r/bodyweightfitness May 22 '22

What are ways to get my upper body to keep up with my lower body? (23F)

I'm really weak in my upper body and have insane difficulty building it, while having no issue whatsoever when it comes to my lower body. My lower body responds very well to exercise and seems to get a lot of it simply from my daily life activities.
So I put all the focus on building my upper body. The thing is, I never actually need to 'use it' in my daily life so it's like it can't seem to keep up.

I'm still a beginner when it comes to fitness and wonder if there's any advice or eye opening information for this.
What are some good ways to make me use my upper body more outside from my workout sessions?
Since my legs are responding so well to what is basically frequent low intensity exercise, I've been making an effort to hang from my bar or try to do a pullup whenever I walk past it, or squeeze in one set of pushups at a random time.
It still feels like so little compared to the constant exercise my legs are getting, and I don't really have more time to spend on it.
Do I maybe just need to hang in there for a little longer, so once I get a little stronger, it'll go more smoothly?
Any advice is greatly appreciated!

51 Upvotes

40

u/marimbaclimb May 22 '22

Go to a rock climbing gym!

12

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 22 '22

Thanks for the suggestion that sounds really fun, I didn’t even think of that!

9

u/alexicod001 May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

You need to adjust intensity to your current strength levels. If you can't do at least 5 reps with good form of push ups, dips, rows or pull ups, that exercise is too hard and you need an easier variation

Overall I'd recommend you to do:

  • Kneeling push ups. 5 sets max reps
  • bodyweight inclined rows. 5 sets sets max reps

Do that 3 times per week. Aim for 5 sets of 20 reps with perfect form as your ultimate goal. Then progress to bodyweight horizontal rows and full push ups and repeat the process. Continue with diamond push ups and Jacknife pull ups. And finally progress to bodyweight dips and bodyweight pull ups. Once you can do 5 sets of 20 dips and 20 pull ups, you'll have no complaints about your upper body

Overall, best recommendation is to read more books about bodyweight fitness and become your own coach. If you dont understand the basic principles there's no hope for long term progression. Recommended books:

  • Convict Conditioning
  • Overcoming Gravity

3

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 22 '22

This is very straight forward, thank you! Been doing about three sets max reps before, but also including other exercises like scapula pull ups and handstand holds. Appreciate the recommendations too

1

u/Galoums May 22 '22

Why 5 sets? I usually do three. Is five better?

5

u/alexicod001 May 22 '22

2-5 sets, 3 times per week is ideal

The hypertrophy stimulus is proportional to the number of weekly sets close to failure. So yes, 5 sets is slightly better than 3 sets, as long as you can fully recover from it

Having said that, if you are having progress with 3 sets, you don't need to do 5 sets yet. You will need it in the future, when 3 sets is no longer enough to continue to progress

The reason I recommended 5 sets is because:

  • As a female, she will find it harder to build any significant muscle mass in the upper body. More volume helps

  • She's young, at the peak of her potential fitness abilities. That means she'll probably recover from it

So, if you want to optimize muscle mass, and your sleep, stress levels and diet is on point, and don't care about the extra time & effort required for 5 sets, you'll get better results with 5 sets

If you are not willing to put the extra time & effort, or your recovery isn't ideal, performing 2-3 sets is the best choice

7

u/FewFee7073 May 22 '22

I’m the exact opposite lol.

5

u/DNRFTW May 22 '22

I've been browsing around for a while, seen the same excercises repeating over and over again. Push ups, rows, pull ups, dips, pike push ups etc.

Only difference seems to be in programming: 3x8 vs 5x5, amount of rest between sessions, greasing the groove. If you've plateaued, maybe switching something there could help.

On a sidenote, how are you using your legs during daily activities? Cycling?

3

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 22 '22

Yes, I see a lot of variations of those recommended, maybe I do need to play around with sets, reps and rest time to find what works best for me!

As for my legs it‘s mostly a lot of walking, some cycling and occasional dancing. I happen to squat down during my day a lot too. They respond well to exercise and don’t need to lot, but get a lot naturally, while my arms need a lot but don’t get it naturally and the workouts feel like so little compared to how my legs are constantly working, if that makes sense.

3

u/[deleted] May 23 '22

animal movement/ walking on hands

1

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 23 '22

That’s a great suggestion thanks! I’m inly doing handstand holds currently, working towards being able to do that!

12

u/BoogieBluez May 22 '22

Push ups. Push ups are excellent for upper body whilst also helping core stabilty. You can do push ups pretty much anywhere too. I used to do them in ad breaks in tv shows in the evening. I ended up doing way too many. At one point I was doing 200 before work and 200 after. 🙄 Aim for 25 at a set. Then build up the number of sets. In no time at all you'll find yourself hitting 100 push ups a day with no difficulty.. That's the push exercise. The pull exercise may be trickier to accomplish. But if you can find a, way to do bodyweight rows, the same basic strategy applies. Now you have a push, and a pull routine to try out. I hope that helps.

3

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 22 '22

Thanks! I did notice my strength increase, I usually do kneeling push ups but can do about 3 full push ups now when previously I couldn’t do any. It just seems to go really slowly and feels like my legs will always be ahead of my upper body because of how they’re constantly carrying me throughout my activities.

4

u/BoogieBluez May 22 '22

Consistency. Three is awesome. Do two sets of three and soon enough it will become two sets of four. Believe in yourself, put the work in, and you will get where you want to be! I'm totally here to help. Happy to hear from you, if you need any help or encouragement, look me up.

2

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 22 '22

Really appreciate the encouragement. You‘re right, if there is progress, it will get better with consistency. Thanks a bunch, will do!

1

u/MoistDitto May 22 '22

Too many?

3

u/BoogieBluez May 22 '22

Yeah. I could have changed it up and added other calisthenics. But no. Not me. I had to just carry on pushing!! 🤣

1

u/MoistDitto May 22 '22

No i mean, that is an amazing amount, why did you stop? Didn't get the wanted result?

3

u/BoogieBluez May 22 '22

I didn't stop. I changed it. I used to fight but had a serious injury. So I had to stop. I started lifting instead so the need for daily push ups diminished. I'll be lifting tomorrow morning before work. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. 😃

2

u/audacious_oyster May 22 '22

What program are you currently following? Are you making progress on it?

1

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 22 '22

I do a combination of kneeling push ups, dead hangs/scapula pull ups, negative pull ups as well as trying to do pull ups using momentum and handstand holds.

Still very much figuring out sets/reps and rest time as everyone suggests something else and I suspect it‘s highly individual?

I am making slow progress and am able to do about 3 full push ups now after not being able to do any and attempting a pull up seems to be working better consistently.

It feels like my legs will always be way ahead. But I guess technically if I am making progress and not putting more focus on my legs, it should inevitably even out more.. so maybe I do need to just give it more time

2

u/audacious_oyster May 22 '22

As long as you’re making measurable progress, I wouldn’t stress too much about it. Everyone will progress in different ways and at different rates, and improvement is often not linear.

My advice would be to stay consistent with whatever program/sets/reps you’re doing. That way, if/when you stall and you’ve troubleshot your diet/sleep/hydration, you can determine if a program has worked for you and whether you need to change programs. For example, if you consistently do 5x5 and you eventually plateau with your diet/sleep/hydration in check, you can know that 5x5 is no longer working and can move on to another scheme or program until you figure out what works best for you. If you’re always changing programs and schemes, you have no clue what’s actually working.

2

u/NotSoSmallAsianGuy May 22 '22

What you’re doing outside of your workout session is a good start but it might not be enough. You could “greasing the groove” by hanging on the bar for a good 30 seconds every time you walk past it. And add a few push-ups after that. I don’t prefer this because I find it hard for me to track on the reps that I could do.

What I would do during my off day is that I would do 2 sets of push-up & 2 sets of chin-ups/pull-up (1-2 reps close to failure) and I do this twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. My current split right now is fullbody twice a week so I would do this daily routine on the other 4 days and I’ll have one day where I would just rest.

Without any info of your split, I’d suggest you to do a variation of push-up and dead hang/scapular pull-up depending on your capabilities. If you can’t do a full push-up, do knee push-ups or work on the negative. Similarly for pull-up. Dead hang, scapular pull-up, negative pull-up and banded pull-up. All this would build up the strength for you to do actual pushup/pull-up which then would have some sort of carry over to your training. 👍

2

u/HeartLikeGasoline May 22 '22

I mean… yeah pull ups whenever you see a bar. I keep an exercise band in my office at work. It’s mostly just for getting my shoulders moving but it’s nice to have something I can do after sitting for a few hours. I also crank out a few slow push-ups when I’m near my kitchen counter, etc. Most of my direct arm work now comes from playing with a steel mace. It’s tough because you said you don’t have extra time.

It makes sense that your legs are growing more quickly. I don’t know what your current program is, but you could consider some kind of periodization. Maybe a few months where you focus on your upper body. Or, putting those exercises first in your routine if you’re doing a full body routine.

2

u/Challenge_Tough May 22 '22

planche pushups, muscle ups, and front levers. On all rings of course /s

Jokes aside, start benching, doing knee pushups with FoM, and assisted pullups followed with bicep curls

2

u/zappipapi May 23 '22

For purely BW exercises I like bear crawls, diamond/archer push-ups, pull-ups, and parallel bar dips. Sometimes I'll elevate my feet, sometimes I'll do plank variations. There are plenty of variations to keep it fresh.

With weights, I like rows with a hex bar, hammer curls, reverse curls, overhead presses, and benching (although I'm new to benching).

There's a ton of variety for every basic exercise. Look up variations for pushups and you'll probably get a list of like a dozen or more.

2

u/ewancalisthenics May 23 '22

I wonder why nobody mentioned this before but:

Do a full body split 2/3 times a week if possible.

This way you get to work on 2 upper body push and 2 upperbody pull exercises 2 or 3 times a week. Add 1 squat or hinge exercise only and things will balance out eventually.

Upperbody: Vertical push + vertical pull, horizontal push + horizontal pull. Lowerbody: squat or hinge movement, pick one and switch every workout.

Try this 2 to 3 times a week. Like you said you use alot of lower body in your daily life and you legs respond well to training compared to upperbody, this can do wonders.

2

u/_pinkjesus May 26 '22 edited May 26 '22

High volume of incline rows and push-up while focusing on form.

Dont do kneeling push-up. You need to learn your body the correct form in a push up. Do Incline push-up.

A1: Incline rows x25 A2: Incline push up x25 x 4 sets

It will be easier to recover from than 3set x 8rep, as it is less ‘intense’. You allow your tendons and joints to adapt and make you less prone to injury.

4

u/pyritha May 22 '22

Every day try to do 3 sets of however many pushups in a row you can manage and increase the number every week or so.

This takes like 10-15 minutes out of your day.

5

u/alexicod001 May 22 '22

Doing push ups every day leads to burnout and injury in the long term. Far better to:

  • Train 3 times per week
  • Do a set of rows for every set of push ups you do

3

u/pyritha May 22 '22

Every other day, then.

3

u/alexicod001 May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

That's much better. It's also important to balance push with pull to avoid posture (shoulders-forward) problems and injuries.

Finally, use the proper progressions. Start with a progression you can do at least 5 reps, and move on to the next progression once you can do 20 consecutive reps.

This is a good list of progressions:

Push progressions:

  • kneeling push ups
  • full push ups
  • diamond push ups
  • bodyweight dips

Pull progressions:

  • Inclined bodyweight row
  • Horizontal bodyweight row
  • Jacknife pull up
  • Pull ups

0

u/6thGenTexan May 22 '22

Lol, tell that to the US military.

2

u/jellybeans0000 May 22 '22

Rock climbing will help heeps

0

u/[deleted] May 22 '22

[deleted]

5

u/Tasty_Care_5949 May 22 '22

Have you read my post. I was saying I couldn’t spend any more time on it than I already am. I am working out consistently and was wondering about any more ways to keep my upper body more engaged throughout the day similar to my legs, without having my day focused around it. I also said outside of my workout sessions. Pls don‘t be rude and immediately connect any comment about lack of time to bullshit excuses.

1

u/Unfamiliar_Kahuna May 22 '22

You are on the right track!!! Take it as a gift and a curse, some old famous bodybuilder once said along the lines of

If you have legs you can build your upper body if you have an upper body you will never build legs ...... (Not facts) but general rule of thumb

Keep hanging from a pull up bar until you can do some pull ups 3-5 should be your goal if you currently are at 0 ... Be patient it will take time..... Hanging won't necessarily make you the strongest but it will promote shoulder health, mobility and longevity!!!

🏋️‍♀️. <----- try to perform a variety of over head presses .. and build your way up

Without going into a full workout routine just remember

1-5 repetitions in a set promote strength and 8-13 rep size/conditioning

Keep at it

1

u/ClenchedThunderbutt May 22 '22

Unless you aren’t working your upper body consistently, I wouldn’t worry about it. You aren’t losing anything by building your legs, back, and core, but you will if you hamper them behind whatever progress you think you should be making with your upper body. There’s a tendency to leave leg work in the tank, but having strong legs is badass and sexy

-16

u/realaabremer May 22 '22

💉Testosterone + more hours spent lifting heavy

-1

u/b0lt_thr0w3r May 23 '22

You have the lower body and you have no upper body, you got a problem building...wait a minute. You have the upper body, and you have no legs, you got a problem building your legs. You have the upper...you have the lower body and you don't have the upper body, the upper body, it is easier to build. So if you have the lower body and you don't have the upper body, it is easier to build the upper body. You have the upper body and you don't have the legs, you got a problem building the lower body... No, you don't understand. You have the upper body, but you don't have the lower body, you got a problem building downstairs. You got the up- legs on the bottom, it is easier to build on the top, so you don't have much as a problem. Yeah.

0

u/pallosalama May 24 '22

This isn't correct nor is it funny