Calisthenics will NOT make you big and muscular. If you think this, you are naive and fell for the fake natty bar star who makes money by lying to you.

Here are the facts about calisthenics:

  1. steroids + bodyweight workouts = huge muscles
  2. you can look steroid-big with calisthenics naturally if:
    1. You are way under 5’6″ 168cm
    2. AND you are genetically gifted, top 0.01%
    3. AND you are under 6% bodyfat
    4. AND you have flawless, clean nutrition


Calisthenics taken over and ruined by fake natties. One big problem is that “calisthenics” is like a “toning exercise” – what the HELL is it and what is the goal?
For clarity, we need to separate calisthenics into two logical categories:

  1. bodyweight exercises – pushups, pullups, jumping squats, dips [muscle building without requiring skill, balance, coordination, or flexibility]
  2. gymnastics moves – bar, ring, pole and floor routines  like backflips. [builds skill, balance, coordination, and flexibility]

So now lets talk about each of these.

Bodyweight exercises are awesome! I travel internationally 8 weeks a year and when I travel, I use bodyweight exercises extensively. Typically every other day I do pushups, pullups, and suspension training. If you are an intermediate or advanced lifter, this kind of workout can help you maintain muscle mass BUT unless you are a total newbie with no muscle mass you will not gain muscle using bodyweight exercises – period. For those saying I am wrong, let me repeat:

 steroids + bodyweight workouts = huge muscles

So now lets talk about the gymnastic moves that many people mean when they say “Calisthenics”. These moves are beautiful to watch and they are an excellent physical challenge to work toward. They require balance, coordination, flexibility, and concentration. The problem is that these moves are very hard on the joints. If you got to a triathlon, you will find the over 60 age class is huge. Go to a gymnastics competition and just try to find someone on the rings over 60. Not everyone can or should do gymnastics. If you have shoulder, knee, or back issues its probably a bad decision.

What is calisthenics good for?

Bodyweight exercises are great for your first six months of working out.  If you are young and athletic, the gymnastics moves are an awesome challenge which can build coordination, balance, and flexibility.

If your goal is to get huge muscles, lift big weights.

What about weighted calisthenics?

Weighted exercises are NOT calisthenics – read the dictionary definition. One of the main selling points of calisthenics is that you don’t need weights. If you are going to sling a bunch of 25lb plates around your waist then just do a normal bodybuilding or powerlifting workout! I personally do weighted pullup and weighted dips all the time as part of my bodybuilding workout and I often put a 45lb plate on my back to do weighted pushups BUT that is bodybuilding, not calisthenics.

Calisthenics is all you need! (?)

Yup, that and steroids will make you huge … or photoshop like this …