Strengthen Your Shoulders, Arms, and Abs With This 20-Minute, Equipment-Free Workout
You don't need to work out for hours with lots of equipment to get stronger. In fact, you can get in a quality strength workout in under 30 minutes without any equipment. Don't believe us? Try this 20-minute workout by Kelsey Wells, an NASM-certified trainer and creator of the PWR programs on the SWEAT app.
This upper-body workout was inspired by her 10-week PWR Zero Equipment program and "can help strengthen your shoulders, arms, and core with a combination of stabilization exercises and dynamic upper-body movements," Wells told POPSUGAR. You won't use any weights, but your arms are going to be shaking once it's over! Grab some water, because it's time to get to work.
Kelsey Wells's 20-Minute PWR Zero-Equipment Upper-Body Workout
Equipment needed: a yoga mat.
Directions: Before getting started, Wells recommends doing three to five minutes of cardio, such as jogging in place or skipping, to increase your heart rate and warm up your muscles for your workout. After the cardio warmup, Wells recommends performing dynamic stretches such as leg swings, arm circles, and torso twists. These movements will help increase your range of motion and reduce your risk of injury.
This workout is broken up into three parts: a superset, a circuit, and an optional burnout. You'll complete three rounds of the superset, taking little to no rest in between each exercise. After the superset, you'll advance to the circuit. Each exercise should be completed for 50 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Take 30 seconds of rest after each round, completing a total of four rounds. Take one minute of rest after the circuit, and either cool down or complete the optional burnout.
Be sure to cool down after the workout with three to five minutes of walking to lower your heart rate to normal levels. Wells also recommends completing static stretches, holding for 20 seconds or longer to increase your flexibility, provide relief from potential cramping, and reduce soreness and your risk of injury, she said.
- Circuit 1, exercise 1: bear crawl: 20 reps
- Circuit 1, exercise 2: triceps push-up: 10 reps
Complete three rounds, then take one minute of rest before advancing to the circuit.
- Inchworm: 50 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- Commando: 50 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- Half burpee: 50 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest
Take 30 seconds after each round of the circuit and one minute of rest after completing four rounds of the circuit.
- Side plank (optional burnout): 60 seconds (30 seconds per side)
Superset 1, Exercise 1: Bear Crawl
- Starting on all fours on a yoga mat, ensure that your knees are below your hips and your hands are below your shoulders. Set your spine in a neutral position, and draw your shoulder blades down and back. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.
- Take a small step forward with your left foot and your right hand at the same time, ensuring that you keep your abdominals engaged to help minimize torso movement and so your torso remains parallel to the ground.
- Take a small step forward with your right foot and your left hand at the same time, once again ensuring that you keep your abdominals engaged to help minimize torso movement and so your torso remains parallel to the ground.
- Continue alternating between left and right, inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps. Complete half of your repetitions moving forward and the other half moving backward.
- Complete 20 reps.
Superset 1, Exercise 2: Triceps Push-Up
- Place both hands on the mat shoulder-width apart with your legs extended behind you and your feet together. You should be resting on the balls of your feet. Gently draw your ribs to your hips to engage your core. This is your starting position.
- Maintain a neutral spine, and on an inhale, bend your elbows and lower your torso toward the mat, ensuring that your elbows remain in close contact with the sides of your body.
- Exhale, and extend your arms, straightening your elbows, and lift your body back to the starting position.
- Complete 10 reps.
- Repeat this superset for a total of three rounds.
- Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. Bend at your hips, and while keeping your legs as straight as possible, place your hands on the floor directly in front of your feet. This is your starting position.
- Inhale, and without moving your feet, walk your hands forward until your body is in one straight line from your head to your heels, resting on the balls of your feet, ensuring that your legs remain as straight as possible.
- Exhale, and without moving your feet, walk your hands back to return to the starting position, once again ensuring that your legs remain as straight as possible.
- Repeat for 50 seconds, then take 10 seconds of rest.
- Start by placing your forearms on a yoga mat and extending both of your legs behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.
- On an exhale, lift up your right forearm, placing your hand firmly on the mat directly below your right shoulder, and push up onto your right hand. Lift up your left forearm to place your hand firmly on the mat directly below your left shoulder, and push up onto your left hand. Ensure that you keep your core engaged to prevent your hips from swaying.
- Inhale, and lower your right forearm to the mat, then lower your left forearm to the mat, returning to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise starting with your left arm.
- Continue alternating between left and right for 50 seconds, then take 10 seconds of rest.
- Begin by placing both hands on the mat slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Your legs should be extended out behind you with your feet together, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.
- On an exhale, jump both of your feet forward, aiming for the outside of your hands, ensuring your feet remain shoulder-width apart. It's OK if your feet don't land directly by your hands; go as far as your body allows.
- On an inhale, jump both of your feet backward, returning to the starting position.
- This counts as one rep.
- Repeat for 50 seconds, then take 10 seconds of rest.
Burnout: Side Plank
- Start on the ground with both hands on the floor about shoulder-width distance apart and with both legs extended behind you as you rest on the balls of your feet. Gently draw your ribs in to engage your core and maintain a neutral spine, ensuring that your hands are directly below your shoulders. This is your starting position.
- On an exhale, lift your right hand up off the ground and extend it upward as you simultaneously rotate your torso, opening up to the right. You should be facing the long edge of your mat. Be sure to engage your obliques (these are the ab muscles on your sides) to keep your hips elevated.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds on each side.