Making time for a solid arm workout isn’t always easy, especially if you’re in need of weights and other equipment.
But when you’re on the road or have a few minutes to spare between events, it can be nice to have some quick, virtually equipment-free arm workouts up your sleeve.
We asked New York University physical-therapy professor Marilyn Moffat, who also wrote the book “Age Defying Fitness,” for some of her favourite arm workouts that don’t require weights.
Here are the nine she gave us, including modifications to help personalise your workout. Feel free to mix and match, or just do one exercise on its own. Repeat or hold each exercise until it gets to be too much, building up at your own pace.
And remember: If you have any unusual pain or problems with the exercises, stop doing them and consult a physical therapist.
Exercise #1: The dreaded plank. Keeping your arms directly under your shoulders, hold this pose for at least 30 seconds, until it gets to be too much.
To better distribute your weight, spread your fingers as wide as possible while in these poses. You should be able to feel the difference along your arms.
For a modification, try putting your forearms on the ground. You’ll still feel the stretch along your arms (not to mention torso and legs).
But if you want to take your plank to the next level, try holding one leg up in the air, then switching it with the other foot halfway through for however long you plan on holding the plank.
Exercise #2: Side planks. In addition to feeling this along your obliques, both arms should feel activated when holding the pose.
As a modification, rest your lower forearm on the ground and place your top foot out in front of the bottom one. To keep feeling the pose, keep that top arm extended up.
For exercise #3, find a chair and a wall. Chair push-ups are a great way for anyone to work their arms without the strain of a standard push-up. For all of these, start with two repetitions to see how you feel, and then try to get up to 8 to 12 repetitions before you get too tired.
If that’s too easy, try going through the push-ups with your legs extended in front of you.
For a different challenge, try the chair push-up with just one arm, knees bent.
Exercise #4: Reverse chair push-ups. On your knees, bend toward the chair, keeping your elbows close to your sides. Again, start with two repetitions to see how you feel, and then try to get up to 8 to 12 repetitions before you get too tired.
For exercise #5, flip around so that your toes are on the chair, and bend down through a push-up.
Exercise #6: Arm circles. If you’re mixing and matching arm exercises, consider making sure this is one of the core exercises. Make little circles with your arms, first going clockwise then reversing once you start to feel your arms getting tired.
Exercise #7: Burpees. Unlike the classic burpee that involves a vertical jump, you can remain horizontal for this one. Do this until you start to feel fatigued.
For an extra modification, step up from plank pose in between the hands and back, no jumping required.
Exercise #8: Reverse plank. By this point, your back is likely in need of some reverse strengthening poses, so lift up into a forearm plank with your body facing toward the sky.
Exercise #9: Downward facing dog. If all else fails, this yoga pose will work all the arm muscles you might need strengthened. Because we work our biceps in most everyday activities, Moffat said that there’s not much need to work them individually, but if you want, weights are a great way to work them.
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