Building Big Arms With Bodyweight Exercises

| by Truth Seeker |

Bigger arms can be acquired through bodyweight training. If you train intelligently and follow simple progressions, you can get pretty close to your maximum natural arm size by doing solely bodyweight exercises.

One of the better bodyweight exercises for the biceps are pull-ups on rings. The rings allow your wrists to rotate freely, which reduces the stress on the joints.

For triceps, close grip push-ups and parallel bar dips will work great. When you combine them with dips, you have a recipe for larger triceps.

The Routine

The routine below may be hard for a complete beginner. You may even have to lose weight before starting it. We recommend that you do it with junk free diet and moderate cardio.

Day 1: Biceps emphasis

Ring pull-ups – 8 sets of as many as you with good form
Close grip push-ups – 8 sets of as many as you can with good form

Day 2: Rest or “leg day”

Day 3: Triceps emphasis

Dips – 8 sets of as many as you with good form
Australian pull-ups with rings – 8 sets of as many as you can with good form

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Recovery and/or “leg day”

Push-ups – 5 sets
Australian pull-ups – 5 sets

Day 6 & 7: Rest

Once you have reached 10-12 pull-ups and 15-20 dips for the initial sets, consider adding weight or reducing the rest between sets. Always follow proper form. Don’t cheat by swinging your legs and cutting the range of motion.


What progression should I follow?

Add 1-3 reps to your initial sets every week. If you try to progress every session, you will stall quickly. It’s better to follow a weekly progression.

Is this the ultimate way to build your arms?

Truth be told, there’s nothing magical about this approach. It’s not superior to regular weight training. But if you progress and eventually add weight, your upper body and arms won’t have a choice but to respond. Yet some regular curls could also be highly beneficial, although you may have to reduce the pulling volume to make space for them.

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  1. Barry

    Mate-can you tell me please (1)What are Australian pullups?
    (2)The program you have set out: will this guarantee me a ”peak” in the biceps? Have done a lot of work over the years with weights on biceps but very little progress.
    Think it may be now for a change to bodyweight.
    Is it possible to have a private email reply please?

  2. Nick

    I’m a runner who has been doing calisthenics exclusively for years.

    What I will say is this: You can build solid arms with pushups alone. Just look at many soldiers (who do exclusively cardio and pushups) have pretty big arms. Even the regular pushup, done well (elbows close to body) really hits the triceps and big triceps = big arms. Pullups (supinated grip) are good but not amazing for biceps.

    What is really missing and is beneficial if you want to hit the biceps are curls of any kind. It does feel really missing when you do calisthenics.

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