Do Calisthenics Build Muscle? A Simple Yes or No (Academically)

Man with tribal tattoos is doing a calisthenics dip exercise to build his muscle

Do Calisthenics build muscle? Can you get big with Calisthenics? How long does it take to build muscle with Calisthenics? These and other related questions revolving around the subject of building muscle with Calisthenics lie at the forefront of seemingly everyone’s mind. Everyone who is not currently practicing Calisthenics, that is. We’re here to tell you once and for all, do Calisthenics build muscle yes or no? We’ll give you a concise answer and the gist of the matter. What we’ll also do is explain, from our own expertise as trained physiotherapists, why and how Calisthenics works and how you can maximize your gains with Calisthenics.

Looking for the best calisthenics program to build muscle? Have a look at “The Body Transformation” from Calisthenics Movement!

Well, Do Calisthenics Build Muscle?

Yes. Calisthenics is bodyweight exercise where you use your own body as resistance to cause overload. If overload happens, you are building muscle. That’s plain and simple enough. But you’re most likely not here just for the technicality of building muscle. You want to know what sort of gains you can expect from doing Calisthenics and how it stacks up against other forms of exercise, most likely weightlifting.

Calisthenics has a certain philosophy and esthetics that it pursues. Just like there is a difference between a sprinter and a marathon runner, there will be differences between the various branches of fitness. Which muscles do you intend to build, exactly? Do you prefer becoming big in certain areas of your body and do you not care for other parts quite so much? The uptake here is that Calisthenics is of a full-body exercise mentality. You can train your whole body and become strong with just Calisthenics. On the other hand, this also means that Calisthenics bodies tend to look very proportionate; wholly fit, lean, strong but with no truly exaggerated features if done correctly.

5 Benefits of building Muscle with Calisthenics

The benefits of Calisthenics when building muscle ranges from purely physical, to the emotional and even extends into the relational sphere. We’ll name the greatest benefits of doing Calisthenics that we found most beneficial to our own daily lives. Building muscle with Calisthenics:

1. Increases Strength and Agility

Practicing Calisthenics will mean a steady increase in your bodily strength. Calisthenics tends to focus on the whole body, resulting in the whole body becoming stronger. This is often but not always opposed to bodybuilding, which seeks to emphasize certain muscles to acquire a certain esthetic. In this, Calisthenics is also much more about functional strength and not just about pumping muscles to become as bloated as possible. You remain agile or better said, you become far more agile than you were before while also becoming much stronger.

2. Molds a Happier Mind

A happy mind can only reside in a healthy body is our motto. In practice, they go hand in hand of course. You need a mind that is healthy enough to want to exercise, while exercise promotes a healthy mind. Too many of us are stuck in this vicious circle of not liking our bodies, which makes us depressed and thus sedentary and docile. Breaking free of this circle is the hardest step but once you do, your mind will come to appreciate and enjoy Calisthenics, while Calisthenics reinforces the body, which in turn reinforces yet again the mind.

3. Sculpts an Attractive Body

Feeling attractive…, being attractive is a huge morale boost. If you are attractive, it means you have more options to secure your future. Attractive people are more likely to be employed, to get a pay raise, to launch their business successfully because customers trust them and of course, attractive people attract attractive mates. 

The word Calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek Kallos (beautiful) and Sthenos (strength). Calisthenics literally means “beautiful strength”, it is by its very definition meant to shape your body as close to its genetic potential as possible while retaining its esthetics. Biologically there is no escaping this fact; both men and women must find Calisthenics bodies to be the most attractive. We are wired that way from birth.

4. Fosters More Confidence

A higher confidence in yourself translates to success both professionally and in personal relationships. It’s not just about getting lean and shredded outwardly, but also the fact that you were able to do this. Your healthy body is a product of the work you put into it; of the hardships you underwent to take care of yourself. The saying that work is prayer holds true here. The act of doing Calisthenics is building your confidence in yourself and it will show naturally to others. If you follow through with your Calisthenics path in a principled way (you show determination and will) then this “work” and “prayer” are truly one and the same.

5. Gains More Respect

Call it unfair, call it unjust, but it is the way it is. People with more attractive bodies, who stand confidently and full of energy will gain respect from their peers, their subordinates and even their superiors more easily. The reason again is confidence and that your body shows that you can take care of yourself. To understand why this notion isn’t unfair or unjust, look at it the other way around: 

  • If you can’t even take proper care of yourself, why would I trust you with this business opportunity? 
  • If you can’t even muster the discipline to care for your own body, why would I trust you with that promotion that carries more responsibility? 
  • If you can’t even care for your own health, why would I trust you care for a healthy relationship with me?

Respect is earned and a good place to start is to respect yourself and your own body.

6 Bodies That Built Muscle with Calisthenics

Enough with the psych talk now, you want to see the receipts as well. Luckily, there is no shortage of chiseled bodies hewn with the chisel of Calisthenics. Here are our 6 favorite Calisthenics practitioners who built their muscle with Calisthenics alone or a combination of basic Calisthenics with Weighted Calisthenics. We suggest you give them a follow on Instagram and say we said hi. 

Building Muscle with Calisthenics vs Weightlifting

There is the old question of Calisthenics vs weightlifting, and which is better and which we’ve answered in a previous article. Here’s the gist of Calisthenics vs weightlifting;

  • Calisthenics is cheaper than weightlifting, or free altogether
  • Calisthenics also builds flexibility and agility, weightlifting much less so
  • Calisthenics builds a lean “warrior” physique, weightlifting builds size foremost
  • Calisthenics is dynamic and looks cool to watch, weightlifting is static
  • Weightlifting makes it easier to isolate a muscle for exercise
  • Weightlifting has more options to build bigger legs
  • Weightlifting is easier to get into for obese people and very tall people

8 Key Factors to Build Muscle with Calisthenics

Muscles are the most adaptive organs in our bodies. Whenever they are damaged by a bit, they come back stronger. When you exercise, you will cause tiny micro tears in your muscle fiber. This is called muscle trauma and will activate your repair mechanism. Satellite cells located on the outside of your muscle will clean up the damaged cells and replace and then fuse with your existing muscle cells. The result is that your muscle tissue becomes stronger and bigger.

Hormones, especially growth hormones, certain amino acids and testosterone help regulate this process. They play a role in repairing your body and muscles. In turn, resistance training and certain types of foods can stimulate the production of these hormones.

These are the 8 key factors which accommodate this process of inducing micro damage and repairing them with more muscle cells than were previously there.

1. Resistance Training 

Resistance training breaks down muscle tissue and lets your body know it needs to get stronger, so you can lift that weight next time. To achieve this goal, you need an overload stimulus. That means you need some type of resistance that makes your muscles fatigued. If you can perform 3 sets of 10 pull-ups with ease, and afterwards your muscles are not tired and sore, that is not overload. To achieve overload, you increase the weight, number of repetitions or the number of exercises until your muscles do feel tired and sore.

For muscle mass growth and subsequent muscle gains, it is important to keep wearing down your muscles and letting them regenerate and grow with sufficient rest. At some point, and this point is different for everyone, you will hit a plateau. No number of exercises will break through this plateau using your own bodyweight. Using a Weighted Vest or Resistance Band is ultimately the recommended step to increase the level of resistance further.

Resistance, Repetitions and Exercises – How to Get Them Right 

As a simple ground rule to gain muscle in Calisthenics, you should aim for 3 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions. The exact number of your optimal number of repetitions in that range is 65% to 85% of your maximum number of repetitions in one single set until failure. If you can do 5 Pull-Ups in 1 set before failing, then your set of Pull-Ups should be 3 to 4 for your regular exercise. If you can do 20 Pull-Ups already, then the maximum is still 12 because 65% of 20 is still higher than 12.

If you can do those 12 repetitions per set easily and you no longer experience gains, it is time to add resistance to your exercise, for instance using Weighted Vests, Resistance Bands or Dip Belts.

Do around 30 to 45 minutes of resistance training per body part and about 4-5 compound exercises and 1-2 isolated per training. If you feel this is no longer enough for you, increase your weight or reps. Keep in mind that doing too much exercise can leave your muscles more damaged than they ought to be and your recovery time will be longer. 

2. Use the Right Nutrition

Nutrition is also a key factor. In short, you need to be at 10% Caloric surplus to gain weight. Protein with the right amino acids is important, especially after a workout. Optimally, you eat within 3 to 4 hours after your workout and be sure to include protein in your meal. You need between 0.8 and 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight or 0,013 to 0,021 ounces per pound.

Just calories and protein won’t cut it. Your Calisthenics diet needs to consist of healthy products that contain all the vitamins and minerals you need to sustain healthy growth.

3. Rest and Sleep 

Rest and sleep are the times we gain muscle and lose fat, not during the moment of exercise. After a workout, your body needs 24 to 72 hours to recover from your last workout. This applies only to those body parts you targeted. You can exercise every day, by targeting different muscle groups on different days. We recommend you perform resistance training 2 to 3 times a week per body part. 

With an upper and lower body split, you can train both parts two times a week and one of them a third time. Most Calisthenics practitioners choose to exercise their upper bodies three times and their lower bodies twice a week. For an even split, you can switch up this ratio with every new week. Here is a simple week to week schedule, using the weekends as sufficient recovery time to reset your muscles.

MonTueWedThuFri
UpperLowerUpperLowerUpper
LowerUpperLowerUpper Lower
UpperLowerUpperLowerUpper
Et cetera    

This ensures a long-term average of 2.5x a week for both the upper and the lower body.

You need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep daily. It is only during your sleep that your body recuperates, repairs muscles and that your stored fat cells are in transmutation and made ready to be burnt as fuel. Having a good sleep pattern and knowing how to improve your sleep are of vital importance. Without it, you will not experience gains.

4. Compound Exercises for Muscle Gain

Compound exercises train several muscles and joints at the same time and are a mainstay of Calisthenics. This is opposite to isolation exercises in which as much focus as possible is put on a single muscle. Compound exercises result in a more homogenized body, where muscles are still in proportion to one another; just bigger, leaner and stronger. Compound exercises let you target multiple muscles in a short amount of time. 

Squats, as an example, involve your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, muscles in your feet and your abdomen. Not all muscles are trained equally in compound exercise either and there will be more focus on some muscles and less than others. It is important that you emphasize multiple compound exercises so that the whole body is efficiently and effectively worked out.

5. Make Things Harder for More Muscle Gain

Once you hit a plateau with your current exercises, it is time to make things harder. First this will mean more repetitions. After that you will progress to harder and harder variations of the easy Calisthenics moves that lay at the foundation. We rely way less on added weight than, say, weightlifting does. This does not mean Calisthenics is the lighter exercise. One-armed Push-Ups for instance are very hard. For one, it’s only one arm supporting your bodyweight. Second, the way our biomechanics work is that one arm does not mean half our carrying capacity; it’s less than that. 

There aren’t many weightlifters who can bench-press twice their bodyweight 10 times in a row for 3 sets.

Speaking of weights, in Weighted Calisthenics, we use Weighted Vests, Resistance Bands or Dip Belts for added weight and resistance. Start carefully with Weighted Calisthenics and only after you’ve mastered the fundamental exercises and their harder variations. We recommend not exceeding 10% of your bodyweight in added weight and build up slowly over time. Do not increase the added weight more than once every 3 to 6 weeks, provided the weighted exercise has become easy enough for you.

6. Leg Exercises for Muscle Gain

To avoid those unsightly chicken legs, you should never skip leg day. The legs are our most powerful limbs with the largest and strongest muscles. The glutes are divided into the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, otherwise known as your butt, and they are exceptionally strong muscles. But the quadriceps, adductors, hamstrings and calves also play important roles both in the mobility and the strength of our lower bodies.

As bipedal hominids (two-legged great apes) with an exceptionally upright posture, it is only natural that our lower body is the stronger part. Even a strong man would struggle or lose in a pushing contest against an average woman if the woman can use her legs and the man only his arms. This is also why kicking is the ideal response in an immediate self-defense situation because no matter how big their arms, chances are that your legs are just as strong if not stronger. Time to exercise those leg muscles regularly. In Calisthenics, the best leg exercises are again compound exercises. Here are a few of the more commonly practiced ones:

  • Squats: main focus on quadriceps and lower glutes. But almost all leg muscles are activated.
  • Single Leg Deadlift: main focus on hamstrings and glutes. Also great for core stability.
  • Lunges: main focus on quadriceps and glutes. Leaning forward emphasizes the quadriceps. Leaning backward emphasizes the glutes.
  • Single Leg Hip Trusts: main focus on upper glutes, gluteus maximus and the hamstrings. Also great for core stability.
  • Side Plank with Side Leg Raises: main focus on obliques and gluteus medius and minimus.
  • Single Leg Calf Raises: main focus on the calves. More challenging on an elevated plateau like a stairs.

7. Back Exercises for Muscle Gain

The back consists of many small muscles that almost always work in unison. They are divided into two groups, the lower-back and the upper-back. The lower-back is primarily responsible for core strength, while the upper-back helps the arms with lifting. The entire back is also vital for all rotational movements and exercise. Mobility programs in particular focus on these rotational movements.

Your lower-back consists of a part of your erector trunci and the latissimus dorsi (lats). Those last ones are responsible for strong rotating and leaning moves while also helping to sculpt that triangular upper-body esthetics so desired in men. The erector trunci are the long muscles on either side of our spine and go over into your upper-back. They are, as their name suggests, responsible primarily for erecting your trunk, e.g., bending down and coming back up again as well as keeping your upper-body straight.

Most back exercises are done using either a Pull-Up Bar or Gymnastic Rings. Here are the most popular back exercises in Calisthenics:

  • Pull-up: focus on lats, teres major and lower traps. Wide grip emphasizes your lats more. Small grip emphasizes your lower traps/rhombs more. 
  • Australian Pull-up: focus on rhombs and middle traps. A supinated grip emphasizes your middle trap and biceps more. A pronated grip focuses more on your rhombs.
  • Back lever / skin the catmain focus on erector trunci. Trains almost the entire back and rear delts. Skin the cat is a great way to train for the back lever.
  • Ring External Face Pulls: main focus on teres minor and rear delts. Can also be done with a resistance band.
  • Handstand Push-Up: great for upper back and shoulders. Can also be done against a wall if it is too difficult. Your back faces the wall.
  • Chin-ups: exercises the traps, rhombs and biceps.

8. Chest and Triceps Exercises for Muscle Gain

Your chest does not contain as many muscles as your back and legs. All chest exercises are compound and if you want bigger muscle gain, you need to emphasize all parts of your chest. Your chest consists of the pectoralis major and minor (pecs). The pectoralis major consists of an upper, middle and lower part.  The pectoralis minor is mostly there to assist your pectoralis major. Your triceps work together with your chest in compound movements. 

In Calisthenics, there are many chest exercises for beginners which can be easily scaled up almost indefinitely. Many also workout the muscles of your shoulders. Here is a common selection:

  • (Super) Push-Up: focus on chest along with shoulders and triceps. The lower you place your hands the more bodyweight your chest must push. Diamond push-ups focus more on your triceps.
  • Straight Bar Dip: focus on lower chest and deltoideus. The lower your dip is, the more you work your lower chest.
  • Decline Push-Up: exercises the upper chest and front deltoideus. Around a 45-degree angle.
  • Parallel Dip: entire chest and triceps. Lean more forward to focus on the chest and not the triceps. Stay up straight to focus more on the triceps.
  • Wall Handstand Push-Up: great exercise for the front shoulders and upper chest. Face your belly towards the wall.
  • Ring Chest Fly: focus on middle chest.
  • Skull Crushers: focus on triceps.

Fundamental Training Principles and Parameters for Muscle Gain

Any effective full-body workout routine must adhere to the fundamental training principles, as laid out by physiological studies. If these fundamental principles are not adhered to, you will not be training and instead you will only be destroying. Within any given workout routine, you can play with the parameters of these fundamentals, putting more focus on one thing and/or less on another. These Training Principles and Training Parameters are often conflated with one another or one confused for the other. They are two very separate but mutually dependent principles for your workout. It is important you know what they are and what their distinction is to recognize a good workout from a bad one.

Training Principles to Gain Muscle

These are the core training principles to gain muscles. They are static, never changing core principles you must abide by. Some of them will be there whether you like it or not. Without these you will see not any gains, with these you will exercise your body and gain muscles.

Overload

Overload is when you ask more of a bodily system than it is used to giving. The eventual result is that the body adjusts itself to meet the new demand. All your bodily systems have a certain maximum capacity, be that your muscle strength, oxygen uptake, balance and coordination or speed. By gradually demanding more of these systems, the body will react by strengthening them to meet that demand. If you do not cause overload, the body will have no incentive to enhance that system. To become stronger, faster and more endurant, you will need to push yourself just beyond what you’re used to doing. 

Specificity

A marathon runner will not be a sprinter or vice versa. This analogy is somewhat adequate for the principle of specificity. You need to train in a way that corresponds with your specified goals. If you want only muscle size, then bodybuilding is what you need to do. A bodybuilder will not be interested in a lot of mobility exercise that would elongate their muscles. You can’t expect to be a cardio fitness coach if you want the physique of a weightlifter either. It is important that you make this decision early on, because your body simply cannot specialize in everything. Being a jack of all trades but a master of none won’t give you any desirable results.

Reversibility

Your body is always seeking to optimize its energy use and to store energy for later. This is a state called homeostasis. Muscles which are not used are broken down to the minimum requirements of their demands over time. If you stop exercising a muscle, it will eventually start to shrink. At the same time, intentionally not exercising certain muscles or exercising them less is also a choice to be made. If you want a certain proportion to your muscles, you need to make decisions in which muscles you train, which you train less and which you train more; see Specificity as well.

Diminishing Returns

You will experience harder to get results as you progress. And as you progress, you will require exponentially harder exercises to keep getting those gains. In the beginning, gains are quite easily obtained with relatively light exercise. As you progress, less gains are gotten from progressively harder exercises. The closer you come to your genetic pinnacle, the less returns you will see for your time and energy investment. This genetic pinnacle is different for everyone and depends largely on gender but is also highly variable from person to person. Hardly anyone will ever come even near to their genetic pinnacle, however. 

Supercompensation

Exercise will result in an imbalance in your body’s homeostasis; it’s optimized balance for energy input and expenditure to keep everything running. To regain homeostasis, your body will have to compensate for the new demand. This is called supercompensation. After exercise, your body realizes that more energy needs to be put into muscle growth and that larger muscles are needed to maintain the new demand. But also, more food is required and certain nutrients too and perhaps a larger oxygen uptake as well. Your body grows these needs and remains in supercompensation until a new homeostasis is achieved. Supercompensation is the ultimate goal of Calisthenics or any sport for that matter, it is the way our body becomes stronger, bigger, faster and more endurant.

Training Parameters to Gain Muscle

The 5 Training Principles above find their expression in your Training Variables. These variables will determine how much overload you endure, (overload) specify which muscles are trained (specificity), which muscles are not trained (reversibility) and how diminishing returns are handled best; all resulting in that sought after supercompensation. The Training Variables are as follows:

  1. Motor action
  2. Weight and volume
  3. Choice of exercise and order of exercise
  4. Intermittence (resting)
  5. Speed
  6. Frequency

Motor Action

The best muscle gains are made when both concentric and eccentric exercise of the same muscle and muscle groups are undertaken. Concentric action means that the muscle is put under load while it tenses up, eccentric action means that the muscle is put under load while it is stretching. These exercises are sometimes combined (for instance, regular Pull-Ups) but sometimes also focused on (concentric Pull-Ups and eccentric Pull-Ups). Isometric action is a holding action, where the muscle is kept under stress in a particular state, typically either fully flexed or fully stretched. Isometric action is typically used as a beginning exercise before concentric and/or eccentric exercise action can be achieved.

Weight and volume

Both the weight of the exercise and the volume are important factors in causing overload. There is an optimal Repetition Maximum (RM) at which you can train for an optimal balance between muscle gain and resting time. Training with an optimal set of Repetition Maximums (n RM) is more efficient than when you train with just 1 Repetition Maximum (1 RM) set. Empirical evidence suggests that training with 4 sets per muscle(group) is the most efficient and it is about 4 times as efficient than when you utilize a 1 RM set. Figuring out your n RM will take multiple training session, most likely. We should preface this by saying that the 1RM method was meant for strength training, not specifically for Calisthenics, although it does have its utility.

Here is how you do it;

  • Do a 1 RM (maximum you can do and still with proper form) set to failure
  • Take a 30 second rest
  • Repeat your 1 RM set
  • If you cannot do 4 of these sets, lower the 1 RM by 1
  • Repeat the above step until you can do your 4 sets; this is your n RM.

This way you will figure out what number of repetitions you can do in a set and repeat that set 3 times for a total of 4 sets; each individual set just about achievable with proper form.

Empirical evidence suggests that different RM sizes have different effects on your muscle growth. These aren’t exact numbers, but exact enough to give you an idea where you need to work towards;

  • Power, or explosive strength: 1 to 3 repetitions
  • Maximum strength: 3 to 8 repetitions
  • Hypertrophy (fast growth): 8 to 15 repetitions
  • Endurance: more than 20 repetitions

Depending on your Specificity, you should choose or work up to one of these set ranges. If you are within this range and you no longer see gains due to Diminishing Returns, you can add weight to your exercise. In this case, you maintain the same number of repetitions just with added weight. There is again an optimal weight increase that follows the exact same pattern as your n RM;

  • Add between 2% to 10% of your bodyweight in added weight
  • Test if you can still achieve your n RM
  • If you cannot, lower the weight until you can

Choice of exercise and order of exercise

Compound exercises are more efficient than isolation exercises for total muscle growth of all muscles involved. Larger muscles and muscle groups expend less total energy for the total amount of weight moved and they elicit a stronger growth hormone response from the body as well, from which smaller muscles may benefit too during Supercompensation. The most efficient order of exercise is as follows; first the compound exercises of large muscles, then the isolation exercises of large muscles (if applicable), then the compound exercises of small muscles and lastly and if done, the isolation exercises of small muscles.

This order of exercise expends the least amount of energy for the largest total weight moved, as well as causing the strongest growth hormone effect during Supercompensation; smaller muscles which were exercised may benefit from this beyond what is usual when it was just these small muscles being trained.

Intermittence (resting between sets)

The amount of rest you take between sets has a positive influence on how your muscles develop. Energy levels of quickly accessible energy sources like ATP and PCr can regenerate within 3 to 5 minutes, in theory giving your muscles enough energy to repeat your 1RM exercise. Lactic acid is broken down during intermittence and the total lactic acid contents at the end of the exercise is also affected by intermittence length. Finally, testosterone and growth hormones release differ with different lengths of intermittence as the body is preparing for either a fast response or a prolonged effort. 

You should observe an appropriate intermittence length between sets based on your desired results. Empirical evidence suggests the following (related to your n RM);

  • For Power, or explosive strength: 5 to 8 minutes rest
  • For Maximum strength: 3 to 5 minutes rest
  • For Hypertrophy (fast growth): 1 to 2 minutes rest
  • For Endurance: 30 to 60 seconds rest

Speed 

The movement speed affects the development of the muscle. The most efficient muscle growth is achieved by doing both concentric and eccentric movement in a 2 to 4 second ratio; 2 seconds concentric action, 1 second isometric hold at full flex and then a 4 second eccentric action. In the example of a Pull-Up this would be;

  • Pull up in 2 seconds
  • Hold for 1 second
  • Lower down in 4 seconds

To focus on power (explosive strength), a faster movement speed can be done of 2 seconds concentric, 1 second holding and 2 seconds eccentric or even just 1 second eccentric. Slower sets, however, do not seem to have a positive effect on either strength or hypertrophy. As an example, the following table again uses the Pull-Up;

Pull-UpConcentric (Pulling Up)Isometric (Holding)Eccentric (Lowering)
Optimal2 seconds1 second4 seconds
Power2 seconds1 second2 seconds
Explosive Strength1 second0 seconds1 second

Frequency

The frequency of your exercises will largely be determined by your physical fitness at that time. Untrained individuals are best served with 3 to 5 workouts a week for any muscle group. Advanced Calisthenics practitioners can do 4 times a week for a muscle group. As a beginner, you should always leave at minimum 1 day rest between each individual muscle group with at least one 2-day hiatus (See Rest and Sleep under the 8 Key Factors above). Advanced practitioners can achieve working out the same muscle groups twice in a row once a week, after which at least 1 rest day must follow.

You can apply a staggered training routine, targeting different muscle groups on different days, so that each day has at least some exercise. This has no greater or lesser effect on your muscle gains, but it does create a more disciplined routine for you to keep following.

Best Calisthenics Workout to Build Muscle

Now that we have fulfilled our academic promise of answering if Calisthenics builds muscle or not, what are you to do with this information? We’ve taken a deep dive into the science of physiotherapy, and you will probably struggle to turn this information into an actionable Calisthenics workout. Just like we cannot build a spaceship from just reading a book about astronomy, you shouldn’t be expected to become a Calisthenics coach from reading this article. It would simply be too much to ask. Luckily there are Calisthenics Programs that are both firmly rooted in these principles and offer you an immediately actionable workout routine to follow.

There are also plenty of programs that do not follow the Training Principles and/or do a shoddy job getting the Training Parameters right. They don’t follow the actual science; they are the definition of quackery. They are false. It is one of our jobs at calisthenicsworldwide.com to utilize our expertise in the field of physiotherapy to discern truth from false, science from dialectics and the real workout programs from the fads. 

The best Calisthenics Program to build muscle, taking all the aforementioned into account is the Cali Move Body Transformation program. If you’re looking to build muscle through Calisthenics, serious muscle, then the Body Transformation hits all the spots perfectly; all the 8 key factors, the 5 Training Principles and the 6 Training Variables to maximize muscle growth in an optimized way.

Conclusions: Do Calisthenics Build Muscle and What Should You Expect?

Do Calisthenics build muscle? There’s no such thing as a stupid question, if you ask us, but don’t be surprised if we give you a fiery response. We take it that this article has more than sufficiently explained how Calisthenics does build muscle. Calisthenics can also build big muscles as evident by the many Calisthenics practitioners who built their muscle with nothing but bodyweight exercise. If you think about it logically, it makes perfect sense. You can do multiple bodyweight exercises that become progressively harder. By the time you’re doing pistol squats and one-armed push-ups with just 1 limb, you’re already outcompeting the vast majority of weightlifters when it comes to total weight moved. 

Calisthenics consists largely of compound exercises, which target multiple muscles all at once. They do still put focus on some muscles but by and large work out large sections of the body at once. This results in a different kind of physique than for instance weightlifting or bodybuilding would. The total muscle growth might be the same or even larger, just more evenly distributed into a homogenized whole. The Calisthenics physique is therefore different; leaner, more agile and with a focus on functional strength. 

To properly exercise and to build muscle with Calisthenics, you need to follow a proper full-body exercise routine. This routine needs to adhere to 5 training principles within which the training parameters will determine exactly what it is that you’re training; be that hypertrophy like in Calisthenics but also muscle growth in bodybuilding or mobility in CrossFit and so on.

For Calisthenics specifically and if you’re seeking that Greek God physique, we can highly recommend the Body Transformation Program by Calisthenics Movement.

Frequently Asked Questions Whether Calisthenics Build Muscles or Not

Do Calisthenics build muscle is a question forever on people's minds, we found these online too;

Will calisthenics build muscle?

Calisthenics, or bodyweight exercise puts resistance on muscle movement and causes overload. Overload is the primary requirement to build muscle. So yes, Calisthenics builds muscle and mainly by using your own bodyweight as that resistance.

How long does it take to build muscle with calisthenics?

The sky is the limit, or rather your genetic pinnacle is the limit. Beginners who exercise 3 to 5 times a week can expect visible muscle growth within 3 weeks. In the beginning these gains will come quickly, but all exercise knows diminishing returns. Over time as you get stronger, it will become harder and harder to progress.

Can you get big from calisthenics?

Yes, there is no limit but your own genetics to how big you can get from Calisthenics. Ever harder exercise and Weighted Calisthenics can continue to cause overload and larger muscle growth.

What is the best Calisthenics workout plan to build muscle?

The best Calisthenics workout plan to build muscle is the Cali Move Body Transformation Program. It adheres to all physiological principles best to attain optimal muscle growth for your whole body.

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