WATCH: 3 exercises to work your upper body
3 min readJun 3, 2020


Photo by Sam Owoyemi — Unsplash

Check out our video tutorials created by the Sussexsport fitness team for tips on how to keep your workouts going at home. Here’s our Duty Manager John with 3 dynamic exercises to work your upper body! If you have dumbbells you can use these to do the exercises at home, or try improvising with tins or cartons!

Perform the three exercises as a mini circuit, one after the other, with minimal rest in between exercises, and 30–60 seconds rest in between sets. Aim for 10–20 reps of each exercise, and start with three sets.

To increase the overall challenge, try to increase the weight, or add another set or two.

1. Arm Circles

This upper body exercise will give your arms a good workout. Use dumbbells, tins or cartons to add resistance.

How to do it:

  • Stand with a slight bend in the legs and plant your feet firmly on the floor
  • Hold tin cans, cartons or weights with straight arms and your palms facing forward
  • Circle your arms from the waist to above your head
  • Slowly lower the weights in the same, controlled manner.

To make this exercise a little more challenging, try to balance on one foot with the other one floating behind you. Brace your core, and remain ‘tall’. Circle arms slowly and under control. You can also try balancing with one leg in front of you and repeat the arm circles in this position.

2. Shoulder Press

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart and brace your core
  • Holding two tin cans (or weights) with your palms facing forward, start with one arm high above you with a straight elbow. The other weight should be resting on your shoulder
  • Lower one weight as you raise the other one. They should cross simultaneously.
  • Repeat for a set number of reps.

To progress, plant one foot down and find your balance; don’t worry if you’re a little wobbly at first! The other foot should be loose behind you. Alternate the shoulder press, keeping hands facing forward. You can also add to this routine by planting one foot down and bringing the other leg in front of you at waist height. Holding your weights, put one arm up and one at shoulder height and lower and raise each weight for a set number of reps.

3. Moving Plank

A variation on the plank, which will work your upper body and engage your core.

How to do it:

  • Lying face-down, prop yourself up on your elbows and onto your knees with your feet floating behind you
  • With your elbows directly under your shoulder, brace your core and place one hand under your shoulder, where your elbow was resting
  • Push yourself up whilst putting the other hand on the floor, again under the shoulder. Once you have fully straight arms with locked out elbows, start to lower yourself to the floor starting with the original leading arm
  • Lower yourself back to your elbows. Remember to limit as much movement from the hips as possible. Next, lead with the opposite arm.

To test yourself a bit more, try doing the moving plank on the front of your feet, rather than your knees. Make sure your feet are wider apart than normal - approximately shoulder width apart to aid stability - and maintain strong core stability throughout. Fancy even more of a challenge? Get in the plank position and put your elbows under your shoulders then, with one foot planted down, try keeping one leg in the air behind you. Hands can be planted slightly wider than shoulder width if you wish to aid stability. Push yourself up leading with one hand, then the other.

Try combining these movements with some of our other home workouts to create your own home circuits!