elevate your feet against it. Perform these same push-ups.

5. Arm Circles

Photo by Swerve

Here the focus doesn't need to be on repetitions. Keep your movements small, slow, and controlled. Extend your arms straight out to parallel, and perform slow, circular motions upward until you have eventually positioned them above your head. Reverse the circle, and return your arms to a parallel position. Repeat.

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