This quick, body-weight only arm workout (with some core work, to boot!) is easy to sneak in after dinner and simple enough to do anywhere. The plan: Give yourself at least an hour to digest, and then do 12–15 repetitions of each exercise (aim for tired, not aching, muscles). Start with one set of each, and work toward three sets, 3 or 4 days a week. Enjoy the results!
“Working your upper body during prime time might help you curb pre-bedtime couch slouching—and the munchies,” says certified personal trainer Chris Freytag.
Tone chest and arms with this strength staple. Begin with hands directly under shoulders, keeping straight from heels to crown of head. With core engaged, move from straight-arm position, bending elbows, to lower body to floor and raise back up to straight-arm position.
Modify: Drop to knees, and then realign body to form a straight line. Still too hard? Stand up and position hands on a chair or against the wall.
Work shoulders and arms by moving from hand plank (hands beneath shoulders) to forearm plank (elbows beneath shoulders), alternating lead hand (or elbow) with each rep. Keep core tight, and avoid rocking hips.
Modify: Dial it back a bit by dropping to knees; amp up the burn by moving higher on toes.
Start from seated position on floor, and then lift up with both hands and feet. Move hand with opposite foot, alternating as you go. Consider each step one repetition.
Modify: If crawling is too hard, raise body up off ground for a count of 5 or 10 seconds.
This twist on the push-up moves the workload from chest to triceps. Place hands directly under chest, forming a triangle with thumbs and second fingers. Lower and raise body as one unit, keeping core tight.
Modify: This move is tricky. You might be tempted to bend at waist to make it easier. Don’t. Instead, drop to knees and keep hips open.
Stand tall; exhale into forward fold, hands on floor. Walk hands out until you are in plank position, then walk feet forward to meet hands. That’s one rep. You’ll feel this in the shoulders and arms, with a little core work thrown in.
Modify: If necessary, bend knees. Not enough help? Stand in front of a chair, bend forward and place hands on the front edge of seat. Walk hands from front to rear of seat and back again.
Sit on edge of chair with hands beside you. Slowly lower body off chair, going down as far as possible, and then raise back up, using arms to lift you. “Remember to relax your neck and shoulders and focus on using your arms only,” adds Freytag.
Modify: Walk feet closer to chair to make exercise easier; extend feet farther out or lift one leg to make it harder.
Fear not: Modify Your Workout!
It’s better to try an easier option than to compromise a full range of motion. The focus of your workout should be to move as far as possible in each direction during weighted activities—doing so could increase your muscle strength and size more than if you performed a shorter range of motion, according to a 2014 preliminary study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.