Forget dumbbells – You only need this 5-minute workout to build muscle in your upper body

These 10 bodyweight exercises are awesome on their own or as a finisher after an arm or pecs workout

Trainer man exercise for functional plank training and gym the gym workout for healthy care and body building. Fitness instructor exercising the fitness. Healthy sport Concept
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We all want our bodies to perform at their best, and resistance training can help you achieve that. However, it can be tough to find time to exercise. The answer to this conundrum is this super quick upper body workout that uses your body's weight as resistance and features 10 exercises only. You can do it on your lunch break, before work, or whenever you like; five minutes is all you need to get fit in 2023!

Apart from looking more muscular, upper-body workouts can help you in a variety of ways. Research (opens in new tab) demonstrated that resistance training might "positively affect risk factors such as insulin resistance, resting metabolic rate, glucose metabolism, blood pressure, body fat, and gastrointestinal transit time, which are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer." All the more reason to roll out your exercise mat and do this exercise session.

This workout lasts for five minutes, with each of the 10 featured exercises performed for 30 seconds. There are no rest periods between moves; it's only five minutes, after all! Focus on slow, controlled movement to maximise the mind-muscle connection. The exercises featured in the video are:

  • Rear delt row: Concentrate on your shoulder blades on contraction (when pulling the arms back).
  • Reach for the stars: Similar movement as above, and the focus is also on the concentrating phase (when pulling the arms down).
  • Tricep push-ups and shoulder taps: You can do this on your knees if you haven't got the core strength to keep your body straight.
  • Superman with arm pulls: Be careful with the lower back and avoid arching the spine too much.
  • Diamond push-ups going into standard push-ups: Diamond push-ups really challenge the triceps!
  • Rear delt shoulder rotation: Keep your arms straight and perpendicular to the ground.
  • Wrist twist: Not letting your arms drop is the real challenge with this one.
  • Elbow pull down: Working on those delts shoulders still, make sure you squeeze those shoulder blades like you mean it.
  • Rear delt wrist twist: Same as above, but pull the arms back at each twist.
  • Triceps dips: Bend the arms, not the hips.

If you enjoyed this workout and would like to take your upper body workouts to the next level, we have a few options for you. If you don't mind going to the gym – or have a well-furnished home gym – you must try this two-day push-pull upper body workout; it's your express ticket to big arms and pecs land. If you'd rather not handle dumbbells, this 15-minute resistance band upper body exercise routine is the one you should try. Or you can let Alexander Skarsgård's PT get you Northman fit!

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other content creators in the past, such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab). When he isn't working out, he loves roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment, including microphones, cameras and more.