Working your upper body without traditional gym equipment can be challenging. After all, there are only so many pushups you can do in one sitting. Weights are useful for adding resistance, but there also are a number of exercises you can do using your bodyweight or items you have around the house. Put your shoulders, chest, triceps, and back to work in this 20-minute circuit created by Asphalt Green personal trainer Chris Gould.  

What you need: 

  • Chair 
  • Yoga mat 
  • Cans or light dumbbells 


  • Plank: 10 seconds 
  • Bodyweight squats: 30 seconds 
  • Plank: 10 seconds 
  • Bodyweight squats: 30 seconds  
  • Plank: 10 seconds  
  • Repeat twice, then stretch  


Circuit 1  

Modified pushups (on knees): 8-12 repetitions  

  • Align your body from head to toe, arms fully extended, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, head and neck gazing forward in neutral position. Rest your knees on the ground.  
  • Lower your body toward the ground, keeping your elbows close to your body (20 to 45 degrees away).  
  • Once your chest grazes the ground, reverse the movement by applying force to the ground or bench through your hands, extending your elbows until you return to starting position. 

Standing triceps kickbacks with canned goods: 8-12 repetitions 

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold cans in each hand so your palms are facing the ground. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees.  
  • Press your arms back slowly, straightening your elbow.  
  • Return to starting position  

Jumping jacks: 20 seconds  

  • Start with your feet together, hands by your side.  
  • Simultaneously jump your legs out and arms overhead. 

Circuit 1 is complete! Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat (two rounds total).  


Circuit 2 

Squat-curl-press with cans: 10-12 repetitions  

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold cans or dumbbells, if you have them available, in each hand.  
  • Putting the weight in your heels, squat back like you are sitting in a chair. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and your knees should not go past your toes.  
  • As you straighten your legs, curl your weights to your shoulders.  
  • Rotate your palms so they are facing away from you, then press the weight overhead.  
  • Return your arms to starting position to complete one repetition.  

Chair dips: 10-12 repetitions 

  • Place your hands at the edge of a sturdy chair, facing away from the chair. Your feet should be straight out in front of you. If you need to modify, bend your legs.   
  • Bend your arms to a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position.   

Circuit 2 is complete. Rest for one minute. Repeat (two rounds total).  


Circuit 3  

Bent-over row with canned good: 12-15 repetitions  

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding cans or dumbbells in both hands. Hinge at the hips so your torso is parallel with the floor.  
  • Slowly bring your arms toward your hips, squeezing your back muscles like there is a pea between your shoulder blades.  
  • Return to starting position.  

Side Lateral Raises: 8-10 repetitions  

  • Start with feet shoulder-width apart holding cans or dumbbells in both hands.  
  • Lift your arms to the side so your body forms a T. Stop lifting when your arms reach shoulder height.  
  • Return to starting position  

Circuit 3 is complete. Recover for one minute. Repeat (two rounds total).  


BONUS: Cardio Burnout (optional) 

  • Boxing with cans: 20 seconds 
  • Run in place: 20 seconds 

Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat (two rounds total).  


You did it! Stretch to cool down.