This time of year is jam-packed – 6 best arm workouts you can do from home, no weights needed

No equipment? No problem.

Arm workouts without weights: Two women stretching their arms after a workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s a reason people don’t tend to set new fitness goals at this time of year. Between the endless social engagements, school nativities and work commitments, it’s hard to find time to show up for regular gym sessions. But, you don’t need to take your training to the gym to build strength, and you don’t even need to own any equipment. If your goal is to build upper body muscle or even just maintain your fitness amongst the Christmas chaos, you can do effective arm workouts without weights from home. 

There are many benefits to be had by doing bodyweight exercise. As well as building strength, this 2021 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that simple and straightforward bodyweight training – without any specialised equipment – can improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. 

Of course, there’s no shame in putting your programme on pause until the new year, if that’s what’s best for your wellbeing and current circumstances. But, if you do want to try some of the best arm workouts for women to help you maintain your fitness levels and carve out some time for yourself during this busy time of year, keep scrolling. We've picked the brains of personal trainer and owner of Nordic Balance, Joanna Meyer. Below, she shares her go-to arm workouts without weights. Don't miss our guides to the best home arm workouts, best home arm workouts for beginners, and best arm workouts for women with weights, if you do have kettlebells or dumbbells to hand.

A PT shares: your guide to doing arm workouts without weights

Can you build arm muscle without weights?

“Building arm muscle without weights is not only possible but also quite effective when done correctly,” Meyer says. How so? Well, because “the mechanics of muscle building involve creating resistance that your muscles must work against.” This resistance, she says, can come from various sources, not just weights.

Performing exercises without weights, such as push-ups or tricep dips, uses your body weight as resistance, as opposed to dumbbells or kettlebells, for instance. “Muscle growth (hypertrophy) occurs when you challenge your muscles to deal with more resistance than they're accustomed to,” Meyer explains. 

This can be achieved without adding load in the form of weights, she says, by “increasing the number of repetitions, enhancing the intensity, or modifying the exercise to make it more challenging." The key is consistent and progressive overload, where you gradually increase the challenge to your muscles.

What is a home arm workout?

Keen to try arm workouts without weights at home? Below, Meyer shares her top tips for making sure they’re impactful and challenging for your muscles, despite not using the lack of equipment. 

1. Include a variety of exercises

First up: you want to make sure you work all the muscles in your arms. Meyer advises being mindful about exercise selection, including a mix of those which target the biceps, triceps, and shoulders. “Examples include push-ups, tricep dips, arm circles, and planks,” she says.

2. Consider the duration and frequency

“Aim for a 20 to 30-minute workout, three to four times a week,” Meyer says. 

This is plenty of time to challenge the muscles in the arm, and also allows for adequate muscle recovery between sessions.

3. Be intentional with intensity and progression

“Start with what you can manage, and gradually increase the intensity,” Meyer advises. This could mean adding more repetitions, doing longer holds, or introducing more challenging variations.

4. Introduce equipment, if you want

While equipment isn’t necessary, Meyer says, introducing a few pieces of kit can help to add variety and keep your at-home arm workouts without weights interesting. 

She recommends experimenting with resistance bands and mini-bands – and you can also consider things like sliders, ankle weights, or wrist weights. (Read all about the benefits of ankle weights, here).

5. Listen to your body

Last but by no means least, make sure you're in tune with your body and respecting its cues. “The workout should feel challenging but not overwhelming,” Meyer says. 

She emphasises the importance of listening to your body and not overdoing it, prioritising rest and recovery alongside other general healthy behaviours, such as getting quality sleep and managing stress.

Benefits of home arm workouts without weights

Doing at-home arm workouts without weights can help you build strength and muscle mass, but the benefits don’t end there. “Many bodyweight exercises also involve a stretching component, improving flexibility and range of motion,” says Meyer. 

“They also often have a lower risk of injury compared to lifting heavier weights.” This means that bodyweight workouts can be especially helpful for those new to weight training, as they’re able to practise the movement patterns and develop good quality form before adding weight, and also for those rehabbing injuries. 

Another benefit is the sheer convenience – bodyweight workouts can be done in a fitness facility or at home, and require no equipment or financial investment. Plus, they don’t call for a hefty time commitment, either. “You can perform these exercises anywhere, making it easier to maintain a regular exercise routine,” Meyer says.

6 arm workouts without weights to do at home, chosen by a PT

1. Beginner-friendly upper body and arms workout

What? A beginner-friendly, no-equipment workout.

Why? “This workout is excellent for beginners, using light dumbbells or water bottles as optional equipment, focusing on low-impact, beginner-friendly exercises,” says Meyer.

How long? 10 minutes.

3. Yoga workout for arm strength

What? A speedy, yoga inspired arm workout.

Why? "Incorporating yoga-inspired moves, this workout is perfect for enhancing flexibility while building arm strength," says Meyer.

How long? 10 minutes.

4. No-equipment-needed intense arm workout

What? A quick and high-energy arm strength workout.

Why? "This 10-minute workout is designed to intensely strengthen your arms with no equipment or weights," says Meyer. It's suitable for doing at home or anywhere else.

How long? 10 minutes.

4. Arms and abs workout

What? A no-equipment upper-body session.

Why? "It's a well-rounded 10-minute workout that targets both arms and core, perfect for a comprehensive upper body session," Meyer says.

How long? 10 minutes.

5. Quick and intense arm workout

What? An intermediate level, no-equipment workout

Why? "Ideal for intermediate levels, this 15-minute workout is both quick and intense, requiring no equipment and designed to tone and strengthen the upper body," says Meyer.

How long? 15 minutes.

6. At-home tricep workout

What? A 20-minute, at-home arm workout.

Why? "Focusing on the triceps, this 20-minute workout is ideal for strengthening the back of the arms without any equipment," Meyer says.

How long? 20 minutes.

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Are arm workouts without weights effective?

Definitely - if performed correctly. According to personal trainer and owner of Nordic Balance, Joanna Meyer, bodyweight workouts can be just as effective at building muscle as hours in the gym lifting weights.

It's all about creating resistance in your muscles in whatever way works best for you. Keen to give it a go? She suggests trying push-ups or tricep dips that use your body weight as resistance. Similarly, do make sure to focus on progressive overload, if you're looking to improve your fitness - that is, challenging your muscles more each session to continue to build your strength.

Not sure what that looks like? In short, it means upping your number of reps, increasing the intensity of the workout, or making the workout more challenging in some way. Got it?

Abbi Henderson
Health Writer

Abbi Henderson is a freelance journalist and social media editor who covers health, fitness, women’s sport and lifestyle for titles including Women's Health and Stylist, among others. 

With a desire to help make healthcare, exercise and sport more accessible to women, she writes about everything from the realities of seeking medical support as a woman to those of being a female athlete fighting for equality. 

When she’s not working, she’s drinking tea, going on seaside walks, lifting weights, watching football, and probably cooking something pasta-based.