6 Upper Body Exercises To Do At Home

6 upper body exercises

Doing upper body exercises for improved mobility and strength can provide a break from prolonged seated desk work. Try this group of 6 upper body exercises using your arms as your resistance and eventually progress the exercises by using cans of soup as 1 pound weights.

Scapular Retraction with External Rotation 

Stand with back against a wall (progression: holding a theraband or a pair of small weights in your hands) palms facing up. Keep your elbows pulled in at your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades back and together, allowing your arms to rotate out to the side. Repeat 10 times.      

Shoulder Flexion

Raise one arm at a time. 

Begin in a standing position with arms by your side. Slowly bring one arm forward to shoulder height. Hold at the top and then slowly lower arm back to starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch to the other arm for 10 repetitions.     

Shoulder Abduction  

Raise one arm at a time.

Begin in a standing position with your arms by your side. Slowly bring one arm out to the side with your thumb pointing upward. Bring your arm to shoulder height, pause, then slowly lower back down to starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch to the other arm for 10 repetitions. 

Prone Ts (middle trap arm raise exercise)

Raise one arm at a time.

Lie on your stomach with a pillow under the chest and stomach and a towel roll under the forehead. Start with arms resting out to the side. Try to pull your shoulder blade towards your spine (without shrugging), and slowly lift your arm out to the side in a “T” position with your thumb up.  Repeat 10 times then switch to the other arm for 10 repetitions.   

Prone Ys (lower trap arm raise exercise)

Raise one arm at a time

Lie on your stomach with a pillow under the chest and stomach and a towel roll under the forehead. Start with arms resting out to the side. Try to pull your shoulder blade towards your spine (without shrugging), and slowly lift your arm out to the side in a “Y” position with your thumb up.  Repeat 10 times then switch to the other arm for 10 repetitions.

As with any exercise, you might experience fatigue or tiredness of the arm(s). This feeling should go away once you have completed your set of 10 repetitions. If you experience pain in the shoulder, stop the exercise and do not continue the exercise until you have consulted a physical therapist.

6 Lower Body Exercises To Do At Home

6 Lower Body Exercises to do at Home

Regular exercise is one of the hallmarks of a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes real life gets in the way and we are not able to make it to the gym. Don’t let a lack of access to gym equipment stop you from staying in shape! Here are a few easy exercises to do at home.


Many gym workouts incorporate squats in some form, so why not do them at home too? There are many variations of this exercise to help increase the level of difficulty, but getting the basic squat form down first is imperative. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and squat down until your knees reach a 90 degree angle. Make sure to “sit back” into the squat so that your knees do not move forward past your toes — like you are sitting into a chair. In fact, performing this exercise in front of a chair can help you perfect your form. Slowly sit back toward the chair, then, just before your bottom reaches the chair surface, push back up to return to standing.

When you master the basic squat and need a greater challenge, you can get creative. Perform squats on just a single leg, add weight with dumbbells (but not too much!), or use a softer surface, like a foam pad or BOSU ball, to make the exercise more difficult.


Similar to squats, lunges are a versatile exercise that hit a number of muscle groups in the legs. Standing with both feet together, step forward and bend the front knee to 90 degrees, then push back to standing. Once again, make sure to keep your knee from moving past your toes. This same exercise can also be performed by stepping out to the side or backward, then bending the knees into a lunge. Another way to progress: if you are on a hard floor, put a sock or towel underneath one foot, then use that foot to slide backward or sideways while bending the opposite knee into a lunge. Just make sure your stance foot is nice and solid!

Single leg RDL (Romanian deadlift)

Deadlifts are a great exercise for strengthening your hamstrings, hips, core, and lower back. They also don’t require any weights! My favorite way to do them is on one leg. Make sure you have plenty of room around you first, though (especially behind you!). Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent, then hinge forward at your hip, keeping your lower back and opposite leg straight. Allow your arms to hang downward until you reach your knee or shin (or, if you prefer, a small step or coffee table in front of you), then squeeze your hamstrings and glutes and return to standing. This can be a hard exercise to master, so remember to activate your core and keep from rounding your lower back.

Calf raises

Calf raises are another easy exercise to do at home, and are great for individuals who like to incorporate running or other cardio into their normal exercise routine. Stand near a wall or table (so you can reach out to keep your balance) then push up onto your toes. Hold for a beat, then return to the ground. If you want an additional challenge, perform the exercise on one leg. Doing the exercise with your heels hanging off a small step can also make it more challenging.


Bridges are another great way to strengthen your glutes and hips, and can also be performed in a number of different ways. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Squeeze your glutes, and lift (or “bridge”) your hips off the ground, then hold for a few seconds before returning to your starting position. You can progress the exercise any way you see fit, but some easy progressions include holding the bridge for longer or using one leg while the other is lifted into the air (make sure your hips stay level!).

Side Lying Hip Abduction

The lateral hips are a very common area of weakness for most people, and side lying hip abduction (or side leg lifts) is an exercise we physical therapists prescribe regularly. Lie on your side with your bottom knee bent for balance. Keep the top knee straight and make sure your leg is in line with your torso — you should not be able to see your foot unless you look down. Keep your hips stacked on top of one another and your toes pointed horizontally (i.e. don’t rotate your foot upward), and lift your top leg up a few inches. Hold for a beat, then return to your starting position and repeat. This exercise should fatigue your lateral hip; if you feel the burn closer to the front of your hip, you likely need to move your top leg further backward.

Get To Know Your PT: Marylyn Presutti, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC

Therapydia DC Physical TherapistMarylyn Presutti, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC

Therapydia DC physical therapist Marylyn Presutti, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC takes some time to share a bit about herself, what first got her interested in physical therapy as a profession, her favorite Saturday routine and her plans for future education.

Find an activity that you really enjoy doing and you will never dread doing it.

When did you know that you wanted to be a physical therapist?

I grew up knowing that I wanted to do something with sports (I thought I was going to be the orthopedic surgeon for the Chicago Cubs), but when I was a senior in high school I fractured my L5 vertebrae (a spondylolisthesis). I was sent to physical therapy in an attempt to avoid surgery. The entire experience made me realize how effective exercise as medicine is, and it shifted my focus to physical therapy as a career.

What’s your favorite song to get you motivated?

‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen. It can amp me up to do just about anything.

What is the biggest challenge involved in being a PT?

The non-patient care tasks. A lot of times the stress of paperwork and insurance concerns and visit limits can become exhausting to deal with. Often times this leads to a lot of additional work, and it can be a real bummer

How do you like to stay active?

I enjoy everything from going on walks with my dog to boxing to pilates and everything in between. I recently found out that you get an amazing workout from doing demolition and renovations to your house (hello new bathroom).

What surprised you the most about the physical therapist profession?

I am always surprised by how few people know that physical therapy is a treatment option and that we are highly trained healthcare care providers.

Are you currently pursuing any further education/certifications?

Not currently, but earlier in 2019 I passed the boards to become an Orthopedic Certified Specialist. I hope that my next challenge will either be a pilates certification or concussion management

What’s your go-to breakfast?

Coffee and a granola bar or overnight oats

What do you wish everyone knew about physical therapy?

I wish more people knew that physical therapists can see patients through Direct Access, meaning they do not need to see a physician before coming to physical therapy. We can serve as a first point of contact for your aches and pains, and we are trained in differential diagnosis, so if we see something that does not appear musculoskeletal in nature, we can refer to another provider as needed.

What is the most important personality trait that a therapist must have?

I think physical therapists need to be curious people. We have to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of critical thinking to assist patients, and there is a high level of curiosity that has to occur to obtain a solution.

What do you do to de-stress/unwind?

Getting outside, going to the gym, or, more recently, trying to learn how to cross stitch.

Finish this sentence: On Saturday mornings, you can usually find me…

Walking with my husband and dog to a coffee shop. We have this tradition of getting ‘fancy coffee’ once a week, and our Saturday morning routine is one of my favorite things.

What is your favorite piece of wellness advice to offer?

Exercise should not feel like a punishment, so if find an activity that you really enjoy doing, you will never dread doing it.

Learn more about Marylyn and the other Therapydia DC physical therapists.

Blog: We’re Open!

Therapydia DC is excited to join the Therapydia network! We will opened our doors on July 24 at 818 18th Street NW, downtown at Farragut West Metro. Therapydia is a national network of Physical Therapy clinics that emphasize ongoing wellness programs like Yoga, Pilates, and TRX. We strive to create an environment that is conducive to wellness with clinics that are well-appointed, well-equipped and well-staffed.

Led by expert Clinic Director, Tim Vidale, Therapydia DC offers a range of physical therapy and personal wellness services. Therapydia picks top physical therapists in each city through a selctive screening process. We look for PTs who have extensive clinic experience, studied at top schools and who continually expand their knowledge base through evidence based continuing education. Our PTs have unparallelled experience in specialized areas of treatment and are highly trained in cutting-edge wellness practices.

Most importantly, Therapydia clinics use state of the art technology to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. Our clinics take patient satisfaction very seriously, in fact, Therapydia clinics have an average national satisfaction score of 9.6. With our proprietary patient relationship management software, ReferralJETSM, we are able to track satisfaction and assure we are providing the best quality of care possible.

Want to learn more or schedule an appointment? We’d love to hear from you! Send us a message and we will be in touch shortly.