You don't need fancy gym equipment or a ton of time to challenge your arms. In fact, you can accomplish a lot of work in just five minutes.
As they say, the key is working smarter, not harder.
This effective 5-minute arm workout without weights helps you do just that. Courtesy of Kemma Cunningham, CPT, a group fitness instructor and personal trainer at Life Time Bridgewater, it will strengthen your shoulders, build your biceps and tax your triceps all at once.
Try This 5-Minute Arm Workout
For the best arm burn, Cunningham suggests doing 12 reps of each exercise in an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) for 5 minutes or simply perform each move for 1 minute (that gives you plenty of time to transition between moves without going over 5 minutes).
Bonus: Because this workout is short, sweet and gives you great workout without crushing your upper body or leaving you sore, you can do it every day. Consistency for the win.
Move 1: Wide Arm Circle
- Stand tall, bracing your core and extending your arms out to the sides.
- Sweep your arms forward in a circular pattern with your palms down.
- Reverse the circular motion, moving your arms backward.
- Continue sweeping your arms forward and backward for 12 reps or 30 seconds.
This mobility move is a great way to warm up your arm muscles, Cunningham says. Don’t be surprised if you feel a burn right away.
Move 2: Inchworm
- Start standing, push your hips back, fold your torso forward and walk your hands out in front of you until you come into a high plank.
- Keep a tight core and flat back as you hold the plank for a few seconds.
- Walk your hands back to your feet.
- Stand back up and repeat.
The inchworm is a total-body exercise that increases arm strength and flexibility, especially in your shoulders, Cunningham says. It can also loosen tight hamstrings, improve hip mobility and build a sturdy core.
Move 3: Plank Shoulder Tap
- Begin in a high plank with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels. You can position your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart for more stability.
- Shift your weight forward onto your hands.
- Keeping your hips square, lift one hand off the ground and tap your opposite shoulder.
- Place your hand back on the ground, then repeat the same thing on the other side, continuing to alternate.
This challenging plank variation strengthens the shoulders, improves posture and reduces back pain, Cunningham says.
Move 4: Commando
- Begin in a high plank with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Keeping your hips as square as possible, lift one hand off the ground and lower your forearm to the ground, stacking your shoulder over the elbow.
- Then repeat with the other hand so both forearms are flat on the ground.
- Pause here, then take the arm that went down first and plant that hand on the mat. Push yourself up on that side.
- Then take the other arm, plant your hand and push yourself back up to the top position of a push-up.
- On the next rep, switch the arm that goes down first.
Commandos, also called up-and-down planks, strengthen the arms, chest and shoulders at once, Cunningham says.