The burning question is can you build muscle with calisthenics?
There is very little in this world that can escape the push and pull of changing trends – and muscle building workouts are no exception.
For the last decade, gyms up and down the country have been filled with pumped-up guys, worshiping at the altar of the bench press and the dumbbell rack.
Yet, what happens if you turn up for your session and there is a queue of prople hogging the rack? What if you cannot make it to the gym at all?
Your living situation might temporarily change and you don’t have access to a gym anymore, you might have a hard month and have to cancel your membership outright, or you might have a 2020 situation where the gyms close down.
Are you supposed to just let those hard-won gains go to waste?
Of course not – men built mass before the invention of sophisticated gym machines and they can still do it now. In fact, this more organic way of building muscle (commonly referred to as bodyweight training or calisthenics) has slowly grown in popularity over the last five years.
There are now more guys choosing to trust their bodies and acquire mass the natural way.
Whilst weight training with apparatus is certainly not a bad way to sculpt and tone the chest, arms, and back, a narrow emphasis on assisted training often leads to a physicality that is overly reliant on a limited range of forms.
Alternatively, calisthenics (or bodyweight training), which tones and shapes, via strength training without weights, encourages the body to become flexible, supple, incredibly strong under pressure.
Can you Build Muscle with Calisthenics?
The real power in calisthenics training lies with the fact that it focuses on movements that involve multiple muscles.
It does not try to pick out and strengthen separate muscle groups. This is something that can feel rather alien to anybody who is unfamiliar with bodyweight exercises, but its value quickly becomes clear when trying to learn how to master tricky moves like the one arm pull up.
Clearly, one arm pull-ups are going to require super strong arms and laterals, but it needs more than this.
In fact, it cannot be done without the ability to regulate strength and tension across the whole of the body.
This is what calisthenics does; it involves the whole body as a cohesive unit, order to create balanced and even centers of mass.
Calisthenics for the Abs
The best calisthenics ‘projects’ begin right at the center. This is important because, in order to use your own weight as a tool, you first need to train your abs to withstand the pressure –
Calisthenics routines always rely on abs. It will start to show after a couple of months too, so keep that end goal in mind if the work feels intimidating.
The windshield wiper and the hanging leg raise are both great moves for working the abs.
In fact, any kind of bar work is bound to be valuable. The classic bar move puts pressure on the serratus anterior, so it produces visible changes within the torso very quickly.
If you want that killer serratus edge and a six-pack to die for, this is the way to go.
Calisthenics for the Arms
This is one of the main areas that people who ask the question of can you build muscle with calisthenics are concerned with, the arms.
To start making gains in this area, you do not even have to switch up your moves all that much – bar work happens to be great for arms too, especially biceps.
The truth is that your arms are going to get a more solid workout from chin-up reps than they are curls, so keep using your own weight as a tool and trust the natural way.
There is a wide range of different moves that you could try here; everything from overhand pull ups to underhand chins, the thick bar, the switch grip, and pulling up from anything which is strong enough to take your weight.
After a few weeks, you will notice an incredible increase in tensile capacity. You might start to look a bit like Popeye too, what with those arms.
Calisthenics for the Chest and Back
It should come as no surprise to find that extremely broad laterals are a real sign of an accomplished calisthenics built physique.
And now to the big boss of calisthenics; the classic push up. It remains one of the finest and most efficient unassisted bodyweight movements.
However, too many guys are tempted to just get to grips with the boring old signature push-up.
Take things further and make it exciting. You should always remember that if it is easy, your body is not working as hard as it should.
Putting Together the Right Calisthenics Routine
The following three day split calisthenics routine is a fairly basic one, but it will encourage the growth of new muscle.
It can be performed with the use of exterior added weights, or you can go solo and pump it out unassisted – the choice is yours.
Also, you can make the routine harder, if you need to, by altering the incline of push-ups, restricting points of contact with the ground like elevating one leg off the floor while doing a push-up, and expanding the range of motion, in order to definitively answer the question ‘Can you build muscle with calisthenics?’
Workout One: Pushing Movements + Core:
|Weighted Push-up||3||8-12||90 secs|
|Handstand Push-up||3||8-12||90 secs|
|Hanging Leg Raise||3||12-15||90 secs|
|Windshield Wipers||3||12-15||90 secs|
Workout Two: Pulling Movements + Core:
|Neutral grip pull-up||3||8-12||90 secs|
Workout Three: Legs and Conditioning:
|100-meter Sprint||–||3||150 secs|
|50m run – 50m walk||2||5||240 secs|
|Pistol squats||3||5-8||150 secs|
|Jump squats||3||7-10||90 secs|
|Jump lunges (left)||3||7-10||90 secs|
|Jump lunges (right)||3||7-10||90 secs|
Can you build muscle with calisthenics?
You definitely can. Try these workouts out, remain consistent and you will see results.
We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed on this site are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, the site may earn a small commission.