You Only Need 15 Minutes To Strengthen Your Entire Upper Body

Man performs press-up exercise at home
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / Sarah McEwan)

Finding a good upper-body workout can be hard. After all, there are 24 muscles in the arms alone, not to mention postural muscles in the back and core that are often neglected. Finding a short one, then, is even harder.

Which is why we’re fans of this session from Chris Heria, a personal trainer and founder of the callisthenics programme ThenX. It covers the entire upper body including the chest, triceps, lats, traps, rhomboids, biceps and shoulders, in just 15 minutes. 

It consists of 15 movements, which you perform for 40 seconds each, resting for 20 seconds between each one. No exercise is repeated, so there’s no chance of mid-workout boredom setting in between sets. 

You will need a pair of dumbbells, a dip bar, a pull-up bar and an elevated surface, so it’s one most people will need a gym for. Combine it with a 10-minute HIIT workout for a well-rounded session.

Watch Heria take you through each of the exercises below in this YouTube video.

The use of 40-second work periods rather than a prescribed number of sets and reps is intended to stop you rushing through movements. This is useful because, during hypertrophy workouts, you should prioritise quality over quantity. This will not only help prevent injury by limiting poor form, but also ensure you’re engaging the muscles you’re trying to target for maximum gains.

This workout uses a combination of push and pull movements. Often, bodybuilding programmes will place push and pull workouts on different days, but if you don’t have time to work out multiple times a week, incorporating both styles of movement into one workout allows you to target a wide range of muscles in one sitting. However, if you are training your upper body multiple times a week, take a look at our push/pull workout plan.

If you don’t have access to a gym or dumbbells, try this upper-body workout with no equipment instead.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.