How effective is a routine consisting entirely of push-ups and pull-ups for the upper body (excluding abs)? Does the volume matter for the answer to this question? Thank you.

  • 2
    Compared to a solid barbell training program? It's terrible. Compared to doing nothing at all? It's awesome. You should post your goals and what you're trying to accomplish.
    – Eric
    Jan 24 '18 at 5:37
  • Like @EricKaufman said, compared to what other style of working out? And what are your goals?
    – MJB
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:03
  • Thanks, I agree that I was not clear enough. I only do bodyweight exercises, and only have a desk and a door as equipment. I just increase the volume periodically, and at least know that I can do 65 push-ups in a row. I want to know if a push-up/pull-up routine works all of the important muscles well enough.
    – CMK
    Jan 24 '18 at 12:21
  • Well enough for what? To survive? To win mr Olympia?
    – Raditz_35
    Jan 24 '18 at 16:45
  • @Raditz_35 Basically, I want to know if it targets all of the major upper-body muscles.
    – CMK
    Jan 24 '18 at 21:43

Pushup and pullup workouts essentially cover all upper body muscle groups. When you are designing a workout plan the keys are looking for "pull" exercises and "push" exercises while incorporating core and legs.

Push exercises work typically on your chest and tricep muscles and pull exercises work on the back and bicep muscles. Pullups and pushups have lots of variations that can provide isolation to different muscle groups. Here are pushup variations and here are some pullup variations.

The advantages of weight training over are isolation and it can be a little faster but you can get similar results for bodyweight exercises.

Either way whether weekend warrior or pro athlete bodyweight alone is still effective. There are plenty of testimonials you can look online to show that bodyweight exercise is effective.

Just gonna throw out some personal experience here: I have had good luck with Nike Training Club and Freeletics. They both have bodyweight variations that are quite effective and cover all muscle groups.

  • Thank you. I have been using bodyweight solely for around three years now, and I have seen great results. Do you think that pull-ups would be enough for the forearms, though? Thanks again.
    – CMK
    Jan 26 '18 at 1:40
  • Yeah they will help with that but you can also look at rice buckets Jan 27 '18 at 18:06
  • Could you use sand instead of rice?
    – CMK
    Jan 28 '18 at 20:56
  • @CMK Probably but I think the consistency and weight of rice is key but I'm not sure. Jan 29 '18 at 16:45

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