Forget dumbbell-based workouts at the gym — if you want strong, toned arms, all you really need is your own body and a little motivation.
These seven exercises will get your arms and upper body super strong, no equipment needed:
1. Reptile push-ups
Reptile push-ups not only look cool, they’re also great for working your arms as well as your core.
To do them, start in a push-up position, with your shoulders directly over your hands, then tighten your abs, glutes and thighs. While lowering your chest to the floor, bring one knee toward your elbow on the same side of the body. Push yourself back up and repeat on the opposite side.
Watch how to do reptile push ups here.
2. Pike push-ups
Pike push-ups will work your arms as well as your back, making them a great way to build strength for handstands.
To do them, start in a downward dog position, then walk yourself forward so that your shoulders are closer to your hands. Lower your head down as far as you can, then push back up.
Watch the video here.
3. Diamond push-ups
Diamond push-ups put a special emphasis on your triceps, making them much harder for most people than regular push ups.
To do them, start in a push-up position with your hands formed in a diamond, with your elbows close to or touching your side, then tighten your abs, glutes and thighs. Lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor while keeping your elbows as far in as possible. Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.
Watch how to do diamond push ups here.
4. Dive bomber push-ups
Dive bomber push-ups are an extra fun version of a push-up that will really cause your arms to burn, making them one of my all-time favorite push-ups.
To do them, start in a downward dog position, then bend your elbows and drop your chest to the floor as you push forward. Pause when you have pushed your body forward and up, then bend your elbows and drop your chest back down to the floor. Push back up to the starting position and repeat.
Watch the video here.
5. Pike jumps
Pike jumps are a fun exercise that mimics the feeling of being upside down in a handstand and really works your arms and shoulders.
To do them, start in a downward dog position, then jump your feet up as far as possible while pushing through your shoulders and land on one side. Jump to other side and repeat.
See how to do pike jumps here.
6. Plank jumps
Plank jumps work both your abs and your arms and shoulders, and are much more dynamic than holding a traditional plank.
To do them, start in a plank position with your shoulders directly over your elbows, then jump your feet as far as you can toward your hands. Jump back to the starting position and repeat.
See how to do plank jumps here.
Although burpees are thought of mostly as a conditioning exercise, do enough of them and your arms will start to ache.
To do one, get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you, then kick your feet back and quickly lower your chest to the floor. Bow up and return your feet to the squat position as fast as possible. Then immediately jump into the air as high as you can.
Watch how to do burpees here.
If you want even more of an arm workout while doing burpees, you can do a burpee with a push up at the bottom — or try doing the 100 burpee challenge to really push your limits.
If these exercises look intimidating to you, just remember, every one of the push-up variations can also be done on your knees or in an elevated position to make them easier. Focus on your form, be consistent, and you will build up strength quickly.
And add your arm exercises to your HIIT workouts for an incredibly effective full body workout. Just don't forget to work as hard as you can!
Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT is the author of The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Bodyweight and a leading expert on high intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight fitness. She currently lives in Venice, California, and is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
From trying her first push up in college, to teaching herself to do pull ups and handstands, Krista is living proof of her philosophy that everybody is an athlete. She has helped tens of thousands of people to unlock their full athletic potential through her 12 Minute Athlete HIIT Workouts app and 12 Minute Athlete blog. You can find her @12minuteathlete on all social platforms.