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.
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
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
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.