Now you know the best calisthenics arm exercises. Yay. But, what the hell do you do with that information?
On it’s own it’s
pretty useless isn’t it?
You can do the
exercises, sure. But how many? How often? In what order?
Don’t worry. What
you need are workouts to go with those exercises.
Workouts that will
keep you challenged. Keep you moving towards your goal. Workouts that
will help you build toned, muscular arms and stronger biceps.
Arms that you won’t
be afraid to show off in a strappy top in the summer.
That's what I’ve
got for you. So, what are we waiting for?
Let’s do this…
Before we get on to
the workouts, I’m going to recap a few things, just in case you’ve
come straight here.
confident you know everything there is to know about your biceps and
the exercises you should be doing, head straight to the workout with
the link above.
But, there might be
a few things you don’t know, so it’s worth a read...
The biceps muscles,
or biceps brachii to give them their full name, can be found on the
front of your upper arm.
They are a two
headed muscle, hence bi, the long head and the short head, which join
the shoulder joint to the elbow joints. Their main function is to
bend the elbow, known as elbow flexion.
It’s important you know this because it helps visualise how to do the exercises properly, and you know that anything, any exercise, that involves bending the elbow, is going to be working your biceps.
I also want to take
a moment to talk about how to get stronger biceps, rather than bigger
I know it’s a
concern many women face, maybe you’re one of them, you don’t want
really big muscles.
You don’t want to
look manly and you don’t want to look like a body builder.
I get it. I really
do. I used to have the exact same concerns. I’d always shy away
from any kind of strength training.
But, whilst you
don’t want huge muscles, you do want muscle. Muscle is what forms
that shape of the arms that you covert. The defined, athletic
And to get muscle,
you have to strength train.
But, I want to
reassure you that the workouts below are all focused on getting you
stronger biceps, not bigger biceps.
If we were going for
bigger we’d be cranking out the weights and concentrating on
isolation exercises, like the dumbbell bicep curl, or dumbbell curls.
That is how you go about building muscle mass.
isolation exercises. And very good nutrition and testosterone. And,
Building big muscles
Believe me, the
workouts below are not going to get you huge biceps.
It’s the last
thing I’d want as well.
We’ll be focusing
on a different type of exercise. The compound exercise. That means
they’ll be using different muscle groups, more than one muscle
group. Which means there’s not the impetus for a specific muscle
group to grow.
stronger arms. More defined arms. And have a good workout for the
upper body in general.
set your mind at rest a little.
And with that, let’s move on...
Calisthenics is all
about strength training but using just your own bodyweight and
gravity to do it.
There’s no need to
rush out and buy fancy equipment. Or, spend lots of money on bits and
pieces that will just end up clogging up your cupboard.
Your body is enough.
Once you get to a
certain level, you might want to think about investing in something
like a pull-up bar, some resistance bands, a suspension trainer or
even possibly some gymnastics rings.
But, don’t stress.
There is no need for
In fact, there’ll
never be a need for it, but you might want it.
No, your own body weight is perfectly adequate to give you a good workout. Actually, an amazing workout.
As you may have
seen, there are some really cool advanced moves when it comes to
Human flag, front
lever, handstand press, a personal goal of mine.
They look amazing
and take tremendous strength to do properly.
strength is what we’re working on. We’re working towards being
strong enough to do those moves.
We’re not there
yet though. If you are, what are you doing here?
We’re going to
concentrate on the basics until we are there.
And by basics, I in no way mean easy. These workouts won’t be easy. They’ll be tough and challenging. Simple yes, but not easy.
It’s always a good
idea to know how to scale a workout.
Some of the
exercises may be too hard for you at the moment, but, soon they will
So you’ll want to
know how to make them easier in the short term, but then how to make
them harder once you start building strength.
And you will build
strength. Possibly very quickly.
So, with the
workouts below we’re concentrating on good old traditional
This is a great
exercise to build strength. Not only in your biceps, but your upper
body as a whole.
It’s also great
for your core. It’s a win win really.
The push-up is quite
a difficult exercise. It does require a great deal of strength to do
a proper one, with good form.
I can only manage a
couple at a time and I used to deadlift 120 kilos.
So, if you are
struggling, an easier variation would be to drop your knees to the
floor. Work up to the reps suggested with your knees on the floor,
and then try a few full ones.
Do what you can
before dropping those knees again.
The main point to
remember, each week try and add another one.
You might not be
able to every week. And that’s ok as well. You might need a little
break. Do what you can, when you can.
knocking out 15 reps of full push-ups, for three rounds, then you can
think about making the exercise a little harder.
Maybe elevate your
Put your hands on an
Maybe try a
completely different exercise, like a pull-up or a chin-up. Use the
same rep and set range, and rest interval as the workout below.
Now, do you want to know what you’re going to be doing?
As I’ve mentioned,
the main focus of the workouts below, is to get stronger in the
Because it is an
awesome exercise that has many, many crossovers. Both to other
exercises and real life.
It not only works
your upper body, it works your core too.
And when you knock
out 20 odd push-ups without really breaking a sweat, jaws drop. It’s
I know because I
have a friend who can. I can’t.
Anyway, I digress.
It is an awesome exercise. So, we’re going to focus on getting stronger in this move.
To do a push-up come into a high plank position, with your hands either side of your chest about boob level. Your elbow creases should be facing forward.
Your legs should be straight and you should be up on your toes. Unless you’re bringing your knees to the floor.
Bending your elbows, lower your chest to the floor, getting as close to the floor as you can, without actually coming all the way to the floor.
Your elbows should remain by your side pointing backwards. Don’t turn them out to the side, you won’t be working your muscles in the right way if you do that.
Hover here for a brief second and push back up to the starting position.
Remember, the main focus of the push-up is to get your chest as close to the floor as possible. If you have to stay on your knees a little longer to achieve that, then do it.
The inverted row, or
the bodyweight row, is the perfect accompaniment to the push-up.
It uses, roughly the
same motion, so the same muscles, but it’s a pulling motion,
instead of a pushing motion. You need to be strong in both pulling
and pushing movements to have a super strong upper body.
This one would be a
little easier if you had some equipment. Suspension trainer for
example. But, if you’ve got two sofas and broom handle, placing the
broom handle over the arms of both sofas would work just as well.
If neither of those are an option, go for a coffee table. A rectangular or square one you can lie underneath.
Lying under the coffee table, face up, legs stretched out straight.
Grab the sides of the coffee table, engage your core and lift yourself up so that your chest comes as close as you can get it to the table.
Your whole body should lift.
Only your heels should remain on the floor.
Hover here for a moment and lower back down, but not all of the way to the floor.
The key here is controlling the movement.
It should feel seamless.
You might be
thinking, hey, the plank is an ab exercise.
And you’d be
right. But, to stay in the plank position doesn’t just require
strong abs, it needs strong arms as well.
As long as you’re
up there, you’re working your arms, so it’s a great one to
support push-up progression.
To get into position
lay on the floor face down. Bring your hands under your shoulders and
push your body up, so that your arms are straight and you’re on
Your body should be
in a straight, diagonal line from your head, down to your heels.
This is a high plank
Once you’re here,
you hold the position for the required amount of time.
It’s that simple.
So, we’ve done a
lot of work focusing on our biceps, this exercise focuses on your
They are the
antagonist of the Biceps,. That means it opposes the action of the
biceps. So the biceps bend the elbow, the triceps straighten the
important you work both sets of muscles.
You will need a
bench, chair, table or sofa for this exercise.
Sitting on the
bench, stretch your legs out in front of you so that your heels are
touching the floor. Your hands should be either side of you with your
fingers cusped over the edge.
Shuffle your bum off
the bench, keeping your legs straight, engage your core and lower
your bum as close as you can to the floor, without actually sitting
Hover here for a
moment and push back up to the starting position. And repeat.
If you find this difficult, bring your feet in closer, bending your knees. If you find it easy try taking a foot off the floor. Remember to take the other foot off the floor in the next set.
are essentially a moving plank.
They’re like high
knees but with your hands on the floor.
Come into a high
plank position with your hands shoulder width apart. You should be up
on your toes, and just as in a plank, your body should be in a
straight, diagonal line from your head to your heels.
Lift your right foot
off the floor, bend your right knee and bring it up to your torso
between your arms. Take your foot back out and back to the floor.
Repeat on the other side.
Writing the description out, doesn’t really portray how fast this movement is. As I mentioned, think high knees. It’s like running but facing the floor with your hands on the floor.
Sitting on the floor
with your knees bent, place your hands on the floor behind you
Engage your core and
lift your bum off the floor.
Start walking by
moving your right foot and left hand and then repeat on the other
side, left foot, right hand.
Keep crab walking until the time is up.
If you have designs
on being able to complete a handstand, the wall walk is a really
great place to start.
Crouching in front
of a wall, place your hands on the floor and your feet on the wall.
Start walking up the
wall with your feet and as you do, walk your hands closer to the
wall. Keep going until your body is in a straight line close to the
wall. Or until you don’t think you can go any more.
Do push yourself
That’s the idea
with all of these workouts.
If you don’t push
yourself, you’ll never get any stronger.
To come out of it, walk your feet down the wall as you walk your hands away from the wall. So, the exact opposite of what you did to get up there.
Complete 8 – 15 reps of each exercise for 3 rounds then move onto the next. Rest for 90 seconds between rounds
Complete the first exercise, the strength exercise, for 10 reps, then the second exercise, the cardio exercise for 20 seconds. Do three rounds each, resting 90 seconds between rounds.
There are fewer reps with this workout so make the exercises
harder if you can. Try for full push ups, if you’ve been doing
knees to the floor. Or elevated push ups if you’ve nailed the
regular push up.
Complete 5 rounds of 1 – 5 reps of each exercise. Then move on to the next. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
If you want strong biceps, not big biceps, make sure you give
these workouts a go. Challenge yourself. But, don’t overdo it.
Remember, nail the basics first and then move onto the fancy looking stuff. You will be stronger and more toned, in the long run for it.
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