The Questions Is: How do I build a bigger upper body using only bodyweight exercises, and what are the exercises?
Building a bigger upper body using bodyweight exercises is 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 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) The actual exercises you are going to use
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 and Frequency Of Workouts – 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.
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 bodyweight exercises for the upper body when it comes to getting bigger are the ones that allow you to move the most weight through the biggest range of movement. These exercises are:
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.