In this post I’m going to show you some of the best calisthenics exercises for your arms.
All ten of these bodyweight exercises are guaranteed to blast all of the muscles in your arms and help you build some serious strength.
Below I’ve divided the exercises into three different categories; triceps, biceps, and forearms.
Since calisthenics are naturally compound exercises by nature you’re also going to workout other muscles along with the specific one you’re targeting but this is a good thing and one of the reasons why calisthenics is such a great way to build functional strength.
However, in order to help you build some killer strength in your arms I’ve listed the exercises for each muscle group in descending order with the exercise that focuses the most on the specific muscle at the top and the ones that employ other muscles to help more near the bottom of each list.
So go ahead and have a look through the list below.
I promise that if you try these exercises regularly you’ll see that calisthenics is all you need to build massive strength.
Any movement which requires you to go from a bent arm to a straight arm is going to work your triceps and these three exercises below are designed to really focus on and blast the back half of your arm:
Diamond Push Ups
The diamond push up is designed to brutally focus on your triceps.
It’s done by placing your hands beneath your chest with the index fingers and thumbs of your hands touching so that they form a “diamond” between them.
Lower yourself up and down just as you would with a normal push up but instead of feeling the burn concentrated in your chest it will be your triceps that are taking most of the heat.
And if you want to make it even more difficult you can give your kids a rife on your back too!
Do this exercise regularly if you want to build powerful triceps.
Dips are definitely one of the best upper body calisthenics workouts there is.
They’re definitely harder than normal pushups because your whole body is off of the ground as opposed to your toes still touching when you do pushups.
However, they target the chest a little bit more than diamond pushups which is why I’ve listed them second on the list.
That being said, they’re still an awesome way to blast your triceps when you want to do something different or if diamond pushups have become too easy.
To do dips you need to place yourself in between two objects or surfaces of equal height that you can grip.
Next, you’re simply going to pick your feet up as you rest your weight on to your hands.
Then lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel with the floor and then raise yourself back up again until your arms are straight.
The easiest way to do dips is to use a dip station or a pull up bar station that has bars extended for doing dips on.
However, if you don’t have these it’s no problem. You can just head to your local park or playground and find plenty of bars you can work out on.
Even if you don’t feel like going to the park there are lots of ways to do dips at home that I explain in this post here.
The last way to really work your triceps is an exercise called the handstand pushup but it’s not an exercise for beginners.
First you have to have the balance to perform a handstand and then you have to be capable of pressing your whole weight over your head.
However, even if you’ve never done a handstand before, you can still do this workout. You just have to find a sturdy wall and use it to balance yourself on.
Crouch down next to the wall facing away from it and then slowly walk your feet up the wall until you are doing a plank in a straight line with your body; your feet against the wall and your hands on the floor.
Next, walk backwards with your hands towards the wall while keeping your body straight so you are eventually upside down with your belly facing the wall.
Now go ahead and slowly lower your head down to the floor, while maintaining your balance, and then lift yourself back up again using your arms.
Again, remember before doing this exercise that you have to be able to press your full bodyweight or else you’re just going to end up doing a headstand until you let yourself fall down.
If you’ve never tried this before I’d suggest placing some kind of mat down in front of you so that if you do fall down you’ll have a little more cushioning to catch you.
Here’s a good video on doing your first handstand:
With calisthenics your biceps are worked by pulling your body against gravity upwards.
Here are three of the best ways to do that to really focus on building the biceps.
Chin ups are done by grabbing onto a bar above you, or any object you can find, with your palms facing towards your body.
Then you’re going to lift your body up until your chin is above the bar.
Don’t cheat and stop before your chin goes above the bar! You want to make sure you go through a full range of motion to get the maximum benefit of this exercise and really pump your biceps.
Pull ups are one of my favorite exercises and also one of the best ways to work your biceps using your own bodyweight.
The reason I listed it below the chin ups is because the way you place your hands while doing pull ups causes you to focus more on your back muscles and lats than when you do chin ups.
In order to do pull ups you’re going to do the same thing as a chin up except you’re going to have your palms facing away from you on the bar.
Once you’ve got a firm grip go ahead and lift yourself up until your chin has crested the bar, just like with a chin up.
If you can’t quite get your chin above the bar yet then you can check out this post I wrote here to help you do your first full pull up.
Another great way to work your biceps with calisthenics is to do inverted rows.
Similar to pull ups and chin ups you’re going to be lifting your body upwards but what’s different is that you’ll be keeping your feet on the ground.
The easiest way to do this exercise at home is find a long or heavy table to get under.
Begin by laying down under the table with your arms pointing straight up and your hands gripping the side of the table.
Next, simply lift your upper body off of the ground until your chest is close to or touching the table.
Just think of it as a kind of reverse push up.
But make sure that you’re using a sturdy and heavy table or else it flip up and then you and the table will come crashing down.
Your forearms are actually really easy to work out when doing calisthenics since you’re already having to grip different objects securely as you move your body through space.
But in order to really blast your forearms while doing bodyweight exercises you can make these small modifications to develop super human grip strength:
Wide Grip Pull Up Bar
By wide grip I’m not talking about where you place your hands while doing the pull up but how wide the actual bar is that you’re using for the pull ups (or chin ups).
By using a bar that is extra wide you’re making it harder for your hands to hold onto the bar and making your forearms work extra hard throughout the exercise.
By regularly using an extra wide bar for your pulling exercise you’ll begin to develop a much stronger grip.
You also don’t have to use a traditional bar for this.
You can try holding on to tree branches outside or gripping the edge of a strong doorframe to build up your hand strength as well.
Towel Pull Ups or Chin Ups
Another way to work your grip strength while doing pull ups is to hang a towel around the bar you’re using.
Then, instead of gripping the bar, grip each end of the towel in one of your hands for doing the pull up.
This makes doing pull ups much more like climbing rope in gym class except you can’t use your legs and feet to help.
This can really take your forearm strength to the next level.
Finger Tip Push Ups
Everyone knows how to do push ups but by adding this simple trick to them you can really increase your hand and grip strength.
Instead of laying your palms flat on the floor you’re only going to place your finger tips on the floor when you do your push ups.
This won’t really make the exercise anymore difficult but it’s guaranteed to give your hands and forearms quite a workout.
Hanging from a Bar
When you’re just getting started with calisthenics your grip strength can sometimes hold you back from being able to properly do a lot of the bodyweight pulling exercises that are involved.
That’s why hanging from a pull up bar, or any surface really, is a great way to build up your forearm and grip strength when you’re starting out with calisthenics.
Just reach up and grip your pull up bar and then lift your legs off of the floor.
See how long you can hold on before you have to drop down again.
Try to get yourself up to a solid one minute of hanging time before you move on to some more difficult forearm strengthening exercises.
Bodyweight exercises are a fantastic way to build strong arms and functional strength.
They’re also easy to do at home or when you’re on the go which makes it impossible to miss a workout.
If you make some of these exercises a regular part of your routine I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the results.