Whether you do not have the money for a gym membership, don't want to travel or go to a gym, don't have a local gym, or just think calisthenics looks cool, you somehow got into calisthenics. Later down the road, you find yourself performing more and more reps....but you have not gained any size. After endless Google searches with hardly any luck, you find yourself losing hope that you can build an amazing physique with calisthenics. If you find yourself in the scenario above....or you just want to give calisthenics a try, this article is for you! In this article I will be discussing many ways of improving your calisthenic experience in order to achieve the body that you desire!
More Reps Is Not Always The Answer
Time and time again I see the same thing! Fitness enthusiasts are promoting the increase of repetitions or time (during hiit training) without increasing any sort of resistance. This is perfectly fine for conditioning, but we aren't here for conditioning, we are here for some MASS! As you get further and further away from the moderate repetition range (6-15 repetition), you begin to build muscular endurance....not muscle mass. So, if your routine is focused on just more repetitions, it's time to reevaluate your work out routine.
It seems like a no-brainer when you work out with free-weights, but with calisthenics I find that people forget the easiest concept to getting bigger and stronger. Adding external resistance is PERFECT for improving your results from calisthenics. If you find yourself adding more than 15 repetitions to a particular exercise, it's time to add 10-20lbs to that given exercise and work with that weight until you start performing 15 again (may take a few sessions or weeks to add weight depending on your level and if it's strength increase or just motor skill development).
There is absolutely nothing wrong with struggling during a body-weight exercise. For some reason people shy away from harder variations. I know countless individuals who can perform endless repetitions when it comes to push-ups, but will not perform parallel bar dips due to they're difficulty. Why do 5 dips if 20 push-ups is easier for you? If that's your logic, it's time to change that mentality and perform harder variations/exercises to provide a greater stimulus.
Calisthenics is not just a form of exercise, it's a skill. Pull-ups are harder than lat-pulldowns not just because of the weight, but also because of the need for spacial awareness and stability/full body tension. In order to develop any given skill what do you do? You practice! Calisthenics is no difference. In order to improve your results, you need to get better at the skills required for the movements you are wanting to progress. If you are performing one "back day" once a week, try performing a back work out twice or even three times a week in order to improving your calisthenic ability. To start perform half your back work out on one of the days and the other half on the other. Over time, increase the amount of sets/exercises per session based on your recovery.
Treat It Like Weight Lifting
The final tip on how to build muscle with calisthenics is to, in general, just treat it just like weight lifting. Work on the muscle (not just moving from A to B), control the movement, progressive overload, stimulate the muscle often, and eat to grow. It's just THAT SIMPLE!
Building an outstanding physique with calisthenics alone is not as hard as people make it out to be. In order to build muscle with calisthenics you must keep in mind that more repetitions is not always the answer, you must add resistance to or increase the difficulty of an exercise, a higher frequency approach is better for skill mastery, and treating calisthenics like weight lifting gives you a better perception of how your routine should be.
Building muscle in the fresh air, warm sun, and budget friendly setting has never been this easy!