Bodyweight Arms Workout: 15 Minutes For More Effective High Fives

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
September 05, 2016


Imagine watching a football game on TV with your best buds. Your favorite team is trailing in the waning moments of the game and it’s looking more and more grim. Then on the last play, there’s a hail mary attempt and your team comes down with the ball in the endzone. They’ve won the game! (Note to Detroit Lions fans: don’t click that link.)

You and your friends jump and shout with excitement, and that’s when it’s time to commence in the most sacred of good-times rituals: the high five. You lock eyes with your pal, wind up the arm, and…

It falls totally flat. No satisfying slap!, no solid connection with your fellow fiver’s palm, and no real power in the follow through. You mumble awkwardly to your friend about how this never happens and turn away, thinking you probably should have just given a thumbs up.

If this has ever happened to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. High five fails happen hundreds of times a day, affecting everyone from newscasters to professional athletes. Reasons vary, but one cause for these gaffs could be a lack of arm strength. And if that’s the issue you’re experiencing, we’re here to help!

We’re not going to be giving you a high-five tutorial. Although, if you are looking guidance on its proper etiquette, you can check that out here. Instead, we’re going to stick with what we know. And what we know a lot about is building a solid, lean physique and burning unwanted fat. And there’s perhaps no part of the body where unwanted fat can linger worse than our arms.

That’s why we’ve put together a bodyweight arms workout that is going to give your guns some extra ammo. It’s perfect for anyone looking to tone up and shed unwanted arm fat.

Now, that’s not to say targeting a specific part of the body during exercise will shed the fat in that area. That’s an idea known as spot fat reduction, and it definitely does not work. Burning fat takes a lot more than just working a specific area. You need to make proper nutrition a priority. (Fortunately, we have a great e-book with tips and tricks on optimizing your nutrition — and overall environment — which you can check out here.)

And this bodweight arms workout — carefully crafted to help you get those arms where you want them — will help with that effort!

Though, the truth is, there are a lot of people who don’t think it’s possible to get a solid arm workout using nothing but your own bodyweight. These people will insist on loading up the curling bar, and straining and grunting your way to muscle gains. That’s just not the case. What we’ve put together is one of the best arms workouts you’ll be able to get, and it’s 100% calisthenics-based. That means no fancy gym equipment, and no need to leave your house. You’ve got all the tools you’ll need for this already.

So if you’re looking for a great workout that will help burn fat, give you those tight, toned muscles that pop out of your t-shirt’s sleeves and, most importantly, allow you to high five your friends into next week, read on and see what we’ve created for you!
Muscle Groups of the Arm

Knee Health Score 2

Now, when we talk about the muscles of the arm, and the areas this workout is going to stress, we’re talking about a few key areas:

  • Biceps brachii: the muscle in the front of your arm, above the elbow joint. When people talk about “beach muscles,” this is the one.
  • Triceps brachii: the large muscle behind the bicep. The tricep is the much larger of the two muscles, so it can’t be neglected!
  • Forearms: the muscles between the wrist and the elbow. There are many muscles in this region, but the anterior compartment (palm-side) benefits the most from bicep exercises.
  • Deltoids: the muscle forming the rounded contour of the shoulder. A lot of workouts separate shoulder workouts from arm exercises, but we’re going to engage the deltoids, making a more thorough arm workout for you.



We’re going to get you nice and loose for this bodyweight arm circuit. Follow these stretching activities before beginning the main workout. If you’re not sure what to do for the stretch, just click the link and you’ll be directed to a short video that will explain everything.

And speaking of which, we have compiled all of our videos and advice about stretching into one helpful article for you! Check out our 47 Awesome Stretching Exercises and Stretching Routines here.

Wrist flicks — 20-30 reps
Elbow oscillations — 15/arm
Tricep stretch — 30 seconds/arm
Forearm stretch — 30 seconds
Arm oscillation — 15/arm

Also, make sure you also keep a bottle of water handy. Proper hydration is extremely important, even during a short exercise circuit like this.

15 Minute Bodyweight Arms Workout


One thing you’ll notice here is that we decided not to include chin-ups in this workout. That’s not because we don’t like chin-ups. In fact, we love them! And we’ve got another article on using chin-ups to build strong, toned biceps we’d definitely recommend you check out. But just in case you are not near a horizontal bar (or a suitable substitute), we wanted to make sure you were able to do the entire workout.

So you won’t need any special gym equipment for these. This workout does, however, require a couple normal items you’re sure to find around your house. Read on to find out!

Without further ado, let’s get you in motion and get you on the path to giving the most epic high fives your friends and fellow sports fans have ever experienced!

Push-ups with bicep emphasis — 3 sets of 8

As we said, the biggest problem people have with bodyweight arm workouts is the perceived lack of options. What a lot of people don’t know is there’s a way to tone your arms with the most popular calisthenics exercise around!

We all know standard push ups are great for the chest muscles. And for that matter, there are a lot of variations of push-ups that emphasize different muscle groups. So it is, too, with your biceps.

Begin in standard push-up position with your feet out, shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be slightly further than shoulder width apart and turned out about 45-degrees (thumbs pointed outward). Lower yourself down and squeeze your biceps. Keep engaging the biceps as you press back up. You should feel tension in the upper arm area throughout the entire exercise.

Diamond push-ups — 3 sets of 10

Another push-up variation, this one is great for those all-important triceps. Begin with your feet just as they were for the bicep push-ups, shoulder-width apart. Your hands, instead of being placed out near the shoulders, are actually going to be pulled in directly under the chest.

Touch your index fingers and thumbs, creating a diamond. Lower yourself down for the push-up, bringing your chest as close as you can to your hands. You should feel the tension in the triceps throughout the exercise. Don’t get discouraged if you get fatigued quickly — these are much tougher than normal push-ups!

Bicep Towel Pulls — 3 sets of 30 seconds

Now, for this exercise, you’ll be using an unusual piece of equipment. You can probably guess it from the title.

Grab an ordinary towel from around the house (you can also use a rope, a blanket, or anything long that will hold up to some tension). Grab it firmly at both ends. Step on the middle of the towel with your feet on the floor. If the towel (or whatever equipment you use) is too short and you’re hunched over, you can place your foot on a chair in front of you and hold the towel under there.

Engage your biceps and pull up as hard as you can. Nothing should be moving, because this is an isometric exercise. But after thirty seconds, you should feel a deep fatigue in both biceps.

Bodyweight side laterals — 2 sets of 8/side

This exercise is going to strengthen the deltoid muscle of the shoulder with a challenging calisthenics exercise that not a lot of people know. Bodyweight side laterals use your shoulder’s movement against the resistance of your weight to get a deep burn and shred your deltoids.

You’ll be facing down as you would in a push-up position, with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart for balance. Place your right forearm on the ground so that your arm is at a 90-degree angle. Then take your other hand and place it behind your back.

Keeping your core tight, turn your body so that your torso is completely sideways and your left shoulder is directly on top of the right. Then, turn your body back toward the ground and bring your left shoulder down to the height of your right shoulder. Essentially, you’re moving your body away from the shoulder you’re working, then moving back toward it. This creates massive tension in the shoulder muscles. Once you’ve completed one set with the right shoulder, perform the same motion on the left shoulder.

Bench dips — 3 sets of 8

For the last exercise, you’ll once again be engaging your triceps. And to do it, you need nothing more than a standard bench, or chair, or sturdy coffee table — basically anything strong enough to hold your bodyweight with an edge that’s 1-2’ off the ground.

Knee Health Score 2

Stand in front of the bench and grip the edge with your hands behind you, so that your palms are facing down. Stick your legs straight out and balance on your heels. Begin with a slight bend in your arms and lower your butt down to the floor. As you do so, your arms will bend until they are closer to 90-degrees. Without raising your hips, push through your palms to raise your body back to starting position. You should feel a deep burn in the triceps here.

Ready to Rock?

We sure hope so! By incorporating this awesome calisthenics arms routine into your exercise regimen, you’re on your way to strong, toned arms that could give a high five powerful enough to make a brick wall wince.

And if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below, or shoot an email over to, and we’ll be happy to help you out.

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1 Comment
  1. Kareem

    Great workout Todd thank you for sharing nice stuff.
    btw Elbow oscillations is link wrong is same as arm oscillation, have a great day buddy

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