Calisthenics Upper Body Workouts for Beginners
Start calisthenics with a STRONG foundation using these two beginner calisthenics upper body workouts. You’ll improve your pull-ups, push-ups, core, and shoulder mobility, and you’ll even learn some fun skills.
These workouts strengthen your calisthenics fundamentals, including pull-ups, push-ups, core and shoulder mobility, providing you with the necessary components to advance in calisthenics training.
True Calisthenics Beginners Start Here…
If you’re a complete calisthenics beginner, meaning you can’t do a pull-up, or full push-ups, start with this full-body calisthenics workout routine 3 days per week for 6 weeks. Once that routine becomes easy, move on to the two works on this page.
Part 1, which is the full body beginner calisthenics workout, is essential for learning how to move your body well, utilize your core and control your shoulders in basic calisthenics exercises.
Workout Equipment for Beginner Calisthenics
This beginner upper body calisthenics workout can be done at home, in the gym or at a calisthenics park. If you’re doing it at home, here is the equipment I would recommend:
1. At Home Dip Bars.
The Lebert EQualizers are very stable, easy to store in a small apartment and are incredibly versatile. Check out these 10 best dip bar exercises for beginners. Plus, you can order the larger bars if you’re over 6′ tall. Discount code SUMMER.
2. Doorframe Pull-Up Bar.
If you’re serious about getting your first pull-up, an at-home pull-up bar is necessary. Discount code Summerfitness10.
3. Loop Resistance Bands.
The two calisthenics equipment brands I use the most, Lebert Fitness and Pullup&Dip, both offer resistance bands.
4. Mini P-Bars.
These are the most used pieces of calisthenics equipment I own. I always keep them in my gym bag as they make working out in any location easier, make harder calisthenics exercises more accessible and are easier on the wrists than performing handstands, planches, and push-ups on the floor. Here’s why I love using p-bars. Discount code Summerfitness10.
Upper Body Beginner Calisthenics Workout Day 1.
The first workout of the week is equally focused on calisthenics pull and calisthenics push exercises and, of course, some core work to help you become a well-balanced athlete.
1. Skin the Cat to German Hang
4-6 cluster reps x 2 sets. Hold the german hang for a few seconds before pulling back through.
Beginner Skin the Cat To German Hang Tutorial >
When first learning how to Skin The Cat, perform the exercise close to the ground, cross at the ankles to come through, slightly bend the elbows, continuously pull down hard on the bar to minimize swing, and stay in a small tucked ball until you can perform with without swinging.
Intermediate Skin the Cat To German Hang Tutorial >
When you’ve mastered the beginner version, it’s time to take it off the ground. You can perform Skin the Cats with either a supinated or pronated grip. Starting in a hang position, pull your shoulders down your back so that there’s space between your ears and your shoulders, keeping your arms straight, lift your legs in a tucked position, cross at the ankles to come through the bar, then, remain in a tucked position while continuously pulling down on the bar to reduce swing, then, lower to the point that you can pull back out of (don’t go too deep), hold for a breath, then pull back through.
Advanced Skin the Cat To German Hang Tutorial>
An advanced Skin the Cat requires excellent shoulder mobility and control. Starting with straight arms, perform straight leg toes to bar, pull through with straight legs and straight arms, then lower to a full German Hang position with your body extended in a hollow body shape. Then reverse it. Work towards a shoulder dislocate if you want to make this more advanced.
3 cluster reps 4-8 second lowers x 3 sets
Starting with 4-second lowers; if you can’t do a 4 second lower, use a foot assist. Once you can do 3 in a row of 4 seconds, move up to 5 seconds, working up to doing 3 in a row, all the way up to 3 in a row of 8 seconds.
According to Steven Low, Once you can do 3 reps, 8 second lowers, 3 sets, you should be able to do a full concentric. Learn how to get your first pull-up here >
*Cluster sets means you can rest in between reps. As you improve week to week, decrease the rest time between reps until you can do the designated amount of reps in a row.
If you can do 3 reps, 8 second lowers, you can switch to doing bodyweight pull-ups or weighted negatives.
4. Australian Rows
5 reps second up, 2 second hold at the top, 1 second down x 4 sets.
5. Incline Push Ups
6 reps 3 second lower, 1 second up, to a yoga block until needed x 3 sets.
6. Machine Assisted Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups
12 reps even tempo, use weight to help. Can use neutral grip x 2 sets.
8. Tucked L-Sit Holds
Accumulate 60 seconds of work. Always come down before failure. Track how long it takes to achieve 60 seconds of total hold time.
Spend 10 minutes stretching and working on your mobility after every workout.
I have multiple routines you can do on my YouTube channel. Below is a follow-along routine to get your splits/improve hip mobility, which will benefit pistol squats, handstand presses, and more.
Beginner Calisthenics Upper Body Workout Day 2
Day 2 of this beginner calisthenics workout strengthens your fundamentals, introduces you to skill training and even includes some calisthenics legs.
1. Skin the Cat to German Hang
4-6 cluster reps x 2 sets. Hold the German Hang for a few seconds before pulling back through.
Beginner Skin the Cat Tutorial >
2. Incline Diamond Push-Ups
10 reps slow down, quick up x 3 sets.
3. Crow or Crane Pose
Work up to 10-second holds. Start with 5 seconds, then work your way up. Take at minimum 60 seconds of rest between x 7 sets. The crow pose is an excellent introduction to calisthenics skill training. This beginner inversion familiarizes you with being on your hands, which will ultimiately help with wall handstand training when you’re ready.
4. Resistance Band Assisted Frenchie Pull-Ups
6 reps x 3 sets. Pull up to upper chest, lower halfway, pull back up to upper chest, then down. That’s one rep. Make sure to pause briefly in each position.
6. Deep Touch Downs
6 reps per leg x 3 sets. Starting from the top, lower to lightly touch your foot down, then explode up. If you don’t have a box or chair to perform this on, swap it for one of my other calisthenics leg exercises.
7. Hanging Tucked Leg Raises + Max Hold
10 reps x 3 sets. End with a max tucked hold to failure.
8. Glute Bridge to Core Compression
10 reps x 3 sets. This one may initially seem a bit silly, so let’s talk about it. Firstly, we are working on our shoulder depression ability throughout the entire movement. This will improve your support holds, v-sits, l-sits, dips, and numerous other calisthenics exercises. The glute bridge familiarizes your body with the correct pelvis position for beginner handstands. While the transition improves your coordination and, of course, your core connection.
Perform these beginner calisthenics upper body workouts 2-4 times per week for 6-8 weeks to see massive improvements in pull-ups, push-ups, dips, shoulder mobility, body awareness and core control.