Some of the best arm exercises are body weight exercises.
You can actually work almost every muscle in your upper body simply by using your body weight as resistance.
Some of the best arm exercises that only use your body weight are push ups, dips, pull ups, or inverted rows.
There are many benefits to using your body weight. When you compare push ups to a chest press machine, the push ups will promote enhanced scapular stability and increased shoulder coordination.
And when you compare pull ups to the lat pull down machine, you'll get the same differences. The pull up will promote more shoulder stability because you will have to control your body weight and prevent yourself from swinging.
Another benefit of these body weight exercises is that they allow your body to move in its preferred path of motion. When you use machines, there is generally a fixed path and your body has to adjust to the path of the machine. However, with push ups or pull ups your body will move along the path that is unique to your body.
Machine can be an important part of an overall upper body workout, but another disadvantage of machines is that they don't challenge your core muscles as much as free weights or exercises that use your body weight. So, another benefit of body weight arm exercises is increased core muscle work.
Mastering your body weight is a great way to build your upper body strength.
Push Ups are really one of my favorite arm exercises, and I love the fact that you can do them anywhere.
Push ups will help to tone and strengthen the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Because of the position push ups can also help to strengthen your core muscles, and they are great to increase shoulder stability.
Pull ups are a nemesis for many people because they cannot even do one pull up. For many people the pull up is the ultimate test of upper body strength, and they strengthen your grip, forearm and wrist muscles, biceps, shoulders, scapular muscles, and back muscles.
If you cannot do one pull up, you can use a pull up assist machine. Pull up assist machines come in many varieties, but generally you would kneel or stand on a bar that helps to push you up during pull ups. This is a great way to practice the motion and build up your strength.
You can also do inverted rows to build up your strength for pull ups. The inverted row is probably between 40-60% of your body weight depending on the angle you use.
Dips are a great tricep exercise. You can do full dips from two parallel bars or dip bars, or you can do bench dips. Of course full dips are very challenging because you are lifting you entire body weight; whereas, bench dips only require you to lift a portion of your body weight.
If it's been ages since you've done these body weight exercises, try adding them back into your workout. Start off slow, set some goals for yourself and then build up your strength.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT
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