Build stronger arms and better posture right in the living room.

By Maggie Seaver
August 04, 2020
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Looking to unlock more strength in your arms, chest, and shoulders? Smart move. Because giving proper attention to the muscles in your arms and upper back isn’t all about how you look in a tank top. Proper arm strength helps provide the durability and balance that your body craves. It makes daily tasks like lifting boxes, loading the car, and even sitting at a desk easier—and less likely to cause injury. And, of course, you’ll feel stronger and more confident as objects that used to be too heavy start to seem lighter and certain activities start to feel more effortless.

“[The] triceps, lats (latissimus dorsi muscles), and core are all important in providing support for strength, posture, and control through the body,” says Jennifer Esquer, PT, DPT, a physical therapist, influencer, and creator of The Mobility Method and The Optimal Body. “The more strength we have through all different ranges of motion, the more control we have to minimize pain and injury.”

And you don’t need to rely on the gym, pricey classes, or complicated equipment to start improving your arm strength. And that’s especially great news these days, when most of our living rooms and backyards are doubling as workout spaces. 

Below, check out three moves from Esquer meant to target the triceps in safe progression, while engaging the core, shoulders, pecs, and upper back. The best part? Zero resistance bands, dumbbells, or excess equipment required—all you need is a little space to move and the will to work. 

And don’t miss Esquer’s full video demo for each exercise, above.

1

These are trickier than they look, but keep at it. They’ll get easier with practice and repetition. To keep your core tight and reduce strain on the lower back, remember to exhale on the upward movement, drawing your belly button up and in. 

(A) Start in a modified plank position with knees on the floor and elbows directly under shoulders.

(B) Push elbows into the ground, bring the rib cage up and into the core, and tuck the tailbone under to squeeze glutes.

(C) Push up evenly from both hands until arms are extended straight, then slowly bend back down plank.

To make them harder: Start with feet on the floor in full plank position, or start with elbows even closer to the body. 

RELATED: How to Do a Proper Plank That Works All the Right Muscles

2

This exercise might look like child’s play, but it really works the triceps, core, and mind—it’s all about balance and control. Note: Don't let your hips fully roll back down to the ground.

(A) Begin on the floor, lying on your back and place your hands flat on either side of your body.

(B) Lift hips up and over shoulders, tucking into a tight ball (hands stay flat and steady on the floor).

(C) Slowly roll hips back down until just before your tailbone touches the ground—the moment before it does, push right back up.

3

Ready to work those pecs, too? You can use any raised surface for elevated push-ups, as long as it’s very sturdy (no injuries, please!). The back of a couch, a countertop, or a heavy, stable chair all work—Esquer uses the seat of a chair to demonstrate. Find something that’s high or low enough to suit your push-up comfort level (the lower the surface, the harder they’ll be). 

(A) Use proper push-up form: Thumbs are in line with the nipple line 

Elbows naturally bend at 45 degree angle (don’t let your elbows squeeze too close to the body or flare outward)

Tuck the tailbone under, squeeze the glutes, and draw in belly button to keep the core activated and aligned

(B) Lower chest to chair and press all the way up, keeping shoulder blades open and pressing away from spine at the top of the push-up.

RELATED: Easy Exercises to Help You Eliminate Annoying Aches and Pains