Perhaps the most important aspect of any workout routine, cardio should be part of your day-to-day exercise regimen. Unfortunately, most people tend to forget this part, especially when they are trying to gain muscle.
Thankfully, there are very many different low upper body cardio types that you can do right at home without the need for any equipment.
The beauty of it all is that many of these exercises don’t take up too much of your time and can be squeezed in before you go to work when you get back home or even before you go to sleep.
Are you ready to get your upper body cardio on? Here are 10 of the most straightforward exercises that should get you well underway:
Start by standing with your feet about a hip-width apart. Slowly bend over at the hips and put your palms on the floor (you can bend your knees as needed).
Using only your hands, walk forward slowly until you reach the plank position, then walk back to the starting position before standing up.
That’s considered a single rep. You can do as many of these as your fitness levels will allow, but you are advised to start with 10 reps per set for three sets with 30 second rests in-between. This exercise is designed to tone your arms and work your core.
2. Arm Circles
Performed just as the name sounds, this is a simple enough exercise designed to tone your arms and shoulders. You can perform these while standing or sitting. Start by standing or sitting upright.
Hold your arms straight out to your side so that they are parallel to the floor. Make small, uniform clockwise circles with each arm. Once you get to 10 circles, switch the direction to make 10 anti-clockwise circles.
That counts as one rep. You can do 10 reps for three sets with 30 second breaks in-between. Once you get more advanced, you can hold a dumbbell in each arm as you perform this exercise.
Standing with your feet in a split stance and one of them about a step in front of the other, hips facing forward (squared), punch the air in an uppercut motion.
If your right foot is in front of the left, then punch with your left hand first, then quickly alternate to your right hand. Two punches are considered one rep; do 10 reps per set with three sets taking 30-second rests in-between, then switch feet and repeat.
These are simple enough to do; starting in the normal pushup position, descend to the ground as if doing a pushup. When you reach the top, extend one of your arms up to the sky while slightly twisting your waist and hips so that your upper body faces the extended arm.
That counts as one rep. Do the same thing with the other arm for 10 reps to make a set and three sets to complete the workout. Take 30-second breaks in-between.
5. Shadow Boxing
Like the “Uppercut” exercise, shadow boxing is all about throwing punches in the air with your arms at shoulder height. While professional fighter shadow boxing exercises involve a lot of footwork, yours doesn’t need to be this intense.
All you have to do is hold your legs at shoulder-width apart, raise your arms to shoulder height, then throw one punch after the other for about 5 minutes as one set.
You can do this for 15 minutes to get in an excellent fat-burning session and home workout. You could also use dumbbells if you need more resistance.
6. Plank Walkdown
Start with a forearm plank; ensure that your abs are tight and your spine is straight. Slowly pick up your right elbow off the flow and place your right palm flat on the ground.
Do the same with your left hand, which will put you in a high-plank position. Holding that position for just one second, reverse the movement by lifting your right palm off the floor and replacing it with your right elbow, and then do the same for your left hand.
This takes you back to your starting position. That counts as one rep. You can do 10 reps per set for three sets taking 30-second breaks in-between. This is a great abs workout as well as beneficial arm exercise for the upper body.
7. Overhead Arm Claps
Although they might seem easy, overhead arm claps increase your heart rate in a matter of seconds. This exercise is recommended for obese people who are just getting started on their fitness journey.
It targets the shoulders, arms, and trapezius muscles. To perform this exercise, sit or stand in an upright position. Extend your arms to the side so that they are straight and parallel to the ground.
Lift them both and clap over your head, then bring your hands back to the starting position. Do 60 of these for a minute (one clap per second) as one set; aim for three sets for an arm exercise to help your biceps and triceps.
8. Rhomboid Pulls
Designed to strengthen your shoulders, arms, and back muscles, these are simple to do yet quite effective. To perform this exercise, sit or stand upright, then place your hands as if you were doing a pushup (to the sides, parallel to the ground with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle).
Pull your arms back as if you want your elbows to meet. Pull them back as far as possible, then bring your arms back to the starting position. Do 20 reps to make a set for three sets for a full upper body workout.
Here’s a video showing you how to do Rhomboid Pulls:
9. Swim Without Kicks
Swimming is by far one of the most effective full-body workout exercises we know. However, since we are focusing on upper body cardio workouts, incorporating swimming techniques that don’t call your legs into play is essential.
You can do this by simply holding floaters between your legs and using nothing but your arms to propel you through the water.
10. Wall Pushups
Like regular pushups, wall pushups are the perfect alternative to people who aren’t at the “regular pushup” level just yet. Furthermore, they are an excellent option when it comes to toning your shoulders, arms, and chest muscles, and is a good cardio exercise for increasing your heart rate.
To perform this cardio exercise, simply stand about two steps away from a wall; with your hands at shoulder height and width apart, do a regular pushup where your chin goes all the way to the wall.
Push back until you are back to the starting position. Do 10 of these to make a set and three sets for the workout session with 30-second breaks in between.
Any one of these upper body workout options and cardio exercises can be done at home with no equipment. You can combine several of them to make a full home workout session.