The Problem With Calisthenics

Posted on October 12 2018

The Problem With Calisthenics

     Now, you’re probably thinking…”Austin, if you have a problem with Calisthenics, then why are you doing it?” The thing is, I don't have a problem with calisthenics at all. I think it's an awesome way to get a great workout. It's pretty much the basis of my training. I've been doing it for around three plus years now. However, I’ve noticed a lot of other people have problems with calisthenics. They have these myths and other fallacies that are just simply not true. I want to address some of other people's problems with calisthenics and try and give them some advice regarding it.


You Can Not Build Muscle With Calisthenic

    Let's tackle this one first, if you’ve been following me for a while or even just look at old pictures from just a year ago, you will see how completely false that is! The people who say you can't build muscle with calisthenics are the people who actually don't try to do it. With calisthenics, the way to build muscle is through intense progressive variation/overload. What does that mean? Another way to look at it is if we come from it at a weightlifter's mentality, when they get stronger, when they get bigger, they add more weights. With bodyweight training calisthenics, when you get stronger, when you get bigger, you make the exercise harder.

You Can Not Isolate Different Muscle Groups With Body Weight Training

    Now that we know you most definitely CAN build muscle with calisthenics, let’s keep an open mind when we consider how to isolate them. I honestly don't see that as a problem because when you're doing a calisthenic exercise; for the most part, it's' going to be compound. With calisthenics, when you alter your hand placement, different grip variations to target more, of your upper chest or more of your long head. However, throughout the whole entire exercise, you're still going to be working for other muscle groups. If I'm working chest, or if I'm working my upper chest, or if I'm targeting my long head more, I know that upper body is still getting a crazy workout, and that will lead to more volume, more overall volume of the workout which could equal smart gains, because I am definitely a component of high-volume training, especially with body weight training.

You Have to Be Super Skinny to Start Body Weight Training

    For people who are overweight or who aren't super skinny like these other calisthenics dudes feel very demotivated to start. I've seen overweight people who have started calisthenics. I made a video on how you can start calisthenics if you're overweight. So, if you are overweight be sure to check out that video. The point is to address the problem; you don't need to be skinny to start calisthenics. If you are overweight or if you are not at a point where you're comfortable to start or you feel really heavy with your body weight, just remember the progressive principle. You start off with the basic exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, dips, even body weight squats. Then from there, as you get stronger you work your way up. Now if you are overweight, you want to prioritize cardio and also your diet, of course, so that you can lose that weight because with bodyweight training it comes down to relative strength.

It's Not Actually Working Out

    I have a big gripe with this one because I hate when people look at calisthenics and say, "Oh, they're not really working out." I think they're just looking at the freestyle calisthenics. Those are the people who do the tricks, the spin on the bars, that really comes out of the technique. In reality those are party tricks, however, you got to move on to the reps and sets side of calisthenics and even weighted calisthenics. If you do a workout with me, you will definitely realize that it is working out and you'll probably get a better workout than you would if you were doing weight training. That is because you are working out different muscle groups, or different muscle fibers that you're really not used to targeting. For example, the handstand push-ups, the one-armed pull-ups, the weighted muscle-ups, the weighted pull-ups, stuff like that. I promise you are going to get a great workout. If you feel like you’ve mastered your body weight and you’re ready for the next level, then I recommend you check out my new Weighted Calisthenics Program, Beyond Bodyweight.

It is Not Popular

    For me personally, where I live in the United States, it's honestly not as popular as bodybuilding or general fitness. I see that when I go to different fitness expos, when I hang out with different people, even just working out in the gym. I'm probably the only person implementing bodyweight exercises in my routine. Literally, I really don't even see a lot of people do a 50/50 split weightlifting and body weight training. It's crazy because I realize that I have motivated people to start it, but I just want to see more of it. I know they got a good thing going on outside of the United States. They have competitions, and it’s super popular. But in the United States, I feel like it could be greater and I feel like if everybody started sharing with their friends and their co-workers, whoever, about the greatness of calisthenics bodyweight training, we can make it go mainstream and have it become just as popular as bodybuilding and as fitness.


  • Kenny jones: October 19, 2018

    Hey Austin, i currently weigh 69kg and have been doing weight training for 8 months now and am not seeing as much progress as id like so i am starting to really get interested in calisthenics. Ive been following you for a while and all the equipment you use outside of the gym are easy access, the famous pull up bars for exsmple. Where i live there is nothing like that out in public so could you maybe suggest alternative ways to do workouts without that “easy access” equipment?

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