6 arm exercises without equipment

Do you want muscular arms? Of course you do! Who wouldn't want it? It's almost as certain as if you ask a blind person if they would like to have their sight. And many Internet users type " arm workout without equipment  "on Google, Bing and consor.

Why ?

Probably because they are convinced that you can build up your arms without equipment. Or that they dream about it for their savings!

And it is (almost) true.

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Why you want bigger arms

Yes, everyone wants to know how to improve their arm muscles.

Men want big knobs, while women want toned and shaped arms. Not only for aesthetic reasons. Also because arms...we use them all the time. Even to open a jar of pickles!

Arms, like abs, are at the forefront of many people's minds when it comes to building muscle. However, arms are not like calves whose size is often determined by genetics.

No, arms usually require a lot of work to get results.

Gym owners know this. That's why they often have tons of equipment designed just for arm work. In reality, all this equipment is not necessarily essential.

Arm training without equipment - Not always easy

arm workout without equipment

Getting results is simply a matter of workload and training plan.

But here's the thing, if like me you travel a lot or work out at home, you need to take certain steps to reach your goal. You still need to follow a program, while finding a way to get some exercise. muscle volume without using dumbbells. Luckily, there are a number of arm exercises you can do anywhere.

They mainly require the use of your body weight. 

Before we talk about the exercises themselves, let's take a moment to talk about the biceps and triceps. This will help you understand how to change their appearance.

The importance of balance

Leaving aside the forearm for the moment, the main muscles of the arm are the biceps and triceps. You need to focus on them during your training if you want to improve their aesthetics and strength.

It's important to remember right away that if you use light loads, you will never get volume. Even if you do endless reps. This may help make them more visible if you lose fat, but you won't gain volume.

Or too little.

In order to force your muscles to grow, you absolutely must gradually increase the resistance or weight.

Normally, you should only be able to perform the movement for a maximum of 6 to 12 reps. It is extremely important to train the biceps and triceps in a balanced manner to avoid disproportions and injuries.

Let's start with the triceps. 

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Muscle the triceps

The triceps are located at the back of the arm. Unfortunately, they are often neglected by men who prefer the muscles they can easily see, namely the biceps. However, it is important to pay special attention to the triceps because they are the most important muscle group.

So, if you want bigger arms, you definitely need to work on them.

Training the triceps is not only important for men. Women are genetically predisposed to store fat there. Sometimes we compare it to bat wings (hello, Batman!).

Of course, the best way to eliminate fat is to have the right diet to create a caloric deficit. But that alone will not improve your appearance. In fact, it is also extremely important to strengthen the triceps to give the arm a toned appearance and to make the muscles appear. 

Build up the biceps

The biceps are actually relatively small muscles. But because they are located at the front of the arms, they are often associated with strength.

In addition to their aesthetic interest, they are extremely important in the practice of sports. In fact, they are involved in every movement that consists of pulling towards oneself, for example in exercises designed to strengthen the back.

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Therefore, strong biceps help you to improve the performance of a large number of exercises. They therefore considerably reduce the risk of injury.

Let's move on to the actual exercises...

The best exercises to build triceps without equipment

The really good news about triceps (and pecs for that matter) is that you can really train them anywhere and without equipment. At worst, what you have at home will do.

You need the floor, the walls, possibly chairs, a table, etc. Really, nothing fancy. Here are 3 of the best exercises for triceps development:

1. Diamond pumps

I'm not telling you it's easy, far from it! But if you do them correctly, they will really help you work your triceps.

Normally, when you do push-ups, you place your hands beyond your shoulder width.

Why ?

To work both pectorals and triceps. And for aesthetics. The more you spread your hands, the more you will work the width of the pectoral muscles.

But today, what you're interested in is focusing on the triceps. That's exactly what you're going to do by placing your hands under your shoulders and keeping your elbows close to your chest to do a diamond pump. You don't have to bring them any closer together to avoid straining your wrist joints.

You will really pound your triceps.


How you should do it:

Watch this video to get the push-ups right first:

Get into a push-up position by bringing your hands together until your index fingers and thumbs are touching.

Your hands will form a diamond shape in the middle (hence the name of the exercise). Keep your elbows as close to your chest as possible and move down until your chest touches the back of your hands. Remember to keep your abs, buttocks and thighs contracted throughout the movement.

Push on your arms to return to the initial position. Blow (and suffer)...

Be careful, it stings!

Alternatives if too difficult at first:

  • Diamond pumps on the knees. Here's an exercise to get you on your knees 😀
  • Diamond pumps against a wall
  • Diamond push-ups with hands on a chair or bench

Alternatives if it's too easy:

  • Diamond push-ups with feet supported on a chair or bench
  • Diamond pumps with a loaded backpack or resistance bands

2. Dips for arm training without equipment

This was my favorite exercise when I was working out in the weight room. This is really a great exercise to work the triceps as well as the entire torso.

For most beginners, bench dips are a good place to start. But your goal should be to progress to being able to perform them on a dip station or some parallel bars. If not, you can lean on the backs of two fairly solid chairs (as in Olivier Lafay's method).

How you should do it:

Set up 2 chairs or 2 benches facing each other. Place your hands on the chair or bench behind you. Place your feet on the chair or bench facing you. Keep your back straight during the whole movement.

Lower your arms until your elbows are at a right angle. Then pull up with your arms until they are straight again. Remember to keep your back straight.

You can view this video (cast iron discs are not required). 

Alternatives if too difficult at first:

Alternatives if it's too easy:

  • Classic dips (see above) with a loaded backpack
  • Dips on parallel bars
  • Dips on parallel bars with a loaded backpack

Caution: If you use a backpack, make sure it is strong enough. 

3. Extension of the triceps

Polyarticular exercises, such as push-ups and dips, are great because they work multiple muscle groups at once. But isolation exercises, those that work a single joint, are also important in a workout.

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As you can see, this exercise is an isolation exercise since it focuses exclusively on the triceps.

How you should do it:

You can view this video first.

Stand facing the wall and place your hands on the wall, 6 to 8 inches apart. Move your feet away from the wall so that your body is straight when your arms are extended. Keep your abs and glutes tight during the exercise to keep you upright.

Now bend your elbows, letting your body come up to the wall. Your elbows should not move away from the wall. When your forearms are almost touching the wall, push your body back using only the strength of your triceps.

If you have the opportunity, it is ideal to do this exercise with TRX straps or some resistance bands that you can take anywhere.

Then you just have to proceed as in this video:

Alternatives if too difficult at first:

In fact, the closer your feet are to the wall and the higher your hands are placed (at face level, for example), the easier the exercise is.

If you use hanging strapsThe exercise will be easier if your body is closer to the vertical.

Alternatives if it's too easy:

With the TRX strapsYou will increase the difficulty by leaning your body more forward. Be sure to keep your abdominal and gluteal muscles tight to keep your body straight.

The best exercises for biceps training without dumbbells

Unfortunately, unlike the triceps, it is very difficult to work the biceps and the back without any equipment. You can find on the internet some more or less crazy methods using for example the opposite leg as a dumbbell. It can work, but I think you will quickly be overwhelmed by this kind of exercise.

In any case, very little for me. At the very least, you will need to find a fairly solid table to hang yourself by passing underneath.

The ideal is to have TRX straps, from resistance bands or a drawbar for example. Let's start with the exercise you can do with a simple table.

1. Reverse Rowing

This is one of the best exercises for the biceps, abdominal muscles and back. It's pretty hard to mess up this move, which means you can gradually make it more difficult without increasing your risk of injury.

Here's how to do it by crawling under a table:

How you should do it:

Lie down under the table. Remember to sweep up first if you've left bread crumbs on the floor, because it's scratchy 😉

Grab the edge of the table with your palms facing away from your face (hands in overhand). Contract your abdominal muscles, and try to keep your body straight. Pull your body up until your pecs touch the table.

Return to your starting position and repeat.

Alternatives if too difficult at first:

  • Rowing an arm on a door jamb. It's not very aesthetic (not to say it looks a bit mentally challenged), but it works ;). Keep your legs in squat position.
  • Rowing with a towel. You still need to find a post to hang it on. Otherwise, window grills or a gate can do the trick.

Alternatives if it's too easy:

  • Inverted rowing with the feet raised
  • Rowing with weight. For example, you can use a more or less loaded backpack that you place in front of your chest (otherwise you risk hurting your back).

2. Barbell pull-ups for the biceps

Pull-ups are a major exercise for building back and biceps muscle. It is terribly effective.

I think this movement is more effective for volume than dumbbell curls because of the bodyweight work. But also because the range of motion is much greater. That's what makes it so difficult for beginners.

But the results are as good as the effort. Superb!

If it is too difficult

And you'll see that there are ways to make it easier at the beginning to progress on this exercise. First of all, getting into the habit of doing the previous exercise (reverse rowing) is a good way to prepare for this one.

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However, you will need a minimum of material to make it, starting with a drawbar. There are cheaper ones, but I don't recommend them.

In particular, avoid the ones that spread when screwed in, unless you have very strong door frames. I've had problems with this type of hardware because it would end up working the doorjamb or the bar would come off after several pulls. I think it can be OK if you weigh 60-70kg maximum. 

I know it's a small investment. But you won't regret it if you want to take your biceps and back muscles to the next level.

If you want to relieve your hands during this exercise, it is best to buy special grips (called Iron Grip).

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How you should perform the pull-ups:

Grab the bar with the palms in supination (towards your face) with a grip that is slightly less than your shoulders. Contract your buttocks and abs to keep your body straight. You can also raise your feet behind you to keep them off the ground.

As you bring your chest toward the bar, you should also contract your upper back at the shoulder blades. Pause for one to two seconds when you are at the top, then go down slowly.

Alternatives if too difficult at first:

  • Negative traction. You'll use your legs to give yourself some momentum on the way up, and you'll focus on letting your body descend slowly.
  • Pull-ups aided by a resistance band. It's up to you how to use one or more resistance bands to help you. But you don't want the bands to do all the work for you 😉

Alternatives if too easy (is it possible?):

  • Weighted pull-ups. As with the other exercises, you can take a more or less loaded backpack to increase the difficulty. You can also ask a friend who weighs 110 kg to hold on to you 😀

3. Biceps curls with TRX straps or resistance bands

As with the triceps work, I end with an isolation exercise for the biceps. In reality, you don't have to do this if you regularly do reverse rowing and pull-ups.

If you use resistance bandsAll you have to do is work like you would with dumbbells.

How to perform curls with TRX straps

View first this video.

Stand facing the anchor point. Hold your wrists with your arms outstretched and hands in supination. Move your feet forward so that your body is leaning back.

The further you go, the more difficult the exercise will be.

Contract your buttocks and abs so that your body stays upright. Pull on the handles without moving your elbows apart so that your hands are on either side of your head. Slowly return to the original position until your arms are straight. 

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Arm training without equipment - An accessible challenge?

As you can see, it is possible to build up your triceps without any equipment. As for the biceps, you will need to find at least a table for rowing or a bar of some kind for be able to do pull-ups.

There are some exotic techniques that I mentioned above, but it seems to me to be highly unrealistic in the long run. That's why I wrote "with little or no equipment" in the title.

I assure you that the exercises I am talking about here are really part of the more efficient to build up your arms. You really can do without dumbbells if you want.

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Last updated on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Some images are sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API

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