Build Muscle With This Upper-Body Workout That Doesn't Contain a Single Push-Up
There's always one exercise, (or three or four) that no matter how strong we get, is always challenging. Then there are the exercises we just can't stand. If push-ups are your kryptonite, but you still want strong arms, I created this upper-body circuit for you. You'll work your biceps, triceps, chest, and back without ever doing a single push-up.
And, before you get on me about a push-up free workout, let the record show that I have nothing against push-ups, and I think they're a great exercise. This workout was designed for those who are beginners and cannot do push-ups just yet, those who have wrist injuries, and those who want to expand their upper-body exercise repertoire. Now that we've cleared that up, it's time to get started.
Before jumping into the circuit, warm up with exercises like jumping jacks and plank walkouts. As a refresher, a circuit means that you'll complete the designated reps of each of the exercises listed, and take little to no rest as you transition to the next exercise. Once you've done all the exercises to complete the circuit, take 90 seconds to two minutes of rest before starting your next round. Repeat this circuit for a total of four rounds.
- Crab walks: 10 reps
- Dumbbell bench press: 12 reps
- Bent-over row: 12 reps
- Banded assisted pull-ups: five reps for beginners, 10 reps (can be done without the band) for those who are more advanced
- Bicep curl and overhead press: 12 reps
Don't forget to adequately cool down afterward.
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent, your hands two inches behind you, and your fingers pointing away from your body. If this is too much weight on your wrists, slightly turn your fingers out to the sides of your body. Lift your hips two to three inches off the ground.
- Step your right foot forward as you simultaneously move your left hand forward. Then repeat on the opposite side. This completes one rep. Focus on perfecting the contralateral movement (moving opposite body parts at the same time).
Dumbbell Bench Press
- Grab a set of dumbbells and sit on a flat workout bench.
- With one dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs, lie back onto the bench.
- Hold the dumbbells above your chest, shoulder-width apart, creating a 90-degree angle between your upper arm and forearm. Palms should be facing forward.
- Exhale as you push the dumbbells up, fully extending your arms. Hold for one second.
- Inhale and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest with control.
- This counts as one rep.
- Lean forward and bend both knees, remembering to keep a flat back.
- Extend your arms so they are straight. Lift the dumbbells straight up to chest level, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do. Be sure to keep your elbows in and pointed upward. Don't arch your back.
- Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position to complete one rep.
Banded Assisted Pull-Up
Reps: five to 10
- Place a large resistance band securely around a pull-up bar. A band with more resistance will provide you with more assistance/momentum to pull yourself up.
- Stand on a stable object (a bench will work), and grip the pull-up bar. With one hand, place the band around the arch of your shoe. Fully extend the banded leg.
- With a neutral spine and your abs engaged, pull yourself up. The band will provide you with momentum to lift your body up. Lower back down to the starting position.
- This counts as one rep.
Bicep Curl and Overhead Press
- Stand with your feet directly under your hips, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing out. Bend your elbows, bringing the weights to your shoulders, performing a bicep curl.
- Stabilize your torso and keep your arms moving upward, straightening the arms above you, performing an overhead press with your palms facing out.
- Bend your elbows coming back to the end of your bicep curl, then straighten your arms coming back to the starting position to complete one rep.