Today’s yoga upper body workout at home is a bodyweight workout that will not require dumbbells. I have been working out consistently for over a decade and became a NASM-certified personal trainer in my forties. Yet, when I started doing these yoga bodyweight workouts, I saw results that blew my mind. Want strong and defined arms, shoulders, and core? This 20-minute upper body routine is the workout for you! Furthermore, this post provides different variations to give you options, including some exercises with dumbbells. Enjoy!
Upper Body Workout Without Equipment With Yoga
As usual, I like to provide workout ideas for beginners (for example, check out my Crazy Effective Hip Flexor Strength Exercises). Today’s yoga routine is perfect for women seeking an upper-body workout at home without weights. I also think that beginners will benefit from my video routine. However, if you find some moves too challenging because you can’t get into the poses, consider training to improve your flexibility or try the beginner moves below.
How to Improve Your Flexibility
Stretching daily will improve your flexibility. I offer many free flexibility resources (you will find a list of some of my routines in this post) and created a Full-Body Flexibility Transformation Program for women serious about seeing progress.
Upper Body Workout at Home for Beginners
My upper body workouts are typically better suited for women because most women seek toned and defined shoulders and arms rather than a more muscular body. If you want to build more muscle, eventually, you will need to lift dumbbells. As for me, I am satisfied with the results I have been getting using these upper body workouts without dumbells.
Here’s an upper body workout that you can do at home as a beginner using only body weight:
- Push-ups (3 sets of 10 reps): Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the ground, then push back up to the starting position. If you can’t do a full push-up, you can modify it by doing them on your knees.
- Chair dips (3 sets of 10 reps): Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair or bench with your hands gripping the edge. Walk your feet out, so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Lower your body down towards the ground by bending your elbows, then push back up to the starting position.
- Pike push-ups (3 sets of 10 reps): Start in a downward dog position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Slowly lower your head towards the ground, then push back up to the starting position.
- Diamond push-ups (3 sets of 10 reps): Start in a plank position with your hands close together under your chest in a diamond shape. Lower your body down towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your body. Push back up to the starting position.
- Superman lifts (3 sets of 10 reps): Lie face down on the ground with your arms and legs extended. Lift your arms and legs up off the ground as high as you can, then lower them back down.
This upper body workout at home should be done a few times each week for best results. Or, try following along with the video routine below.
Upper Body Workout at Home with Dumbbells
If you have access to dumbbells at home, you can incorporate them into your upper body workout routine. Here are some exercises that you can try:
- Bicep curls: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing forward. Keeping your elbows close to your body, lift the dumbbells to your shoulders and then lower them back down. Aim to do three sets of 10-15 reps.
- Shoulder press: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold dumbbells at shoulder level with your palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells up overhead and lower them back down to shoulder level. Aim to do three sets of 10-15 reps.
- Bent-over rows: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees slightly, and hinge forward at the hips. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other and pull them up toward your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower the dumbbells back down and repeat. Aim to do three sets of 10-15 reps.
- Chest press: Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells at chest level with your palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells up toward the ceiling and then lower them back down. Aim to do three sets of 10-15 reps.
- Tricep kickbacks: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other. Hinge forward at the hips and extend your arms back, squeezing your triceps. Lower the dumbbells back down and repeat. Aim to do three sets of 10-15 reps.
Remember to choose dumbbells appropriate for your fitness level and warm up before starting your workout. You can increase the intensity of these exercises by using heavier dumbbells, adding more reps or sets, or decreasing the rest time between sets.
Yoga Upper Body Workout at Home
Yoga is a great way to improve overall fitness, including weight loss, without the need for dumbbells or other equipment. While yoga may not burn as many calories as more high-intensity workouts like running or weightlifting, it can still be an effective tool for weight loss. If you are looking for a way to build your upper body without going to the gym, yoga may be the answer you have been looking for!
I created a 5-Day Yoga Habit Challenge to get you started. During the challenge, you will receive daily 5-minute yoga routines and habit mini-coaching sessions so that you can finally feel energized, strong, and flexible.
Yoga Upper Body Workout at Home to Lose Weight
Yoga poses focusing on the upper body can help tone and strengthen the shoulders, arms, chest, and back muscles, increasing muscle mass and improving metabolism. This, in turn, can help to burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re not actively exercising.
Additionally, many yoga poses can be challenging and require much effort, which can elevate your heart rate and increase calorie burn. Yoga also helps reduce stress, which can significantly contribute to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
Some specific yoga poses that can be particularly effective for toning and strengthening the upper body include (all the moves are in the follow-along video routine):
- Downward dog pose: Form an inverted V-shape with your body, pressing your hands and feet into the ground while stretching your spine and legs
- Pllank pose: Hold a straight, push-up-like position with your arms extended and your body in a straight line from head to heels, engaging your core and glutes to maintain stability.
- Chaturanga pose: Lower your body from a plank position to a low push-up, keeping your elbows close to your sides and engaging your core and upper body muscles for stability and control.
- Upward-facing dog pose: Lift your chest and upper body off the ground while keeping your hands and feet in contact with the floor, stretching your spine and engaging your core and upper body muscles.
- Dolphin pose: Similar to downward-facing dog, but with your forearms on the ground, pressing your forearms and elbows into the floor to stretch your spine and shoulders while strengthening your core and upper body.
Incorporating these poses into your yoga routine, a healthy diet, and regular exercise can effectively support weight loss goals. Read Yoga for Weight Loss: 10 Yoga Poses for a Flat Belly to learn more.
Can You Build Muscle With Yoga?
Yes, you can build muscle with yoga, especially if you are new to exercise or looking for a low-impact way to build strength and muscle tone. While yoga may not build muscle as quickly or to the same degree as weightlifting, it can still be an effective way to strengthen and tone your muscles. In fact, I found it more effective than lifting weights to see toning and definition in my arms, shoulders, and arms (likely because I didn’t like lifting and didn’t push hard enough).
Many yoga poses require holding your body weight in a particular position, which can help to build muscle and increase strength. Poses such as plank, chaturanga, and warrior II are particularly effective for building upper-body and lower-body strength.
Yoga also helps to improve flexibility, balance, and posture, which can further support muscle building and prevent injury. Holding poses for extended periods and moving through sequences of poses can increase your heart rate and get a cardiovascular workout, which can help burn calories and build lean muscle.
To maximize muscle building with yoga, it is essential to challenge yourself by holding poses for extended periods, trying more advanced poses, and increasing the intensity of your practice over time. You can also incorporate props such as blocks, straps, and blankets to help deepen your poses and build strength.
Additionally, fueling your body with a balanced diet that includes enough protein to support muscle growth and recovery is crucial. With consistent practice and a healthy diet, yoga can be a great way to build strength, tone your muscles, and improve your overall fitness.
Yoga Body Composition Transformation
If you still doubt that yoga can help you achieve your fitness goal, let me share some of my transformation pictures. Read 1-Year Yoga Transformation: Before and After Pictures for a more extensive overview.
Now, in all fairness, I started intermittent fasting around the same time I started yoga. Learn more about my weight loss over 40 here. That said, in the following picture, you will see a comparison at the same weight.
Needing More Convincing that Yoga Is the Ultimate Upper Body Workout?
Are you convinced yoga is the most effective upper body workout at home without dumbbells yet?
While there are many effective upper body workouts that you can do at home, yoga is a unique and effective way to build strength, increase flexibility, and tone your muscles. Here are some reasons why yoga may be the most effective upper body workout for you:
- Builds functional strength: Yoga focuses on building functional strength, which means strengthening your muscles to improve your ability to perform everyday movements. This includes movements such as reaching, lifting, and carrying, essential for daily life.
- Targets multiple muscle groups: Yoga poses often require engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which can help you get a full-body workout even when focusing on the upper body. For example, poses such as plank and chaturanga require engagement of the core, arms, and shoulders, while poses such as downward dog and upward dog target the upper body and back muscles.
- Increases flexibility: Many yoga poses also help to increase flexibility, improving your range of motion and preventing injury. This is particularly important for the upper body, where tightness in the shoulders and chest can lead to poor posture and pain.
- Low-impact: Yoga is a low-impact exercise that is gentle on your joints and can be an excellent option for those with injuries or chronic pain. It is also a good option for beginners who are just starting to build strength and muscle tone.
- Reduces stress: Yoga is known for its stress-reducing benefits, which can positively impact your overall health and well-being. By reducing stress and promoting relaxation, yoga can help reduce inflammation and improve recovery time after workouts.
In summary, while there are many effective upper body workouts that you can do at home, yoga offers a unique combination of functional strength building, multi-muscle targeting, flexibility improvement, low-impact movements, and stress reduction that can make it the most effective choice for your upper body workout routine.
If you need help staying consistent with yoga, I created a 5-Day Yoga Habit Challenge to help you. During the challenge, you will receive daily 5-minute yoga routines and habit mini-coaching sessions so that you can finally feel energized, strong, and flexible.
Yoga Upper Body Workout at Home Video
As promised, here’s your follow-along upper body workout at home video routine.