5 Best Bodyweight Arm Exercises For Female Athletes

Many female athletes neglect training their upper bodies. Build strength with the 5 best "no excuses" bodyweight arm exercises.

Balanced training is a key to any type of training plan. However, since most sports are leg-dominated, female athletes tend to overwork their legs and neglect training their upper bodies. This is a poor approach, because to perform essential sports movement, all parts of your body needs to work together. (Check out Prevent Muscle Asymmetry with Balanced Training.) Think about it: the faster your arms move, the faster you will run; more arm strength equals longer and higher jumps; and the ability to quickly change direction requires controlling your speed and core with the use of your arms.

If you want better performance, start adding upper-body strength training to your program. Performing these five moves each week, two or three times until failure, will help you achieve a more balanced training plan for improvement and confidence where it counts.

All of these moves are bodyweight exercises, so there is no excuse for avoiding them, even if you lack access to a gym or weight room.

Best Bodyweight Arm Exercises


This well-known upper-body strengthener is not just for the military.

  • Start in top push-up position
  • Keep butt down, shoulders over wrists
  • Lower so chest (not face) comes down between hands
  • Face should be out front, slightly looking up

Pike Push-Ups

The most effective exercise without dumbbells is the Pike Push-Up.

  • Assume "downward dog" position, with feet shoulder-width apart, hands about two feet in front of feet and butt in the sky
  • Bend at elbows and lower  so top of head comes down toward ground between hands
  • Push through shoulders to return to start


This killer back move can be done under bleachers or on a bar.

  • Grab a bar (or bleacher) and walk your feet under it until arms are extended and bar is over chest
  • Pull yourself up until chest is even with bar
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together
  • Slowly lower and repeat

Hell Raisers

With a name like that, you know they mean business. Hell raisers (a.k.a. "Up-Downs") efficiently work everything from the chest to the shoulders to the triceps.

  • Start in top push-up position
  • Lower down into classic plank position with forearms on ground
  • Press back up to start, putting hands back where elbows were (i.e., directly under  shoulders)
  • Straighten arms one at a time to push up to start.

Tricep Dips

A classic move that doesn't get the attention it deserves.

  • Sit on a bleacher or chair and slide off the front
  • Place hands on edges of chair
  • Bend at elbows to lower butt towards ground until elbows form close to 90-degree angle
  • Push through palms of hands to return to start

Photo: oliciouslife.com