This 6-Minute, No-Equipment at-Home Upper Body Workout Will Light Your Arms, Abs, and Shoulders on Fire

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Each month, a new trainer takes us through four of the best workouts they have in their back pocket. Follow along weekly for new ways to sweat it out with us. See All

Welcome to Trainer of the Month Club, our brand-new fitness series, where we tap the coolest most in-the-know fitness leaders to create a month-long fitness challenge. On Mondays, we have our “sweat drops” where you’ll get access to the week’s workout that you can follow along at home. In June, Meg Takacs is bringing your her strength-building series, starting with building a strong coreHere, she shares an at-home upper body workout.

When someone says "upper body workout," the first things that come to mind are moves like bicep curls and tricep kickbacks—aka things that require weights. But as trainer Meg Takacs proves with her at-home upper body workout, you can work your chest, arms, and shoulders with nothing more than your body weight.

With moves like planks, push-ups, and glute bridges, you'll be able to light up your upper body while also giving some love to your core and butt—so basically, it's a full-body workout masking as an upper body one. And the best part? You can do it in your living room in six minutes flat... all you need is a mat, a timer, and an A++ playlist.

Check out the series below, and be sure to check back next week for Takac's final workout as our June Trainer of the Month!

Do each movement for 30 seconds each, and cycle through the series twice.

1. Pause push-up

Muscles targeted: pectorals, deltoids, triceps, abs

Start in a high plank, lower down into a push-up, pause at the bottom for three seconds and push back up. Be sure to keep the muscle control at the bottom and come up to full extension at the top. For an easier variation, put your knees on the ground.

2. Shoulder taps

Muscles targeted: deltoids, triceps, abs, lower back

Hold a high plank with your shoulders stacked over your hands and tap each shoulder one at a time with your opposite hand. Imagine there’s a glass of water balancing on your back, and hold it as flat as possible without dipping your hips to either side. For an easier variation, drop to your knees.

3. Glute bridge with knee taps

Muscles targeted: gluteus maximus, thighs, hips, abs, hamstrings

Hold yourself up in a bridge with your feet flat on the ground and your hips lifted, and tap each knee with your opposite hand. Use your other hand to stabilize you, and tighten your core to stay balanced.

4. Plank up-down variation

Muscles targeted: deltoids, triceps, abs, glutes

Starting in a high plank, start with your right arm and move down to your elbows, squeezing your glutes and core. Then push back up to your hands one at a time, and repeat. For an easier variation, place your knees on the ground.

5. Plank pike

Muscles targeted: triceps, shoulders, chest, abs, quads

Hold a high plank, and push your hips up and back toward the ceiling into a pike position. While in your pike, touch one hand to your opposite foot, then return back to parallel. Repeat on the other side.

6. Isolated downward dog into crunch

Muscles targeted: chest, shoulders, triceps, hamstrings, abs, hips

In a three-legged dog position, raise your right leg back and up toward the sky (you’ll do the left side during round two—so for this round, just work with the right).  Pull it in toward your chest while moving your body into a high plank, crunching your abs. Keep your knee off the ground, and return to start. For an easier variation, hold your body in a three-legged plank instead of a down dog, and crunch your knee to your chest in the same way.

Originally published June 17, 2019. Updated April 3, 2020.

If you liked this at-home upper body workout, try Meg Takac's 6-minute HIIT and 6-minute core workouts—no equipment required. 

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