This Quickie Workout Will Tone Your Upper Body In All The Right Places

best upper body workout


We don’t know about you, but nothing gives us a confidence boost like revealing strong arms in a tank top. Dare we say they’re even better than truly flat abs? Oh, we do.

Regardless, there’s no need to wait for a certain season to start adding some seriously strengthening and toning moves to your upper body fitness routine. So here are five bodyweight-based exercises you can conquer in five minutes that will sculpt your chest, arms, shoulders and back in all the right places. Pro tip: You might want to put on one or two of your favorite pump-up songs for this one. These next five minutes are about to get intense.

3-2-1… Pushup!

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There’s no cheating in this pushup variation — it’s all about form, control and muscular endurance. Start in a high plank position with your core engaged and your wrists, elbows and shoulders all stacked on top of one another. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your torso toward the floor at a slow 3-2-1 count, but don’t let your body actually touch the floor. Then, push straight back up to the top of your plank. Now repeat for a full minute. If the full pushup form is too intense, you can lower your knees to the ground and proceed from there. No judgment here!

Triceps Dips With A Pulse

Move into an inverted tabletop position on your mat with your feet flat and your fingers reaching toward your heels. Keeping your hips lifted, bend both elbows to lower in the triceps dip, keeping them parallel with your body rather than splaying out to the sides. Lift up and return to the starting position. Repeat for 45 seconds. Then, for the last 15 seconds, sink into your triceps dip and pulse at the bottom of the movement by slightly lifting and then lowering your body. The bend in your elbows should only change by a few degrees during the pulses. Feel that burn!


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Move back into that high plank position to begin, keeping your core engaged and your wrists, elbows and shoulders all stacked on top of one another. When you’re ready, lift your right hand and place your right forearm on the floor, and then lift your left hand and place your left forearm on the floor, being mindful that your hips stay parallel to the floor throughout the movement. Once you’re in your forearm plank, it’s time to go back up! So lift your right forearm and place your right hand on the floor, and then lift your left forearm and place your left hand on the floor to complete the move. Repeat for 30 seconds, and then switch up which arm you move first to even things out, and go for another 30 seconds.

Shifting Supermans

Lie down on your stomach with your arms and legs stretched out long, creating one long line with your body. Engaging your shoulders, lower back and glutes, lift both arms and legs off the floor a few inches into a flying Superman position. Lower slightly (but not all the way down the floor), move your arms into a field goal position and extend upward again. Lower slightly one more time, move your arms back so that the palms of your hands are facing the sides of your thighs and extend upward again. Repeat this arm sequence, pulsing with the upper and lower body lifts, for 60 seconds. Then give yourself a much-deserved breather in child’s pose.

Plank To Dolphin

Last but not least, start in your forearm plank position with your core engaged and your elbows and shoulders all stacked on top of one another. Place your hands flat on the mat as opposed to making fists or clasping them together. When you’re ready, use your shoulder, back and core strength to pike your hips up toward the ceiling, dropping your head between your biceps in dolphin pose. Then, with control, slowly shift your weight forward again into the original forearm plank position. Continue alternating for 60 seconds.

Have more time to spare? Make a real circuit out of these exercises and complete them all three times before calling it a day. Your upper body will be aching, but that just means it’s working!