11 Calisthenics Arm Exercises Trainers Love

No weights required.

Originally Published: 
The best calisthenics arm exercises you can do, according to trainers.


Calisthenics are a type of strength training that uses your body weight versus equipment, says trainer Oscar Colon IV. Since they’re often compound, functional movements, he says they’re an ideal way to train the arms. Here are some calisthenics arm exercises trainers love.

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Bear Crawl

Colon says this is a great beginner’s exercise for the triceps and shoulders.

- On all fours, lift your knees and hover an inch off ground.

- Move one hand and opposite foot to move forward.

- Alternate sides to crawl.

- Stay low to ground.

- Do 3 sets of 30 seconds.



Try push-ups to work your arms and chest, says Colon.

- Get into high plank, hands slightly wider than shoulders, arms and legs straight.

- Lower body down until chest almost touches floor.

- Pause, push back up.

- To modify, keep knees down.

- Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.


Pike Push-Up

Colon suggests this tough move to work your shoulders.

- Start in push-up position, arms straight, hands shoulder-width apart.

- Lift hips, body forms a V.

- Bend elbows, lower top of head to floor.

- Push back up.

- Do 6-10 reps, 3x.


Tricep Dips

Colon says this staple exercise targets the triceps.

- Sit on bench, hands next to hips, feet flat on floor.

- Lift off bench, squeeze shoulder blades together.

- Slowly lower hips to ground.

- Elbows stay below shoulders.

- Push back up.

- Do 12-18 reps, 2x.


Sphinx Push-Up

Colon likes this push-up progression to focus on the triceps.

- Start in modified plank, forearms and knees on floor.

- Elbows under shoulders.

- Engage core.

- Straighten legs and arms to full plank.

- Lower back to forearms.

- Repeat 8-10 reps, 4x.


Bodyweight Row

Colon says this compound move works the arms and back.

- Lie on back under waist-height bar.

- Grab bar with overhand grip, hands wider than shoulders.

- Contract abs, keep body in straight line.

- Pull chest to bar.

- Lower and repeat.

- Do 8-13 reps, 3x.

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Trainer John Gardner recommends pull-ups to engage the shoulders and arms.

- Jump up, grab bar with overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.

- Hang straight.

- Engage core, slowly lift up until chin is at bar.

- Lower back to start.

- Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.



This version of a pull-up hits the biceps, chest, and back, says Colon.

- Grab a pull-up bar with underhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.

- Engage upper back, core.

- Lift chest up to bar.

- Slowly lower to start.

- Do 4 sets of 6-8 reps.


Bicep Curls

Trainer Rachel MacPherson recommends this move.

- Stand in front of a lower bar at calisthenics park.

- Grab it with underhand grip.

- Lean back on an angle, heels on ground.

- Use biceps to pull your body to the bar.

- Hold, slowly lower.

- Do 10-15 reps, 3x.


Wall Push-Ups

This exercise works the arms and is a great option for beginners, says MacPherson.

- Stand near wall.

- Extend arms, place palms on wall.

- Brace core, bend elbows to lower chest towards wall.

- Slowly push back up to straight arms.

- Repeat 10-15 reps.


V-Sit Progression

Trainer Dave Mace says this core exercise also works the triceps.

- Lift yourself up on parallel bars, straight arms.

- Tuck knees into chest.

- Hold 30 seconds, 5x.

- Extend legs straight, keep legs above bars.

- Hold.

- For a challenge, reach feet up into a V.

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