Upper Body

This page offers a brief overview of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts that can be done at home that focus on the upper body. These workouts are here to inspire you to be active when you are interested and try something new. Therefore you should never feel obligated or pressured to exercise, please listen to what your mind and body are asking of you. We have tried to make each of these workouts accessible and scalable to any level, if you are unsure of a movement please google it as we have not yet had time to make tutorials for all movements. If you have any questions or comments please reach out to us! We would love to hear from you. 

Modifying Movements 

We all have different physical skills, experiences, and previous injuries. Therefore it is imperative that you adapt each movement to fit your needs and desires. You can modify these movements in any way, but we suggest a few possible ways below.
  • Push-ups: To increase the difficulty you can make them clapping push-ups, or vary the position of your hands. At any point if it becomes too difficult to do a push up here is a step wise way to make them easier. 
    • Plank Push-up: Come down in a flat plank till your chest touches the ground, then drop your knees and come up. 
    • Knee Push-up: Drop your knees to the ground, bring your chest to the ground, push up. 
  • Dips: To increase the difficulty put a weight on your lap, to decrease the difficulty move 

Making at Home Weights 

If you do not have weights or stretch bands, here are a few ways to make weights at home. You can fill up any bag (hand bags, backpacks, suitcases) with heavy items (filled water bottles, books, canned food) from around your house. Get creative! If you do have weights or resistance bands, please make sure they are appropriate and safe to use. 


Black Jack

This workout gets its name from everyone’s favorite poker game. Throughout it you will be building sets of 21 with groups of 3 different movements. This workout focuses on burning out a specific muscle group one at a time. You will need one weight that you can do 7 reps of raises with. Make sure you do not go over 21 and bust! 

  • 7 regular push ups, 7 wide push-ups, 7 diamond pushups 
    • You can modify push-ups 
  • 7 regular dips, 7 wide dips, 7 regular dips 
    • You can make dips easier by bringing your legs closer in
  • 7 front raises, 7 side raises, 7 bent raise 
    • You can drop weight if needed 

Repeat 3 times!

Bear’s Play

This workout is inspired by one of our favorite woodland creatures, soft, cuddly, and with an upper body that can run faster than you. For this workout you will not need any weights, but you will need space, about 15 feet. Try to channel your inner bear..

  • Do as many walking push-ups as you can within the space you have (10-15 feet)
  • Bear crawl back to the start 
  • Do 15 dips or 15 handstand push-ups 

Repeat until you feel like a bear 

Delicious Deltoids

Yup, this workout has one focus and one focus only, those deltoids. While there are a number of different movements that work your entire upper body, each one will hit a different part of your deltoids. For this workout you will need one set of weights that you can do for 10 reps with. See the start of this page on how to make weights at home. 

  • 10 front delt raises 
  • 10 decline push-ups 
  • 10 side delt raises 
  • 10 dips (as deep as you can go!)
  • 10 bent raises 
  • 10 upright row 

Repeat for 3 rounds or until you can not feel your shoulders. If too easy, increase your weight! 

Scrub Body

This workout mainly focuses on building biceps, ticepts, and forearms for surgery season. You will need two sets of weights, a heavier set that you can do for 4-8 reps, and a lighter set that you can do for 10-14 reps. For making at home weights see the top of this post. 

  • 8 reps bicep curls, heavier weight 
  • 8 reps overhead tricep extension, heavier weight 
  • 14 reps bicep curls, lighter weight 
  • 14 reps overhead tricep extension, lighter weight 

Repeat counting down by reps of two for 3 rounds. (8-6-4 and 14-12-10) 


This workout will target the larger muscles, chest, back, shoulder, and core. Perform each movement for either until 1 minute has or until you have reached muscle failure. You will need one weight for all exercises, see above for how to make weights. 

  • Push-ups: One round each of Traditional, Diamond, Neutral
  • Single arm rows
  • Shoulder Raise: Forward and Lateral 
  • Dips 
  • Arm circles: One round forward and reverse
  • Regular Plank for
  • Sit ups
  • Flutter Kicks
Push Up Ladder

Just when you think you’ve done all the possible push up variations you can do at home…BAM push up ladder surprise. This one is easily scalable and will get your shoulders, chest, back and arms feeling it by the time you’re done.

The move for the push up ladder goes like this:
-Start with your chest on the ground, legs straight out
-Bring your elbows in close and move up to the plank position
-Then move up into the push up position
-Then move into an elevated push up position (use a coffee table, couch, stack of books etc)
-Do 1 elevated push up
-Make your way back down through each position
That’s 1 rep
Increase difficulty by moving both arms to each position simultaneously (IE ‘jumping’ rather than ‘stepping’).

Warm up with 3 rounds of 20x jumping jacks, 10 sec high knees

The push up ladder movement described above will be abbreviated as “PUL”

  • 3x PUL
  • 1 round of workout
  • 6x PUL
  • 1 round of workout
  • 9x PUL
  • 1 round of workout
  • 6x PUL
  • 1 round of workout
  • 3x PUL

The workout consists of:

  • 20x jumping jacks
  • 15x air squats
  • 10x leg lifts
The Bread Maker

Everyone’s been getting into the cooking mood after spending so much time at home. Making bread has become the new fad that it seems like everyone is doing (me included!). But the more bread I make, the more I realized I’ve been slacking on my kneading muscles. So this workout is designed to strengthen the muscles you ~knead~ to make bread while also burning off some of those extra carbs.

Preheat oven to 450 with jumping jacks until you break into a light sweat then

4 rounds of

  • 10x push ups
  • 15x dips
    • You can use a coffee table or chair for these
  • 20x russian twists
  • 2 min cardio (choose one)
    • Jumping jacks
    • Burpees
    • Sprints (if you have room)

You’ll know you’re done when your triceps are sore and you hear a hollow sound when you tap on your chest.

Atlas Shoulder Shrugs

We’re focusing on the upper body today! You’ll coming out of this feeling like you can carry the world (or maybe once you’re not sore anymore…)

Warm up – shoulder mobility (arm circles, dynamic self-hugs) 3x 15 sec each

4 rounds, 1 minute rest between rounds

  • 10x feet elevated push ups
    • The higher your feet are, the harder it gets!
  • 20x mountain climber
  • 30 seconds weighted arm circles
    • Textbooks, boots, potted plants can all be used for weights
    • A little weight goes a long way here!!

Finisher: handstand holds (feet against the wall)

  • Beginner – 3x 15 seconds
  • Intermediate – 2x 30 seconds
  • Advanced – 2x 60 seconds
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