No Excuses: Gym-Free Exercise

Skip the January joiners and gym fees with at-home workouts for the upper body.

Getting fit is one of the top New Year’s resolutions, but judging from the crowds at the gym, most people seem to believe that getting in shape requires joining a gym. But it doesn’t have to.

We know a thing or two about getting fit with minimal equipment and we know how to work with what we’ve got — hills, stairs, benches — to create our own gyms. You can do the same, whether you’re picking up a workout routine as part of your New Year’s resolution, or you’re a year-round gymgoer looking for a way to avoid the January Joiner crowd. To help you get started, we’ve prepared a full-body workout that will get your heart rate up and your muscles toned without costing you a cent. Best part: It can be done anywhere — hotel rooms, dorm rooms, or your tiny apartment living room.

Today’s workout focuses on your upper body, and in our next post, we’ll be giving you a lower body workout. The videos demonstrate each move for proper form.

Upper Body Workout

Before beginning your workout, warm your body up. Jumping Jacks, front kicks, step-ups, touching toes-hips-shoulders-sky, even a light jog. Try to spend no less than five minutes getting loose and warm. Stretching is always a great addition to working out; make sure you’re warmed up before you do so.

The number of reps/sets we’ve listed may be tricky for you to accomplish when you first begin this program. However – if you can follow this plan two to three times per week, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you progress! Alternatively – if the numbers don’t quite challenge you to your maximum level, use the suggested modifications to increase the intensity of each exercise, as well as increasing the number of actual repetitions.


  • 12-15 reps per set.
  • Slow, controlled motion, inhaling as you lower down, exhaling as you lift back up.
  • Keep your head up, and try to maintain a plank-like posture as you complete each rep.

Tricep Dips

  • 12-15 reps per set
  • Slowly lower yourself towards the ground, making sure to point your elbows straight back behind you.
  • As you lift yourself back up, keep the lower back as close to the bench as possible.

Bicep Curls

  • 12-15 reps per set
  • Keep your shoulders back, and make sure elbows remain by your side.
  • Raise your weight almost all the way to your shoulders, and slowly lower all the way back down.
  • All of the movement comes from the elbow to the fist; the upper arm remains stationary by your side.

Back Flys

  • 12-15 reps per set.
  • Bend forward from the hips, maintain a flat back and spine. Bend as far forward as possible, with the goal of being parallel with the floor.
  • Keeping arms perfectly straight and pointed straight towards the ground below you, slowly lift your arms out to the side, feeling your shoulder blades butterfly around your spine.

Cardio – Step-Ups

  • 1, 3, or 5-min. increments
  • Choose a step that suits your fitness level; the more active you are, the higher the step. You can also adjust the intensity by lifting your knee up high as you step up.
  • Mix things up by alternating sides every 10 steps, or every other step.
  • Add arm movement to increase the heart rate and maximize your effort.

When you’ve completed your cardio, repeat the entire set through 3 times.

Stretch, cool down, and have a great day you’ve earned it! And then get ready for next week, when we hit the lower body.