The 8 Minute, No Equipment Upper Body Workout

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The 8 Minute, No Equipment Upper Body Workout

Whether you run, cycle or hike, your legs and lungs are accustomed to getting a good workout. But what about your upper body? Strong arms help hold you up while on the bike; they help you power up hills whether you’re running or walking. The good news is it doesn’t take long to firm your upper body—the following

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routine takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

Dara Theodore, trainer at The Fhitting Room in New York City, created this fast and effective arm workout that can be done anywhere. The routine below is divided into four circuits. Perform the exercises in each set back-to-back, then enjoy a quick break before moving on to the next circuit. You’ll end the workout with a quick round of burpees. (Sorry!) “I love combining [the below] exercises together because they not only target your arms, but engage your shoulders, back and your core, too. Ending the routine with burpees will give you a high-intensity, explosive finish that will leave you breathless,” Theodore explains.

The GIFs below will teach you how to perform each exercise. Do the entire workout once—it should take you about eight minutes, so no excuses! And if you’re looking for a crazy-tough routine, rest for 90 seconds, then repeat the entire circuit one more time.

Circuit 1

Diamond Push-Ups

Start in a plank position. Bring index fingers and thumbs to meet, forming a triangle under chest. Bend elbows and lower torso as close to ground as possible. Push through palms to straighten arms. Modify this move by dropping to knees. Do 10 reps.

diamond push-ups

Superman Holds With Squeeze

Lie face down on mat and hold arms out to sides at shoulder-height, thumbs facing up. Lift chest, arms and legs off ground simultaneously. Pause, then lower back to mat. Do 10 reps, then rest for 30 seconds.

superman holds with squeeze

Circuit 2

Plank Ups

Start in a forearm plank. Keeping abs tight and spine long, pick up right arm and right palm on ground. Repeat on left side, ending up in a high-plank position. Now reverse the movement, replacing right palm with right elbow and left palm with left elbow. That’s 1 rep. Be sure to keep hips still and facing the ground throughout the routine. Do 10 reps, alternating starting arms with each rep.

plank ups

Inchworm to Push-Up

Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Hinge forward at hips and place palms on floor, bending knees as needed to reach. Walk hands forward so that you’re in a plank position. Do 1 push-up, keeping elbows close to torso, dropping to knees if needed. Walk hands back toward feet and stand up. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 total. Rest for 30 seconds.


Circuit 3

Dive Bomber Push-Up

Start in a downward facing dog position. Sweep chest down and through arms lowering through a push-up. Straighten arms end in a cobra position. Now push through palms and hips to return to downward facing dog. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

dive-bomber push-up

Tricep Dips

Stand in front of a chair or couch seat. Place hands on seat with fingers pointing forward. Keep back flat and walk legs out in front of body. Bend arms and lower butt toward ground, being sure to keep elbows directly behind body. Straighten arms to complete 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

tricep dips

Circuit 4


Your favorite. Our favorite.

Start standing. Squat down until hands touch floor and kick feet back into a plank position. Drop chest to floor, then jump feet wide, then to the sides of hands, then back to standing position. Jump up and immediately move to the next rep. Do as many reps as you can for one minute. Your goal: Do at least 15 reps.


To see a video of the entire workout, click here.

About the Author


SELF is the magazine that makes living healthy easy and fun. SELF’s motto: Being fit, strong and active means feeling great, being happy and looking your most beautiful. With trademark authority, SELF speaks to women about three key areas of her being: her body, her looks and her life. SELF makes it fun and fulfilling to be your happiest, healthiest, best self. Reaching a total audience of 12 million each month, SELF is the founder of the Pink Ribbon for breast cancer awareness and an ASME National Magazine Award winner for excellence in journalistic achievement in print and digital. SELF is published by Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit, GQ, Glamour, The New Yorker, Wired and other celebrated media brands. Visit and follow @SELFmagazine on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foodily and Google+.

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