Does Calisthenics Get You Bigger Arms?

Does Calisthenics Get You Bigger Arms?

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If you want to add a lot of bulk you need to lift weights.

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images

Calisthenics utilize repetitive motions to improve flexibility and strength, and typically use your body weight as the source of resistance. Many of these exercises also make it possible to hold weights to make your routine even more challenging. Calisthenics can help you gain muscle in your arms, but if you want to add significant bulk, you need to add weight lifting to your fitness routine.

How Calisthenic Exercises Work

Any exercise routine that requires your muscles to work against resistance can help you build strength. Because lifting all or part of your body weight can be challenging, you can see gains in muscle development with calisthenics, but they have their limits. With weight lifting, you can easily adjust the amount of weight you use and can consistently increase weight as you gain strength. With calisthenics, though, your body weight is the upper limit, which means you have less flexibility and the amount of muscle you can build is limited, particularly as you gain strength and need more challenging routines.

Building Bulk and Boosting Fitness

Many calisthenic exercises work best when they're done repeatedly. As you repeat calisthenics, you can gain an aerobic effect that helps you burn fat in addition to building muscle. This is a key benefit, because if you're not burning fat, you might not be able to see the muscle you're building.

Sample Calisthenic Arm Workout

Exercises that require you to lift a significant portion of your body weight are more likely to help you bulk up. Pushups, including variations such as the triangle or one-handed pushup, are particularly effective, and the American Council on Exercise ranks the triangle pushup as the best exercises for building your triceps. Kickbacks, pullups, biceps curls, pushdowns and dips are also highly effective at sculpting strong, shapely arms.

Increasing the Difficulty

As you build bulk and strength, the exercises you started with may become too easy. When a routine becomes less challenging, it's harder to build more muscle. When you reach the point that your calisthenic routine isn't difficult, add more reps. When additional reps no longer do the trick, try holding weights while you perform biceps curls and kickbacks. You can also add routines such as the bench press, squat and bent-over row into the mix.


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