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by UNC Campus Recreation

6 Upper-Body Exercises That Require No Equipment!

Being away from UNC this summer, there are things that I miss about being on campus and others that I don’t. While I certainly don’t miss late night exam-cram sessions or 8 a.m. lectures, I definitely do miss some other aspects of being a Carolina student, like hearing the chime of the bell tower and people watching in The Pit. One of the things I miss the most, however, is having access to the plethora of exercise equipment at the Student Rec and Rams Head Rec Centers. While quite a few of the exercises in my exercise routine don’t actually involve any equipment, almost all of the upper body exercises I like to do require dumbbells. Unfortunately, I don’t have any dumbbells at my disposal this summer. However, I definitely don’t want to neglect my upper body, so I have scoured the Internet to find some upper body exercises that don’t require any equipment! After testing out several exercises, I have narrowed it down to my 6 favorites!

Photo credit: "Your Mildura" of Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit: “Your Mildura” of Flickr Creative Commons

Tricep dips

This move will make the back of your arms burn! Place your hands flat on the floor, a chair, or a bench with your fingers pointing towards you. Also place your feet flat on the floor. Bend your arms at your elbows and drop your lower body simultaneously. Then straighten your arms and raise your lower body to complete 1 repetition.

Push up + twist

This is quite literally a “twist” on a traditional push-up! Complete 1 regular push-up and at the top of the push-up in “plank” position, twist to the right, raising your right arm with fingers pointing towards the ceiling, keeping your hips as stationary as possible. Make sure to repeat the move using your left arm for the next rep!

Diamond pushups

To reap the benefits of this version of a push-up, get in push-up position and place your hands together with your index fingers touching each other and thumbs touching each other to from a “diamond” shape. Bend your arms and lower your body as you would when doing a traditional push-up, and then straighten your arms and raise your body to complete 1 rep.

Walk down plank + shoulder slap

Start this move standing up. Place your hands on the floor, walking them out until you are in plank position. Pick one arm up and touch it to your shoulder. After doing this with both arms, walk your hands backwards up to a standing position to complete 1 rep.

Up-down plank

This exercise is not only a challenge for your arms but for your core as well! To complete an up-down plank, start in a high-plank position with palms on the ground. Move your right arm so that your forearm is resting on the ground, and then do the same thing with your left arm. Then bring your right arm back to high-plank position and follow by doing the same with your left arm.

Bicep curls + pulse

Biceps are one of the most difficult upper-body muscles to work without weights. The easiest way to strengthen your biceps without weights, in my opinion, is to do bicep curls, focusing on creating resistance as you go through the motions. You can also pulse at the bottom, middle, and top of the curl to make this exercise more challenging. Finally, if you really want to get a great burn out of your bicep curls but don’t have any weights, you can get creative with items you have around your house! For example, you could use a can of soup or vegetables, a bag of potatoes, or a jug of water in place of weights.

If you don’t have any weights or other strength equipment at your fingertips this summer, I hope you give some of these exercises a try! While they won’t give you the upper-body of the Hulk, these exercises will make you stronger and make lifting your massive textbooks or jam-packed backpack a breeze!