Many claim that calisthenics is not ideal for muscle growth.
I laugh when anyone says that and immediately smell the ignorance in the air.
Those people have never done serious calisthenics training. Only inexperienced individuals can claim that bullshit argument.
I know from my experience that calisthenics is a great way to gain strength and muscle size.
Using your body weight absolutely can build just as much muscle as pumping iron.
Currently, I haven’t touched any weight for a long time. That does not bother me at all, because I am a free man. I know how to use my body and environment to have a great workout. Most bodyweight exercises are in my arsenal and they wait for me to use them.
Why would you start calisthenics?
8 IMPORTANT REASONS TO START CALISTHENICS
First thing first, we must understand why it is vital for you to start this journey. Later, we will get into how you will develop that crazy strength
Once you understand the “why”, you will implement the strategies as a piece of cake.
Here are your 8 dear lovely reasons for starting calisthenics.
1) You Discover Yourself With Calisthenics
Every man must be capable of mastering his body first.
When you start discovering your body and its capabilities, you start your journey of self-mastery. It gives you such a great pleasure to learn what you can do with your body.
You witness impossible moves that are possible through hard work, obsession, and dedication. It totally boosts your confidence levels in all aspects of life.
You respect your body more and take care of it better in your journey.
2) Calisthenics Set You Free
You are not attached to a gym and that is a big advantage. It is possible to have a great workout anytime and anywhere.
Calisthenics will set you free.
Freedom is a great virtue to have for any person regardless of their situation. There have been many times in my life that I did not have access to a gym. However, I was completely cool with that.
Also, you enjoy the environment and nature. You get the benefit of sunshine with lots of oxygen.
This is a great asset you can have for having a perfect lifestyle.
3) Calisthenics Increase Overall Strength
Bodyweight exercises require more muscle activation in general.
The muscles work in a perfect cooperative way to operate natural movement patterns such as pulling, pushing, jumping.
The by-products are amazing. For example, your core automatically gets strong by practicing the bodyweight movement.
Core muscles are actively working to stabilize your body. That’s why most bodyweight athletes have well-developed six-pack muscles.
Let’s say you do push-ups. Unlike standard bench press, staying in a push-up position requires core activation.
When doing pull-ups, the forearms can develop just hanging on the bar long enough. So, you don’t have to worry about a lack of muscle development or imbalances.
It gives you the opportunity to make healthier overall progress.
4) Calisthenics Is Fun
Practicing new skills and learning new techniques by discovering your body is a lot of fun.
Calisthenics exercises are all-natural movements and they have a place in life. They are mostly used in many sports.
It triggers the dopamine activation in your brain to experience new skills. It’s like opening new achievements in a video game. You can be creative as much as you wish.
When you have fun doing anything, it’s easier to become better at it.
Bodyweight exercises are addictive but that’s a good addiction. When I see a pull-up bar, I can’t help myself but immediately hang, doing some pull-ups and muscle-ups.
You get a sense of pleasure every time you practice and make progress.
After all, that’s your body and you explore its capabilities. What could be better than this?
5) Calisthenics Is Impressive
Especially advanced movements in calisthenics are very impressive.
If you are someone bangs out reps on one arm pull-ups, muscle-ups, or handstand push-ups, it is no surprise to hear a lot of “Wow!”.
Because everyone can understand the strength behind it and they can relate to it.
You can’t impress a kid with a barbell squat or deadlift, but they can understand the difficulty of calisthenics movements
Actually, bodyweight exercises are universal. All people of any age, race, or ethnicity will understand them.
People automatically respect a person who can control his body and master these difficult movements.
You definitely become a more impressive person after mastering calisthenics.
6) Calisthenics is Functional
The strength you gain from bodyweight training can be transferred easily. It does not matter whether you run, jump or fight.
If you decide to practice any sport, you start with great fundamental strength. All these movements have been practiced in multiple sports.
You instantly become a better performer in whatever you do. That gives you the edge to excel in your daily activities.
Do you go to a dancing club? Okay, you are more flexible, strong and mobile. You can pick anyone up easily, you have great coordination and balance. It’s easier for you to adapt to difficult moves.
You play football with your friends at the weekend? You have a better cardiovascular capacity and your strength is decent. Did anyone challenge you for arm wrestling? You got strong forearms developed by countless pull-ups.
Have you invited to a Tenis game? Your forehand strike will be much powerful.
Did you start martial arts? Your punches will be more powerful. You will perform better in their training.
In all physical tests, you will perform better and this is inevitable.
7) Calisthenics Increase Flexibility & Mobility
The flexibility and mobility are also gained as a by-product of practicing calisthenics movements.
These two are crucial for you to have an injury-free life because they help you to move and perform better. As a result, your overall well-being increase and you live happier.
Being strong, mobile and flexible will provide a more sustainable training carrier.
That is why these are important components of a great lifestyle.
8) Calisthenics Burn Fat Effortlessly
You get lean effortlessly with calisthenics.
Bodyweight movements demand more cardiovascular capacity because they include more muscle activation.
That means you raise your heart rate even without being aware of it. Calisthenics is a great way to have a heart-pumping cardio session.
This is why bodyweight athletes are generally super lean and aesthetic. To perform those hard movements your body needs to drop that extra fat to make you lighter. The lighter you are, the better you perform.
How To Progress Fast In Calisthenics
It might seem frightening to achieve very advanced movements. However, when you cut big things into little pieces, it gets easier.
You don’t have to learn advanced movements right away, but you can perform what your current physique allows you.
It is going to be a long-ass road, be prepared. But, the rewards are amazing.
#1) Master Basics First
This is the #1 element of calisthenics and it is always going to be.
You can not advance without mastering basics first. Most people neglect fundamentals and all they do is delaying their progress. 3 fundamental exercises in calisthenics: Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, and Squats
These are going to be your foundation. All movements are derived from mastering these three.
Push-ups build the basics of chest, triceps and front deltoids. Pull-ups build the foundation of your back, biceps, rear deltoids. Squats handle the lower portion of your body.
How good you are with these movements are the decisive factor between Victory and Loss.
These are the movements that you learn how to apply force properly. You learn the right technique and not to injure yourself. Your muscles learn to work properly.
Every movement you will do in calisthenics is some variations of these three.
“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”
– Michael Jordan
It’s easy as that. Are you good at these or not? No more questions needed.
2) Always Progress
Push-ups, pull-ups, and squats have many variations.
There is no excuse as I can’t do them. Never use the word “can’t”. We will always say “We can” and we are going to prove that to ourselves.
That’s what it’s all about.
There are many easy variations of them. Just find the proper variation.
You can’t do push-ups? Do them on your knees first, then progress. You can’t do pull-ups? Do, inverted rows and soon you will bang out pull up reps.
Oh, these are too easy for you? I always hear the meat-head guy trash talking about bodyweight movements in the gym.
They are too easy, ha?
Tell that guy to perform one arm pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and muscle-ups. Watch him run away immediately.
Bodyweight movements are another world to discover. Just be able to see the gold in them.
3) Perform Negative Reps
Negative reps are the most important part of muscle hypertrophy.
Your muscles have no idea how much weight you are lifting, they only respond to the -time under tension-
The slower you do the rep, there will be more time under tension, AKA GAINS.
Especially if you are a beginner, good form and slow negative reps are vital for you.
They can help anyone regardless of their situation.
I personally use them very often.
Right now, I can’t do one-arm pull-ups, yet. But guess what? I can do them negatively. It’s the same motion and the same motor units. Your body learns the movement in this way.
Picture: Me Performing OAP Negatives
You are much stronger on the negative side and you can’t control the reps in this way. Take advantage of using negative reps in your workouts. Reap the benefits and thank me later.
4) Static Holds
Static holds are the most underrated training style in the word.
These are also called isometric exercises. Basically, your body stays in a static position during the exercises.
Everyone is focused on just doing the reps, no one cares the controlling the motion. If you can’t control the movement, it controls you.
3 main benefits of static holds:
- Achieve passing the sticking points
- Learning which muscles to activate in certain angles
- Being able to control the movements
Isometric training is more popular in core exercises such as the plank, L-sit hold, front lever.
Picture: Me Performing L-sit Hold
But, you can use them in every exercise to make it harder. Add static holds in your pull-ups, especially in your sticking points. Same for the push-ups and dips.
Calisthenics legends use statics holds a lot. Zef Zakaveli always adds pauses and statics holds into his routine. And guess what? He’s a freak athlete.
–Click here to watch workout footage of the legend Zef Zakaveli
5) Use Unilateral Exercises
Picture: Me Performing One Arm Push Ups
Unilateral exercises create some magic. You think you mastered the movement? Wait, you haven’t met single variations.
This is where the freak and regular person draw apart. When the exercises get easier, start to do them by using a single body part.
For example, push-ups started to feel easy for you. Try to do them with a single arm. Pull-ups are too easy? Do them with a single arm. Squats are too easy? Do them with a single leg.
The transition process might be hard because unilateral exercises put too much tension on one side of our body.
However, we never complain, we produce solutions.
Here some tips:
Get support from your other hand until you get strong enough. You can use only your fingers to decrease the support of your hand. You can also use elastic bands to decrease tension until you get used to movements.
Find whatever helps you and keep doing it. That’s how success comes. You are going to keep doing it until you achieve it.
6) Add Explosiveness
Once you learn the movement, you will start to do them explosively.
You learn to stand, then walk, after that you start to run and sprint. When you get better at basics, it gets easier to do them faster.
When you bang out 15-20 reps pull-ups, you will be ready for muscle-ups. If you do 20-30 reps push-ups, try adding clapping push-ups to your routine.
Doing the movements explosively is a great way to make your routine harder.
Explosive moves will make you a complete athlete.
7) Add Weight
Your body weight is more than enough to produce amazing results.
However, if your goal is to be a freak, just use some additional weight.
This method is often used by calisthenics athletes and it is called weighted calisthenics.
How to add weight?
You need some equipment. Do not be intimidated by adding weight. It can be just a bottle of water first. Progress slowly, but progress.
Important Equipment List:
Backpack: The easiest way to add weight is backpack because everyone has one. Just find some objects to fill in such as a bottle of water, books, even dumbbells.
Weight Belt: It’s good to keep tracking your strength gains for the long term. If you are serious about training, you have to get one.
A partner: Your partner can create resistance for you. For example, let your partner lay down on your back doing push-ups. If that’s too much, tell him to just push from you on the shoulder blades.
Picture: Me performing godlike weighted push-ups.
Same for the pull-ups. Let someone hang from your waist. If that’s too much find a smaller person, a kid maybe.
Weight West: A weight west is a very comfortable way to add resistance because the weight distribution is equal on your body. Hence, these are expensive. I don’t blame you if you don’t buy one.
Ankle Weights: I do not suggest them to use while running or jumping because of the injury issues. Hence, they are very effective for core exercises. You can perform harder leg raises and dragon flag variations by using them.
Elastic Bands: Bands are another great method to increase the resistance. They add a different kind of tension since they store potential energy.
8) Keep Track Of The Time
How quick you finish the routine is a good indicator of your progress.
Have a number in your head, for example, 100 pull-ups. Keep the time and find out how quickly you finish 100 reps. Next workout, try to beat your old record.
Even the most basic exercises can be very challenging when you do them without the rest. This is also very time-efficient. You can have an intense workout session in such small periods.
- Just as anything, bodyweight training requires time and consistency.
You can spend a month just for the sake of learning a movement. Be patient and never quit.
- Focus on developing your strength and always progress. Once you gained strength, it is much easier to maintain it.
- Do not rush, be sure you have mastered the movement before move onto a more challenging one.
- When your body gets used to certain movements, you need to go out of the traditional methods. Do not be afraid to try new exercises and harder variations. (Beast Mode crew is the best example for pushing the limits.)
Congratulations, you just graduated from How To Be A Calisthenics Freak 101.
The rest is up to you, my friend. There is nothing can stop you besides yourself.
Add calisthenics in your workout arsenal and become unstoppable.
Train everywhere, whenever you wish.