Upper-body workouts

Learn some exercises to help strengthen your upper body


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Starting an exercise routine may seem overwhelming—but it doesn't have to be. The upper-body workouts below are ones that you can try in the comfort of your home, with little to no equipment.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise routine (such as the ones below). Your doctor can help you find one that’s right for you.

Arm raises

With shoulder blades back and down, take a deep breath and lift arms up, palms facing outward. Hold for a few seconds. Exhale and lower arms to resting position.

Goal: 10-15 reps
Modification: Lift arms as far as you are comfortable
Challenge: Do 5 additional reps

Shoulder blade squeezes

Begin with shoulder blades back and down, engaging core. Inhale while squeezing shoulder blades together. While tight, drop shoulders down and exhale. Hold for 3 breaths and release.

Goal: 10-15 reps
Modification: Do fewer reps
Challenge: Do 5 additional reps


Reach arms forward, palms facing downward. In a rowing motion, bring arms back; squeeze shoulder blades back and down and tuck in elbows (as shown). Inhale while rowing forward, exhale while rowing backward.

Goal: Do 15-20 reps
Modification: Reach as far as you can; do fewer reps
Challenge: Use light weights

Triceps dips

With shoulder blades back and down, place hands on sides of chair. Inhale while pressing palms firmly into chair. Hold for a few seconds. Release and exhale.

Goal: 15-20 reps
Modification: Modify range of motion
Challenge: Slightly lift off chair while pressing palms into chair (as shown)

Bent-over row to triceps kickback

Left hand on arm of a chair, right arm at your side. Bend at waist, keeping back straight. Raise right arm by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Keep upper arm still, lift hand until it is extended straight back.

Goal: 10-15 reps
Modification: Do fewer reps, remembering to maintain good form
Challenge: Incorporate light hand-weights

Overhead triceps extension

Hold a weight in each hand and raise arms over head with palms facing forward. Bend arms at 90-degree angle so hands are behind your head. Raise hands to starting position (as shown). Raise hands to starting position while keeping your elbows steady.

Goal: 10-15 reps
Modification: Perform exercise without weights or hold only one weight
Challenge: Increase weight

Chest and biceps stretch

Stand up straight, shoulders back and down, engage core. Pull arms behind body and clasp hands together (as shown). Stretch arms upwards.

Goal: Hold for 3 breaths
Modification: Reduce range of motion
Challenge: Raise arms farther upward

Shoulder stretch

While standing or sitting on the floor, press shoulders back and down. Bring left arm over chest and place right arm underneath left arm. Gently pull left arm against chest (as shown); hold for 3 breaths. Repeat with right arm.

Goal: Hold for 3 breaths per side
Modification: Reduce range of motion
Challenge: Stretch further by pulling raised arm farther around body

Find more exercises from Above MS expert contributor and personal trainer Carrie P. here!



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