THE 6 BEST CALISTHENICS EXERCISES for Chest, Shoulders, Triceps and ABS

August 4, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

The 6 best calisthenics exercises to develop the pressing muscles of the body: chest, shoulders and triceps. Core work also included!

Calisthenics work and in some aspects they are even better than many weighted exercises. However, the best results are achieved when everything is combined together.

Most calisthenics exercises are full body compound movements which are high in neuromuscular activity and often have a high core stability element involved as well.

This makes the bodyweight exercises especially beneficial for martial artists, athletes and anyone who wants to have mastery over his or her body. 

Gyms are very convenient and highly recommend, but in case you don't have access to a gym, bodyweight training done at home or in a street workout park will produce great results. 

In addition to all the movement skills and flow routines, Movement 20XX program also consists purely of bodyweight exercises such as different squatting exercises, pulling movements and crawling patterns.

Below are 2 beginner, 2 intermediate and 2 advanced exercises to really challenge the core and the pressing muscles of the body (mainly chest, shoulders and triceps).

To find more calisthenics exercises, check out this blog post. 

1. Russian Dip (INTERMEDIATE)

russian dip

Russian dip is similar to the regular dip except in the russian dip you fall back on your forearms in the bottom of the repetition. 

Russian dip will emphasize more the shoulders, elbows and wrists than the regular dip.

The best results are obtained when you do the russian dip with control. It's easy to skip the most beneficial part of the repetition (transition) with too much momentum.

For achieving the strict muscle up, russian dip is one of the best preliminary exercises you can do to strengthen your wrists, elbows and shoulders for the task.

2. Archer Dip (ADVANCED)

archer dip

Archer dip is one of the hardest dip variations you can do because a significant amount of bodyweight is placed on one arm at the time. 

Arched dip is the most convenient to do with a set of gymnastic rings, but it's also possible to do on a single bar or on parallel bars with a wide grip.

You will work all 3 heads of the triceps extremely hard while also strengthening the chest and anterior deltoids. You maximize the shoulder and tricep engagement by taking an underhand grip of the bar.

Slow and controlled execution is a must for results.

3. Korean Dip (ADVANCED)

korean dip korean dips

Korean dip is a brutal exercises for the shoulders because the shoulders are stretched to the maximum and they need to withstand a great deal of stress.

At the upper portion of the repetition your triceps will also be heavily trained. You may also feel the exercise in your hamstrings, glutes and lower back due to the intense stabilization element.

There are two ways to do the korean dip: 1. more controlled variation with less swing where you focus more on the strength of the triceps, or 2. swinging version which is tougher for the shoulders and body stabilization.

You can also alter the grip width and style (underhand or overhand) to change the stimulus of the exercise to emphasize different parts of the triceps and shoulders.

4. Pike Push Up (BEGINNER)

pike press

Pike push up is one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do to develop your lateral deltoids!

Pike push up will also develop the anterior shoulders, traps and triceps. For achieving the full handstand push up, pike push up is one of the best progressions you can do.

It's possible to do the exercise on the floor but then the range of motion is rather limited. Parallel bars allow you to dive deep which makes the pike push up a lot more effective thanks to the increased range of motion.

5. Single Leg Push Up (BEGINNER)

single leg push up

The basic push up is already an excellent exercise but you can make it a lot harder by raising one leg up. P-bars also increase the range of motion.

When one of your legs is elevated, you will emphasize more one side at the time and also work more on your core stability (anti-rotation). The gluteus maximus muscle is also worked because it keeps the leg up!

Don't dismiss the value of the push up - it's an exercise that will never get old. It's part of the very basics that should always be part of your training routine. 

If the basic push up feels too simple, apply the slow tempo principle and you will realize how challenging and effective the exercise can be.

6. L-Sit Freestyle (INTERMEDIATE)

L sit freestyle L-sit

L-sit is an impressive gymnastics skill that is achievable by almost everyone. L-sit will primarily work the core, hip flexors and triceps.

Here we are doing L-sit freestyle with different leg raises. These leg raises will effectively work the hip flexors and many other hip muscles, but the core also needs to work harder to stabilize the body.

In case you are interested in learning the L-sit (or even the higher V-sit), full progressions and required mobility drills are part of Movement 20XX course.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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