Insane Bodyweight Workout With Just a Pull-Up Bar

Upper-Body Strength, Minimal Equipment

Bodyweight Workout: The Calisthenics Complex

You can build an incredibly strong upper body with nothing but a well-designed bodyweight workout. In fact, you can do it with just a few exercises and a pull-up bar. When you learn and master the basics, you realize the basics are all you really need.

Check out this calisthenics complex. It'll train every muscle in your upper body and leave you with an insane pump:

  • Bar Muscle-Up
  • Bar Dip
  • Strict Pull-Up
  • Strict Toes-to-Bar

If you already have a respectable level of upper-body relative strength, aim to complete this complex unbroken. If you want to make it more challenging, increase the number of reps on each movement.

Do 3-5 sets of the complex with the goal of adding reps or sets over time to increase volume. This complex will fatigue your entire upper body, so rest 3-5 minutes between sets to ensure proper recovery.

Hey, I Can't Do That Yet!

Yes, I'm aware this is an advanced complex and that most people will lack the requisite strength to do it. (Remember, I've been doing these movements for over ten years!)

If you're at the beginner or intermediate level, just scale down the movements and reps to your current ability level. Here's what that could look like:

Beginner Level

Start with a rep range you're comfortable with and gradually increase reps week to week:

  • Strict Pull-Up Or Band-Assisted Pull-Up
  • Bar Dip
  • Strict Hanging Leg Raise
  • Perfect Push-Up

Intermediate Level

  • Kipping Bar Muscle-Up Or Chest-To-Bar Pull-Up
  • Bar Dip
  • Strict Pull-Up
  • Strict Toes-To-Bar

Start with a rep range you're comfortable with and gradually increase reps as time goes on.

Once you master the beginner and intermediate levels, you'll possess the requisite strength to perform the actual complex. I recommend performing these strict upper-body movements 2-4 times a week at a minimum.

There are no shortcuts to building strength. It takes time. But if you consistently perform these basic exercises while gradually increasing volume, you'll undoubtedly build a strong and muscular physique.

Tanner Shuck is a former Division 1A football player and accomplished CrossFit athlete. He specializes in competitive fitness, with emphasis on training absolute and relative strength. Tanner is an online coach and personal trainer based out of Dubai, UAE. Follow on Instagram