How To Get A Bigger Upper Body At Home Without Weights

squats and chins for a bigger upper body at homeHow to get a bigger upper body at home using bodyweight exercises is todays question I’ll answer. It’s an easy one, so this will be a pretty short article. As far as only the exercise part of the equation, all you need to know about getting a bigger upper body at home are these things:

  1. Progressive resistance
  2. How frequently to work the muscle or better stated, how much rest it needs.
  3. The rep range you should be working in
  4. Exercise Selection – The actual exercises you are going to use

Use Progressive Resistance To Get A Bigger Upper Body

Progressive resistance – is simply the concept that if you want your muscle to grow, then you need to keep challenging it. In other words, you need to constantly and progressively, increase the resistance. The amount seems to be inconsequential with the smallest amount you can add allowing for longer sustained improvement periods.

Rest Between Sets and Sleep – You need to let your muscle rest between sets to recover as much as possible if muscle mass is your goal. 2-3 minutes is great if you have the time and are not concerned with keeping up an overall fitness level that cross over into muscular endurance. For most people that want a mix of both size and endurance, rest 1:00 to 1:30. Over an under that will have you specializing in extreme strength/mass gains or muscular endurance.

Not too much needs to be said about the amount of sleep. If you don’t get into your deep sleep pattern then you can’t start to rebuild the bodies systems. Most experts recommend 8 hours of sleep and I recommend however long it takes for you to wake up without an alarm. Make this happen by going to bed earlier and earlier. (full article on sleep and muscle growth)

How Frequently Should You Train?

The frequency of workout depends on the muscle groups with smaller muscle groups needing less time in hours to recover and grow than larger ones. Having said that, anywhere in the 24 to 48 hours range works for all considerations if you are not being overly analytical. There are debates about this but I found that being too particular with these sorts of details can drive you mad.

Rep Ranges and Volume – No matter what type of resistance you add to an exercise being it external weight or disadvantaged leverages like leaning into a pushup, you want the resistance to cause you great exertion and sometimes failure inside the 5-12 rep range. Lower rep ranges will mostly improve the ability to contract the muscle and higher reps will mostly increase the muscles endurance capabilities. It is all on a sliding scale of effectiveness of course but generally for adding muscle mass 4 sets of 6-8 reps works very well.

The Best Exercises For A Bigger Upper Body At Home (No Equipment)

The best bodyweight exercises for getting a bigger upper body are the ones that allow you to move the most weight through the biggest range of movement. These exercises are:

  • Handstand Pushups
  • Ring Dips
  • Pull Ups
  • Close Grip Chin Ups
  • Close Grip Or Diamond Pushups.


Now all you need to do is hit those above exercises for the rep ranges and sets I mentioned and give them some rest. Keep working for more and more reps or to make the exercise more challenging by either adding more weight, picking harder versions or doing longer ranges of motion slower.

Upper Body Workout At Home No Equipment

The previous list of exercises is awesome but if you have no equipment then I’ll give you some other options so you can still get that bigger upper body at home. I’ll assume you have nothing including no pull up bar.

Here is a modified list with sets and reps:

  • *Handstand Pushups – work up to 5×5
  • Counter Dips
  • Door Pull Ups
  • Towel Door Curls
  • Close Grip Or Diamond Pushups.
  • Sit-Ups

*Handstand pushups are really hard and it will take most people a lot of work to be able to do them. Start by doing pike pushups or pushups in the downward dog position. You can also start in the handstand against the wall and slowly increase the range of motion on the reps you do over time by lowering an object that you keep under your head to touch at the bottom position.

A Killer Upper Body Workout At Home

For a killer upper body workout at home I’m still going to stick with the same list of mass building exercises without any major equipment. The only tweaks will be additional exercises, volume and intensity techniques.

For simplicity, I would keep the majority of the work in the 4 sets of 6-8 reps range for getting bigger on each exercise before:

  1. Increasing the range of motion
  2. Picking a harder exercise variation
  3. Adding resistance through a weight vest or back pack etc.

More On Sets, Reps And Training To Failure For Muscle Growth

Having said that, in order to progress from one exercise variation to another (instead of simply adding resistance and trying to maintain 4×6-8reps) I am a fan of ramping the sets and reps which will take your through a strength, muscle and then adaptation and recovery phase… like this: 3×3, 5×2, 3×4, 4×4, 4×6, 5×6, 4×8, 4×10, 5×10

As for the parings below, I generally like to superset. I show this by listing the exercises included in the same superset with the same letter. So below A1 and A2 are paired together in a superset. B1 and B2 are paired together and so on and so forth.

For exclusively getting bigger, don’t superset and take up to one minute and 30 seconds rest between sets. It makes the workout longer and that’s the major reason I superset… to save time.

For getting bigger I also like to throw in some intensity techniques and go to failure. There are drawbacks to this. It requires better recovery methods through eating, sleeping and reduced stress from work and life. This is harder later in life for me than it was as a younger man so now I generally go for achieving the whole suggested set and rep scheme without failure as the goal. This doesn’t mean you should.

Let your training preference, enjoyment and recovery abilities dictate your level of intensity.

  • A1 Handstand Pushups
  • A2 Pull Ups
  • B1 Ring Dips
  • B2 Ring Rows
  • C1 Close Grip Chin Ups
  • C2 Close Grip Or Diamond Pushups.

By the way, if you really want to get a bigger upper body at home using only bodyweight exercises, RAY’S BIG NEWSLETTER OF FITNESS lays it all out for you! Check it out here:

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