Kavadlo Brothers’ Calisthenics Arms Workout

by Al Kavadlo and Danny Kavadlo on April 11, 2017

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Al and Danny Kavadlo Calisthenics Arms Workout
Fans of progressive calisthenics know that you don’t need weights to pump up your arms. With nothing more than your own bodyweight and a few bars, you can blast your guns without any external resistance.

Though you won’t find any dumbbell curls or triceps push-downs in this workout, the following exercises will blow up your biceps and triceps, and help you carve out cannonball delts. In addition to your arms, this simple sequence will actually hit your entire upper body – even your abs. When you perform exercises that employ compound movements, it’s easy to target multiple muscle groups at once.

If you are unable to complete this workout as written, you may add additional sets in order to complete the same total number of reps. For example, when the workout calls for 3 sets of 10 reps, you can modify it by doing 6 sets of 5 reps (or 10 sets of 3 reps) in order to make the workout more manageable. You may also substitute a different variation of an exercise if you need to, such as pike push-ups instead of handstand push-ups.

Aim to perform the exercises in sequence with approximately 60-90 seconds of rest in between each set, though you may also try performing this workout as a circuit, if you are looking to enhance its cardiovascular benefits.

Close Push-up
Start in a push-up position, only with your hands closer together. Bend your arms and lower your chest toward the floor, keeping your elbows fairly close to your sides. Pause briefly with your chest approximately one inch from the ground, then press yourself back to the top. The close position of the hands places additional emphasis on the triceps.

3 x 20 reps

Hang from a bar with an underhand grip, then pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Avoid shrugging your shoulders, bending your knees, or using any momentum. Lower yourself back to the bottom position with control as well. This exercise works the entire upper body, while the underhand grip places additional emphasis on the biceps.

3 x 10 reps

Handstand Push-up
Kick up into a handstand against a wall. Look in between your hands, bend your arms and lower your head toward the ground. Pause briefly when your nose touches the floor, then press yourself back to the top. The handstand push-up is the ultimate calisthenics exercise for the shoulders.

3 x 10 reps

Aussie Pull-up
Get down under a bar that’s about waist height with your legs extended in front of you to form a straight line from the back of your head to your heels, then pull your chest toward the bar. Pause briefly at the top, with your chest approximately 1-2 inches from the bar, then lower yourself back to the bottom with control. Aussie pull-ups work the entire upper-body with emphasis on the biceps and mid-back.

3 x 10 reps

Parallel Bar Dip
Position yourself upright between two parallel bars with your feet off the floor. Bend from your shoulders and elbows, lowering yourself until your elbows are bent to at least 90 degrees. Pause briefly at the bottom, then press yourself back to the top. Parallel bar dips will finish off whatever is left of your triceps, shoulders and chest.

3 x 20 reps

Watch the video below for more:


Al and Danny Kavadlo are Master Instructors for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. The Kavadlo Brothers have authored several internationally-acclaimed, bestselling books, including their latest, Street Workout, and have been translated into over a dozen languages. They have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times and Men’s Health, and are both regular contributors to Bodybuilding.com.

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  • villafan

    Yes i love all these huge ‘bang for your bucks’ moves. Hope you’re looking forward to bringing the PCC back to England. Hopefully i will re certify next year. Strength and honour💪

    • Hey hey hey, Steve! Definitely excited to return to London for another PCC! We’re Working Out! 🙂

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Great to hear from you Trainer Steve! Keep the dream alive!

  • Love it – all time classic exercises with a classic soundtrack!

    Chins and dips never go out of style.

    • Thanks, Carl! You know the deal!

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Rock on Carl. I remember when we worked out on those bars! See you next time youre in the States!

      • You know you’ll be getting that call when we are NYC bound again. Those TSP parallel bars are narrow and tough (but in a great way). Look forward to the new book guys and wish you both continued success. You deserve it.

  • Matt Schifferle

    Is there anything better than a good arm pump? I think not!!!

    Thanks Coach and looking forward to your new book!

    • Thanks, Matt! I can’t wait for you (and everyone else) to get the read GET STRONG! I think the plan is to have it on sale by June 1. 🙂

    • Danny Kavadlo


  • SUPER fun video, guys. While it says “arms” I love how all these do so much more at the same time. 🙂

    • Hurray for compound exercises! 🙂

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Thanks Adrienne!
      Yeah, there is no true isolation-just the body working together, even when we emphasize certain muscles.

  • Paul Vrana

    Nice! How about some love for underhand grip Aussies ?

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Ah, sweet lovin’! Good to hear from you Paul! Hope to see you next time we’re out west.

  • Jamie MacDonald

    The sequence makes some sense – alternating exercises in which the back or chest/triceps/delta are the primary movers – but not a lot. I’ve done pullups, dips and pushups on rings wearing a weight vest, as well as handstand pushups, so I know something about what’s required here. The sequence is neither in ascending or descending difficulty. I would expect a descending sequence – with the back/chest alternation mentioned – reflecting the building fatigue to be natural. That sequence would go handstand pushups, chinups, parallel dips, Aussie pullups and close pushups (a/k/a “triangles”). Close pushups are inferior in difficulty to both handstand pushups and parallel dips, especially the former, so why begin with them as they will prefatigue the chest/triceps/anterior delts, undermining later performance on the handstand pushups. The quantity of handstand pushups demanded seems unrealistically ambitious. I’ve never managed more than 7 and the only other non-gymnastic bodyweight exercise I haven’t been able to do in double digits is pistols. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone do 10 or more.

    • Thanks for your feedback! I like to use the push-ups as a warm-up, but you make some worthwhile points. Feel free to modify this template however you see fit to. 🙂

  • Chris Hansen

    I tried something like this yesterday but substituting regular pushups, pike pushups, and chair dips. And I didn’t have a pull up bar so I used ab wheel rollouts. And lower reps. Hmm, not really the same workout anymore is it? At least the Aussie pull ups where still there.

    Quick question though – What’s the recommended frequency for a workout like this?

    • That’s the beauty of Progressive Calisthenics – this template can be modified in endless ways! As for frequency, you could do a workout like this anywhere from 1-3x a week, depending on what the rest of your training looks like.

  • Jerome Eyles

    Loved this workout! Added 3×10 hanging leg raises at the end for an extra bonus 😀

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