Bikemata workout work-around
June 6, 2008 4:08 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know any good upper-body exercises that don't require the use of my hands?

So here's the situation: I took a bad spill off my bike last night that left my palms pretty shredded. I'm thinking it'll be a week at the least before they heal enough to make my hands useful again. Obviously, I can still type and function well enough, but heavier tasks are mighty painful at the moment.

Thing is, I've made strenuous upper body workouts a part of my regular schedule, and now I find myself unable to do most of my routine. With my palms out of commission, the dumbells/resistance band/push-ups & pull-ups stuff I do all hurts too much to keep doing for now. But I go pretty batshit if I don't get my workouts, and I don't want to lose any of my progress while I'm waiting for my hand skin to return.

So what I'm wondering what I ought to replace my usual routine with in the meantime. How can I work my arms, chest and upper body in general without having to grip or press my hands against anything? Is such a thing even possible? I've never heard of hands-free strength training, but then, I'm certainly no expert. Any and all advice shall be appreciated; specific exercises and routines shall be most celebrated.

Thank you!
posted by EatTheWeek to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Strap things to your wrists? (This might be a really bad idea.)
posted by box at 4:14 PM on June 6, 2008

Can't you do some butterfly presses on machines where they use your forearms instead of things you grip with your palms?
posted by Madamina at 4:15 PM on June 6, 2008

Best answer: plank holds are core exercises but don't underestimate what that does for you. gains in balance and core strength will have direct effects on your upper body exercises when you can resume them. consider doing three plank holds for one minute each every other day. together with crunches (3 sets of 12 crunches) and -once you're good to resume- pushups you'll maintain crucial upper body form.
posted by krautland at 4:27 PM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

posted by P.o.B. at 4:28 PM on June 6, 2008

Somewhat related
posted by grouse at 4:30 PM on June 6, 2008

For chest, you can do machine flyes on a machine like this, but not one like this.

Here's a good relevant article.
posted by charlesv at 4:37 PM on June 6, 2008

I'm assuming you have access to a gym.

Depending on the design of the "Pec Deck" machine, you can use it without using your hands.

My mother has a problem with her shoulders and wanted to strengthen her back, so she was recommended "Hyperextensions" to work her lower back. Maybe there's some variant that works the upper back...?
posted by krisjohn at 4:39 PM on June 6, 2008

Does abs count as upper body?
There are several abdominal "machines" where you suspend yourself by either your forearms or upper arms on a tower. I think it is called the "knee raise."

Here's a link to one that looks fun:

P.S. wear gloves next time ;)
posted by markhu at 4:42 PM on June 6, 2008

GET OUT OF MY HEAD! I fell off my bike 4 hours ago and screwed up my palms the same week I've decided to make a serious effort to get back to lifting. I'll be watching this thread with great interest.

This is not a great alternative, but I've seen that some gyms have wrist straps that can be attached to cable pulley machines. If you have access to one of those you might be able to do some tricep and shoulder work.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:52 PM on June 6, 2008

Best answer: If it's just your palms that are shredded, you may still be able to do pushups on your knuckles.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 6:01 PM on June 6, 2008

Dude, you aren't going to seriously regress in a week, or even two. Let your hands heal and don't stress about it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:08 PM on June 6, 2008

Could you close your palms and do pushups on your knuckles? Again, if you make a fist, you could hit a heavy bag?

Also, could you do some sandbag lifting? A lot of the lifts require to take a bear-hug grip on the bag, so this might be pushing it, but man...upper body exercises with no palms involved is tough.

What about running or swimming in the meantime?
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 6:14 PM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers thus far, my friends. I should have included in my question that I don't have gym access - part of the reason this routine's been working for me is that I can do it at home, with no one else around.

Great suggestions so far. Plank is especially intriguing.
posted by EatTheWeek at 6:16 PM on June 6, 2008

Best answer: I love back extensions because they really work the deeper muscles of your back, and you're expressly not supposed to have any weight on your hands when you do them.
posted by deeparch at 7:08 PM on June 6, 2008

Try standing on your neck and shoulders, first with help from elbows and then raising your arms up and moving your legs. (Like the first picture here, but more on your neck, less on your head) Anything that moves your point of balance needs then to be compensated with neck muscles, shoulders or other upper-body parts and with little practice you can find some repeatable, but difficult enough movements.
posted by Free word order! at 7:58 PM on June 6, 2008

Best answer: Definitely swimming. If you're not much of a swimmer, here's the chance to learn.

(in fact, I just started a new thing where I swim with my fists balled. Once you get the hang of it, you open you hands back out to regular paddles for a lap and OH MY GOD it's fast.)
posted by notsnot at 8:25 PM on June 6, 2008

You could play around with elbow stands.
posted by Durin's Bane at 6:32 AM on June 7, 2008

You could try a resistance band and tie it around your wrists over a small towel to do the exercises.
posted by snoogles at 9:21 AM on June 7, 2008

definitely forearm stands (called elbow stands above). do it with your feet on the wall if you don't want to try to balance. see how many minutes can you hold one for.

also try plank pushups. start on your forearms as shown in that video. lower your shoulders to meet your hands (and your nose to the floor), then back up.

if you have a pull-up bar at home, depending on your current strength you could try "no-handed" chin-ups. you can also play with elbow hangs -- see how long you can hold it for on each side.
posted by nevers at 2:43 PM on June 7, 2008

Best answer: You can do doorway-elbow exercises.

Stand in a doorway, leaning with your arms over your head and elbows out against the wall on each side, holding you up. Now step backwards so you are at an angle against the wall with your elbows holdging you up. Now do 'pushups' by moving your elbows forward and back. The more you step backwards, the bigger the angle and the more work.

You can do the same thing using the opposite muscles with your back to the doorway.

Do you have a laundry backet? Fill it with books and lift it up with your arms on each side. You can also do squats while holding this. Did you ever watch Kung Fu with David Carradine where he had to lift this urn filled with hot coals with his arms to get out of the door. Kind of like that but without the resulting dragon scars.
posted by eye of newt at 12:30 PM on June 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all the suggestions, everyone! I've cobbled together a decent hands-free routine from the lot. I really appreciate your contributions.
posted by EatTheWeek at 6:24 PM on June 10, 2008

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