Weak arms/upper body

So basically, even at my fittest I've always had "noodles for arms" so to speak

I've been trying to exercise at home (I don't really have money to spend on gyms and I've always felt a bit intimidated by them), and while my lower body feels noticeably stronger after 3-4 months I feel like there's literally zero progress on anything above my waist
Now, I *am* overweight - but not massively so (BMI 25.4, going by my weight this morning) so I feel like I shouldn't be struggling so much, after several months, just with things like modified pushups

Is there anything you would suggest I could do? I tried googling it (stuff one can do at home) and a lot of articles & lists said to try variations of pushups but I'm not seeing any progress - and there's usually a bunch of stuff I couldn't even dream of doing (pullups? not exaggerating - I haven't been able to do a single one my entire life, even as an active child)

I do have some adjustable dumbbells I could potentially use, they're up to 2x10kg - but I've so far mainly used them to make squats and lunges a little bit harder

«1

Replies

  • DancingMoosie
    DancingMoosie Posts: 8,613 Member
    I did 30 day shred and Ripped in 30 when I first started. I think my arms got stronger doing those workouts, plus some extra pushups. I started with 3 lbs and slowly worked up to 7lb dumbbells, but used lighter on certain exercises.
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    I've done those in the past too but unfortunately by the end of the 30 days (which ended up being extended to more like 40 days because both level 2 and level 3 of 30 day shred kicked my behind, hah) I did notice I had a bit more endurance and an easier time doing squats, lunges, planks... but my arms still felt just as weak
    I believe I was doing it with 2kg weights at the time
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,464 Member
    I have noodle arms too. I’m betting during the forty day shred your arms became relatively stronger.

    I suggest you do a test routine of twelve reps daily slowly increasing the weight. Tracking the increased weights will be your proof that your upper body is getting stronger.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,013 Member
    I have been doing Chalean Extreme on and off for years. I always could consistently move up in weights for my lower body and back, but barely made any progress on my arms and shoulders. No exaggeration it took a couple of years before I finally started to be able to tweak up my weight for them a little, but they still lag behind, progress wise.

    Hopefully others with more experience will chime in, but I wanted to say - you're not alone, and just keep plugging away!
  • californiagirl2012
    californiagirl2012 Posts: 2,625 Member
    So basically, even at my fittest I've always had "noodles for arms" so to speak

    I've been trying to exercise at home (I don't really have money to spend on gyms and I've always felt a bit intimidated by them), and while my lower body feels noticeably stronger after 3-4 months I feel like there's literally zero progress on anything above my waist
    Now, I *am* overweight - but not massively so (BMI 25.4, going by my weight this morning) so I feel like I shouldn't be struggling so much, after several months, just with things like modified pushups

    Is there anything you would suggest I could do? I tried googling it (stuff one can do at home) and a lot of articles & lists said to try variations of pushups but I'm not seeing any progress - and there's usually a bunch of stuff I couldn't even dream of doing (pullups? not exaggerating - I haven't been able to do a single one my entire life, even as an active child)

    I do have some adjustable dumbbells I could potentially use, they're up to 2x10kg - but I've so far mainly used them to make squats and lunges a little bit harder

    You just need to lift heavier sometimes, you need to vary it though as you can't lift heavy all the time. What you are doing is great, but you need to add in some heavier weights and do some routines that include some supersets, drop sets, pyramids, tempo, and other strength building (hypertrophy) routines. You need to do some lower rep high / higher weight, but mixed in with a well designed routine. You can search the internet on all these terms and find free workouts, as well as very nice workouts for purchase. I think all are good to have in your "tool chest". Sometimes people try to do more pushups, or more pullups, but if they focused on more strength based lifting (not so much cardio style lifting) then the pushups and pullups will simply "happen" because the strength is there. Also body fat plays a roll if it's too high because even if you are strong it creates a burden and it's like adding weight for you to pushup or pullup because it's on your body, basically it holds you back. Lifting heavy - you should NEED the minute or so of rest in between sets. You push really hard to get out those last 2-3 reps, all effort, yet able to keep good form, thus need the rest and can't wait to put down the weights - those 2-3 reps, as short as they are, that's where all the magic happens. Good luck!!!
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,728 Member
    I've done those in the past too but unfortunately by the end of the 30 days (which ended up being extended to more like 40 days because both level 2 and level 3 of 30 day shred kicked my behind, hah) I did notice I had a bit more endurance and an easier time doing squats, lunges, planks... but my arms still felt just as weak
    I believe I was doing it with 2kg weights at the time

    Dump the sissy weights and get some 8 kilo or 10 kilo. Start doing floor presses in sets of 8-12x3 or 4. When you get to 12, bump up the weight and drop the reps. Keep doing the knee pushups in sets of 10-15 every minute for 5 or 6 minutes. When you get to 20 or 25 kilo weights on the floor presses, you should be ready to try full pushups.

    You're never going to get anywhere with 2 kilo weights.
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    I've done those in the past too but unfortunately by the end of the 30 days (which ended up being extended to more like 40 days because both level 2 and level 3 of 30 day shred kicked my behind, hah) I did notice I had a bit more endurance and an easier time doing squats, lunges, planks... but my arms still felt just as weak
    I believe I was doing it with 2kg weights at the time

    Dump the sissy weights and get some 8 kilo or 10 kilo. Start doing floor presses in sets of 8-12x3 or 4. When you get to 12, bump up the weight and drop the reps. Keep doing the knee pushups in sets of 10-15 every minute for 5 or 6 minutes. When you get to 20 or 25 kilo weights on the floor presses, you should be ready to try full pushups.

    You're never going to get anywhere with 2 kilo weights.

    yeah, that was the main reason why I ended up getting the adjustable 10kg ones a couple of years ago - for a LOT of stuff 2kg felt like I might as well just be moving my arms on their own
  • leomewz
    leomewz Posts: 1 Member
    Hello there glad u decided to join the fitness way now let me tell you that if you try bw exercises 3-4 times per week -50min resting 1 min each set starting from 1 rep or progressions will get u very quick results with minimum risks i dont rec weight training for newbies at home high risk of injuries and ego lifting start small and simple and you will have amazing results just push yourself
  • julie_broadhead
    julie_broadhead Posts: 347 Member
    I've done those in the past too but unfortunately by the end of the 30 days (which ended up being extended to more like 40 days because both level 2 and level 3 of 30 day shred kicked my behind, hah) I did notice I had a bit more endurance and an easier time doing squats, lunges, planks... but my arms still felt just as weak
    I believe I was doing it with 2kg weights at the time

    Dump the sissy weights and get some 8 kilo or 10 kilo. Start doing floor presses in sets of 8-12x3 or 4. When you get to 12, bump up the weight and drop the reps. Keep doing the knee pushups in sets of 10-15 every minute for 5 or 6 minutes. When you get to 20 or 25 kilo weights on the floor presses, you should be ready to try full pushups.

    You're never going to get anywhere with 2 kilo weights.
    He gave you some excellent advice here. I'm going to suggest , instead of doing knee push ups, try elevated push ups. Start with the wall if you can get to 15, progress to a counter top then just keep lowering your hand s till they are on the floor:-) It takes time, but you will get there!
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,728 Member
    I've done those in the past too but unfortunately by the end of the 30 days (which ended up being extended to more like 40 days because both level 2 and level 3 of 30 day shred kicked my behind, hah) I did notice I had a bit more endurance and an easier time doing squats, lunges, planks... but my arms still felt just as weak
    I believe I was doing it with 2kg weights at the time

    Dump the sissy weights and get some 8 kilo or 10 kilo. Start doing floor presses in sets of 8-12x3 or 4. When you get to 12, bump up the weight and drop the reps. Keep doing the knee pushups in sets of 10-15 every minute for 5 or 6 minutes. When you get to 20 or 25 kilo weights on the floor presses, you should be ready to try full pushups.

    You're never going to get anywhere with 2 kilo weights.
    He gave you some excellent advice here. I'm going to suggest , instead of doing knee push ups, try elevated push ups. Start with the wall if you can get to 15, progress to a counter top then just keep lowering your hand s till they are on the floor:-) It takes time, but you will get there!

    That's a good point, It's really hard to do correct Knee pushups.

    And I had intended to include my usual how to. I'll skip the long plank version.

    From the floor, laying flat with your hands under your shoulders and your elbows to your sides.

    tense your body as you would for a plank, keeping your glutes and abs tight.

    Press up(and back) a correct pushup has a minor front to back motion.

    press your toes and knees to the ground and maintain a plank from shoulders to knees(no bridging or bending or bowing) Someone unable to see the floor should not be able to tell whether you're doing a knee or a regular pushup. You may need to subtly thrust forward with your hips to maintain the plank.

    At the top evaluate the plank mentally. Then slowly lower back down.

    Do sets of 1. with 3-10 seconds rest.

    Occasionally allow your whole body to rise from the toes instead of the knees. when you hit a sticky spot, grind for a second before dropping your knees to finish the press.
  • plythacur
    plythacur Posts: 32 Member
    I sometimes do a modified version of the P90X chest and back workout with bands instead of actual pull-ups because I don’t have the strength for those yet. You alternate between different types of pushups and mimic pull-ups with exercise bands anchored in a door. Given the high reps and variety of push/pull exercises, you will get a pretty solid upper body workout that doesn’t require heavy weights or a gym. If you don’t have the strength for pushups on you toes, you can go to your knees, or use an elevated surface like someone suggest above, but you will need to do a variety of exercises and really fatigue your muscles to see strength gains. For band pull-ups I do wide grip, close grip over hand, and reverse grip pull-ups. For pushups I do regular, military (with hands directly under shoulders and elbows tucked tight to my sides), wide, elevated (legs on a chair), and diamond (thumb and forefinger on each hand make a diamond, legs wide, lower your chest to your hands). Alternate between push and pull for 20-24 sets, doing as many reps as you can for each set.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
    Keep in mind that your arm muscles are much smaller than you legs muscles so they'll always be much weaker. Because they're smaller, they're also much slower to show noticeable changes.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 31,975 Member
    lorrpb wrote: »
    Keep in mind that your arm muscles are much smaller than you legs muscles so they'll always be much weaker. Because they're smaller, they're also much slower to show noticeable changes.

    That's a good point, for anyone doing exercises with only one pair of fixed weight dumbbells, or even bodyweight. A weight that challenges your upper body is likely to be trivial for lower body; bodyweight squats can be easy while bodyweight pushups are still hard.

    OP, have you looked into this thread at all:

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10332083/which-lifting-program-is-the-best-for-you

    Following a well-designed program (that's aimed at your goals) is always your best bet for progress. The thread includes bodyweight programs.

    P.S. I'm not sure I agree that arms are slow to literally show changes, but maybe that's because I personally tend to lose upper body fat while still holding onto lower body fat, so arm musculature is relatively more visible. YMMV.
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    it's not *great* progress but I'm starting to feel a little bit stronger, at least - as in, I've had more luck with stuff like pushups lately.. *am* contemplating getting heavier weights, if nothing else for my legs rs868bz6x3hk.jpg
  • andreascjonsson
    andreascjonsson Posts: 433 Member
    you are your own gym is great for bodyweight exercises. I have also really been enjoying and getting progress from Rushfite with george saint pierre and UFC Fit with Mike Dolce
  • concordancia
    concordancia Posts: 5,320 Member
    I started by doing push ups against a wall, then a counter top... I just moved to the back of a bench, then I will use the bench itself...

    I also practice yoga which has poses that challenge my upper body. I can hold downward facing dog much longer now than I could a month ago.
  • tlpina82
    tlpina82 Posts: 229 Member
    The problem with calisthenics only is that after a while, especially with you losing weight, it becomes harder to challenge the muscles. If you absolutely cannot afford the gym, then you need to variate your exercise and you absolutely must PUSH and PULL.
    Since you can't increase the weight, increase the volume.

    Start going for "Max you can".

    Pushups - Max you can everyday and everyday you must increase.
    Incline Pushups - Put your feet on a chair, pushup until your arms go mush, increase everyday
    Shoulder Pushups - Feet on the wall, until you're almost upside down. push up and down until you can't do it anymore.
    Pull ups - Same recipe. Go until your arms can't take it.
    Reverse push up - the pull up bar must be lower, feet on a chair. Pull up like you're doing a push up in reverse.

    Do lots of sit ups and ab crunches, and when I say lots, I mean 3000+ daily.

    When you feel like the exercise is not giving you the pump anymore, change the order. start with another one.

    When you're used to it again, try Natural Occlusion. Hold the first movement of your exercise at 90 degrees until you 'feel the burn', then continue to exercise the muscle group without rest.
    That drives the blood and oxygen out of your muscles my compression. Your muscles are forced to work depleted of fuel.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,097 Member
    If you want results...

    1. Follow a structured program that overloads and progresively increases the volume over time at the correct intensity.
    2. Eat enough protien and leucine for your body's needs.
    3. Either join a gym or purchase the equipment you need to do your program.
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    Apart from what I already own - what would you say would be "must have" equipment, at home?

    Working out at a gym gives me a lot of anxiety, unfortunately. PE at school while obese and being both teased (by both my peers and some of the teachers) and graded for it - and almost losing my scholarship because my grade average suffered so much from my inability to run and play volleyball at anything above a middle/average grade level - has basically ruined exercising near other people for me for life...
    I don't have a stable income atm so I'd find it easier to do a 1 time purchase of a piece of equipment versus monthly gym membership + transport