Bodyweight-Only Upper Body and Core Workout

upper body and core

I’m all about full-body workouts. That doesn’t mean that other types of workouts — like this upper body and core workout — don’t have merit, though.

I advocate full-body workouts because they work better for busy people who can’t get to the gym or workout every day.

Think about it. If you only can commit to three workouts per week, doesn’t it make sense to train all your major muscle groups on those three days rather than beating the crap out of your legs one day and then not touching them again for the rest of the week?

What if you do have the time to workout multiple times per week, though? If you’re able to workout four or more times per week, you might be able to benefit from splitting things up and working on your lower body some days and your upper body other days.

If you’re in this camp, this bodyweight-only upper body and core workout is a great option to try on your upper body days.

The Warm-up

Start with some exercises to get your blood flowing and warm up your upper body. I recommend doing these three:


This yoga pose is also a great warm-up for your spine and shoulders. Start by kneeling on all fours. Make sure your wrists are below your shoulders and your knees are below your hips.

As you inhale, raise your head so you’re looking up to the ceiling and drop your belly down toward the floor. When you exhale, reverse the movement so you’re looking down at the floor and your spine is arching up toward the ceiling.

Plank to Downward Facing Dog

I talk about these a lot, but I really do love them for opening up the shoulders and stretching out the spine.

Make sure you start in a plank position with your wrists and shoulders aligned.

Don’t move your feet or hands when you shift back to the downward facing dog, but feel free to bend your knees as much as you need.

Wrist Rolls

There are some push-up variations in this workout, which can be hard on your wrists. Do some wrist rolls before getting started to shake them out, especially after doing those plank to downward facing dogs.

The Workout

Okay, now it’s time to get into the workout. Perform these exercises as a circuit, meaning go from one exercise to the next without any rest in between. Once you’ve done each exercise, rest for about one minute, then repeat the circuit three more times.

Inchworm Push-ups

This is an awesome full-body exercise, but it really targets your core, chest, back, and arms. Start standing up straight. Then, slowly walk your hands out until you’re in a plank position. Perform a push-up (check out this post for some tips to make sure you’re doing it properly), the walk yourself back in.

Pike Push-ups

This second push-up variation places more of an emphasis on your shoulders. Make sure you’re continuing to send your elbows back behind you when doing these push-ups (don’t let them splay out to the sides). Keep your core pulled in, too, and feel free to bend your knees if needed.

Superman/woman with Pull-Down

This exercise targets your back muscles (did you know that your back muscles are part of your core?).

Start in a prone position (face down) with your arms up above your head. As you inhale, squeeze your glutes and raise your feet, head, and arms off the floor.

Exhale and pull your arms down on either side of your face. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold this position for a second before releasing.

Hollow Hold

This last exercise targets your abs and is a great little core burner to finish off the circuit. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and make sure your lower back is pressing into the floor. Keep breathing throughout the entire hold.

Upper Body and Core Workout Video

If you need help understanding any of these upper body and core exercises, here’s a video demonstrating each one.

If you try this workout, let me know! I’d love to hear how it goes! Comment below and let me know whether you prefer full-body workouts or an upper/lower split!

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