Is it possible to get a good Upper body HIIT workout using just bodyweight exercises?
There is a temptation to rehash a resistance training workout into HIIT workout. It’s not always a bad idea. Normal strength exercises can get you into an anaerobic training zone pretty quickly.
Upper body HIIT workouts can, unfortunately, start landing in no-man’s-land. when you take the further step and look at bodyweight exercises, it can look ridiculous, a collection of random arm exercises with some lower body exercises thrown in, just to get you breathing hard.
The key is to take a step back. Look at what you are trying to achieve. This is not upper body resistance training, it’s a HIIT workout. So lets look at what we need to achieve.
- First, pushing yourself into an anaerobic training zone into all of your sets.
- Second, making sure that your upper body gets a sustained and complete workout.
- And last, to this with just Upper body HIIT with only bodyweight and no equipment.
So here is a workout that tries to incorporate all three. It’s tough to do and will build your upper body strength, but it will test your fitness level.
It has a lot of movement so fits the profile of High-intensity interval training. If you go all out, you will breathe hard and you will feel your heart rate racing.
Its effective for fat loss and will definitely increase your strength and tone your muscle.
This upper body HIIT workout is equipment free, so you are using your bodyweight for all the exercises.
Upper Body HIIT Exercises
- Setup in a pushup position and then hinge your hips to that they are as high as they can be.
- Your legs, back and arms should be straight and your body should form an upside down V. (You can walk your feet forward from the push up position to get yourself into this position)
- Bend your arms as you slide your face and shoulders towards the floor.
- Pause and press back to the original position. (make sure you stretch back as far as you can go)
- Repeat this motion for the entire interval.
- Lie on the floor, face up. Make sure you have a handhold behind your head that you can hold on to while you pull.
- Push your hands as hard as you can up into the hand hold to bring your torso off the ground
- Don’t use your core to pull your body up. You should be able to pull your body up just by using your lats as you push through the hand hold.
Human pullover (easier version)
- The human pullover exercise is hard to do. The difficulty is modulated by how straight your legs are.
- If you are finding it too difficult to bring your body up, try bending your knees into your chest and then lifting yourself while curled up.
Lateral pylo pushup
- Get into a pushup position with your palms slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Make sure you activate your core as you start your push up
- As you push up, explode off the floor and push yourself to the right, taking your hands off the ground
- Land softly on your hands, and move directly into next push up.
- As you push up, push your body to the left, landing on your hands again.
- Repeat as much reps as you can do in the allotted time.
lateral knee pylo pushup (easier version)
- If the lateral pylo pushup is too difficult, you can use this one change to make it easier.
- Instead of doing this exercise in a pushup position, bend your knees.
- Follow the instructions above with bent knees.
Bodyweight side lateral raise
- Get yourself into a plank position on your forearms
- Keeping your right forearm solidly planted on the ground, roll your body up and around until your shoulders form a straight line with your upper arms down to the ground.
- Move your left arm up and away from the ground
- As you come down, collapse into the ground, then raise yourself, repeating the action, but this time holding steady on your left forearm.
- Get into a squat position with your palms of your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Push your weight onto your arms while kicking your heels out up and against your butt cheeks.
- Land back down on your feet and repeat for as much reps as you can in the HIIT set
power plank ups
- Get into a plank position
- Push on the bottom of your hands and forearms as you raise yourself towards a pushup position
- As you get to the top of the position, push your hands off the floor and land back in a push up position with your hands flat on the floor.
- Immediately push off the floor again and land back into the plank position, using your hands and forearms to cushion the landing
Dive bomber pushup
- Get onto the floor in a pushup position. Push your hips up as far as you can until your body is in an inverted V
- Your back should be flat, your arms should be straight, but your knees should be slightly bent with you up on your toes
- As you lower your hips, let your arms bend as your chest approaches the floor
- Your chest should graze the floor, then push with your hands as you raise yourself into a pushup position.
- Reverse direction, lowering your chest to the floor and then pushing your hips back and up as you straighten your arms
If the Dive bomber pushup is too challenging, you can substitute it with the Inchworm Pushup.
Inchworm pushup (easier version)
- Begin from a standing position.
- Keeping your legs as straight as you can hinge down to place your palms on the ground in front of you.
- Keeping your feet in place, walk your hands out in front of you until you get into a pushup position.
- Do a push up while keeping your core activated.
- Hinge your hips back up and walk your hands back to their starting position
- Stand up straight.
- Repeat this motion until the HIIT timer has finished.
- Lie on the floor, face up
- Bend your elbows and place them on the floor, your hands should form fists off the floor. Your elbows should be the only part of your arm that is touching the floor.
- Push hard through your upper back to get your upper body off the ground.
- Pause at the top and return to the starting position by lowering your upper body back to the floor.
- Make sure your back muscles (Rhomboids, traps and delts) are doing all the work here and you are not using momentum to get through this move.
Mountain climber push ups
- Get yourself into a push up up position with your weight evenly over your hands and toes.
- Keep your hands shoulder width apart with your back straight and your core engaged.
- In the pushup position, pull your knee up to your chest. As you push your leg back, bring your other knee up to your chest.
- As you finish your second leg, quickly bend your elbows and do a press up before bringing your leg up again
Angels and devils
- Lie flat on the ground, face down with your arms out in front of you.
- Contract your glutes and lower back as you lift your arms and legs up off the ground. Try to get your thighs off the ground as well.
- Without touching the floor, move your arms sideways until they are by your sides. Your palms should pivot to be facing your hips by the end of the motion.
- Pause and then reverse the hand motion back to the original start position.
- Repeat this motion with your arms for the entire HIIT interval.
So that is the upper body HIIT workout. It may be a little tough for most to get through and I may just add an easier HIIT upper body workout, perhaps using a dumbbell or a kettlebell. If you are finding this too difficult, rather than dropping the workout, have a look here and substitute the exercises you are struggling with.
Saying that, you won’t find that many bodyweight HIIT workouts as effective as this one.
Use the mp3 and give the workout a go. Let me know how you found it in the comments below.