5 Best Books for Calisthenics To Boost Your Results in 2019

What’s the best approach when you are trying to learn something new you don’t have a clue about or just want to get to the next level?

When it comes to the answer you have 2 simple options.

  1. Try to learn on your own.
  2. Take the advice of somebody who has already done it.

What option do you think is going to be the fastest and the most efficient?

The quickest way to get direct access to all the experience and knowledge somebody else has is to read his books.

If you get your hands on a good book, you can learn a lot. 

Here are some of the reasons why you should really invest in calisthenics books.

With the help of the best book for calisthenics …

  • … you can improve your current area of knowledge and expertise.
  • … you get ready to do whole workout routines.
  • … you can learn how to do certain exercises safely and avoid injuries.
  • … you are going to learn how to avoid common mistakes most beginners make. 
  • … you are going to learn more exercises and their different variations.
  • … you could understand the science behind everything you do, all the whys and hows.
  • … you can learn more about proper nutrition, sleep, supplementation, and recovery.
  • … you can find out what is the best equipment for calisthenics.

And most importantly you can boost your results...

So without any further ado let’s jump to my 5 favorite books about calisthenics and what you can learn from them.

In a hurry?

If you don’t have the time to read this whole article and see all the different books I recommend then take a look at my personal favorite read – Overcoming Gravity (Second Edition).

This is the largest book from all and inside it, you can find everything you really want to know about calisthenics – exercises, workouts, nutrition, recovery, equipment and much more. If you only have to buy one book let it be this one.

Click here to check it out on Amazon

Top 5 Best Books for Calisthenics 

Here’s a quick preview of my top 5 favorite books for calisthenics that I believe everybody should read:

PreviewBookAuthorPages
1Overcoming Gravity (Second Edition)Steven Low598
2Complete Calisthenics: Ultimate GuideAshley Kalym356
3Get Strong: The Ultimate Programthe Kavadlo Brothers220
4Bodyweight Strength Training AnatomyBret Contreras224
5Explosive CalisthenicsPaul Wade392

If you want to learn more about a certain book click the little image or name of the book.

So now you know why it’s really useful to read books, what can you get from them and what are the best ones you can get. 

But before we jump straight into the reviews I want to share with you a couple of important things it’s good for you to know before you buy a specific book.

It’s really good that my tips also work for the majority of books so if you love to read a lot you might find them very useful.

Let’s take a look at what I have prepared for you… 

5 Things You Should Look for When you Buy the Best Book for Calisthenics

I highly recommend you not to skip this part because these 5 things I’m going to share with you can tell you if a book is good or not.

With their help, you are going to make sure that your investment is worth and you are going to learn a lot. 

Here we go… 

1. Who is the Author?

Before you buy a book, it’s highly recommended to know who has written it. 

… I wrote a calisthenics book…

If you don’t already know the author or authors of a book you like do a quick online search and find out some of those things:

  • Who is he?
  • Is he famous and well known in this industry?
  • Is he somebody you can trust taking advice from? 
  • Is he actually actively doing what he writes about?
  • etc.

If you want to read the best book for calisthenics you have to make sure that the book is actually written by somebody who is really good at calisthenics right?

Other things you can also find out about the author are how much experience does he has in calisthenics and if he has other similar books written on that topic and most importantly – are they good? 

If all other books written by the same author are good then there is a very high chance that the book you want to read is also going to be good.

Finally, find out what do other people think about him – do the majority of them like him or not? If they don’t why?

Quick Tip:

The more you know about the person/people who have created the book the better.

2. Are there actionable tips and good information?

When you are looking to buy calisthenics books it’s very unlikely you are doing it just to entertain yourself. You want to read on that topic because you want to learn useful things that you can apply in your own training and daily life.

In that regard, some calisthenics books are going to be better than others.

I learned a lot from this book… Let’s make use of it!

In my opinion, the best book to learn calisthenics should be jammed pack with all kinds of tips, techniques, different exercises, reasons why you should do them, how often to do them, what to eat, how to progress, what to expect, what equipment should you use, and much more. 

As you can see, a good book should provide you with all the answers to those questions. And of course, doing it in such a way that you can actually use the knowledge and apply it straight away.

Another useful thing you can find inside a good book is the story behind how the author/authors have reached their level of expertise. 

In my opinion, one of the most important things you can learn is how somebody got from point A to point B. 

How for example Johny transformed from a skinny and weak average person to a master in calisthenics who is now one of the best athletes in that area. 

  • How did he do it? 
  • What things he did?
  • How much time did it take him to get there? 
  • What was his way of thinking?
  • What problems he faced and how he handled them?
  • etc.

Having all the answers to those questions inside a book can help you a lot. That way you can have a clear understanding of what it’s actually going to take you to get there and what to expect. Of course, we are all different and this can’t guarantee your success but it’s going to give you realistic expectations so you can be prepared for what’s to come.

Every good book for calisthenics should have very detailed information on what I call “behind the scenes” because in today’s society we are brainwashed to believe that big success comes easy and fast way and it’s something similar to an overnight event. 

The truth is far from that

A great book should guide you and give you the real deal about the whole process and show you exactly what is going to take you to get from where you are to where you want to get.

One final thing I want to mention is that it’s highly recommended to buy a book in which there are many different photos, drawings or charts showing you how to do certain movements, etc. because one of the best ways to learn something new is by visually seeing it. 

Especially when it comes to doing exercises and such. 

3. What do other people think about the book?

This is the most important factor that could tell you if a certain book is good or bad. 

Well what did you expect?

If you don’t want to waste your money or time, buy only books that are highly liked and recommended by the majority of people who had read them.

You can easily find that information in the reviews section. From there you can also see if readers are happy with what they got in return and if the book was useful and delivered what it promised.

From personal experience, I can tell that the majority of the best books I have ever read are not best sellers or are extremely popular

If you do a quick online search you probably won’t find them because they don’t have big advertising budgets or are simply created only to make money for the authors. 

My favorite books are packed with great value and the only way you can learn about them is by person to person recommendations like you and this article. 

So the moral of this story is that even if a book you like doesn’t have tens of thousands of reviews that doesn’t mean it’s bad and you have to ignore it. 

Some of the best books for calisthenics might not be the most obvious ones…

4. What type of audience is the book written for?

This is something you should not ignore because different books are suitable for different types of people.

OMG! This book is awesome…

Some books are oriented towards beginners who are just starting out and are looking to learn and start doing calisthenics. 

Other books may include more advanced techniques and tips that could only be applied by people who have some previous experience in calisthenics.

In order to find out if a calisthenics book is right for you, take a glance at its table of contents and see the names of the chapters.

That way you can have a rough idea of what to expect from it and if it’s going to help you or not. 

In my opinion, even if you are very advanced in a certain area there are always new things you can learn no matter how good you are. But in order for that to happen, you have to be open-minded and eager to learn new stuff.

5. Length of the Book

Even if the length of a book isn’t directly responsible for the quality of the content I do believe it still plays a significant role.

Ok, maybe little too much…

I don’t know about you but I would never pay money for a “book” that has only 100 pages and it’s written in 3 months

These types of books have only one thing in mind – to make money for the author and because of that most of the content is pure garbage and filled with what I like to call “fluff”.

I highly recommend you stay away from those types of books. They are not worth your money or your time.

On the contrary, if a book has a decent length, the reviews are great and the headlines of the chapters you can find are good then there is a pretty high chance that the book is good.

A nice book in this genre is good to have at least 200 pages of good content. I recommend you to not buy anything that has less than that.

Take into consideration that if a book contains a lot of images then the total number of pages might increase. Even if we ignore them a good book should have a decent amount of pages packed with useful information. 

My Top 5 Favourite Books 

1. Overcoming Gravity (Second Edition) – Best Book for Learning Calisthenics

Click the image to see the latest pricing on Amazon

Who is the author?

The author of this book is Steven Low. What I like about him is that he does really do what he preaches. Steven is a former gymnast which has many years of training behind his back. He also has a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy. During his training period, he has build really amazing strength and different skills with bodyweight exercises. He can hold a 10-second iron cross, can do few one-arm chin-ups with both arms and has the ability to do a muscle-up on gymnastic rings with extra 70 lbs across his waist. I have to say that this man is a beast and you can learn a lot from following his advice.

What can you expect from this book?

Steven’s book Overcoming Gravity is a very big book full of useful and applicable knowledge. It’s made from 598 wide pages which makes it a lot bigger than similar books from that genre. And I can say that everything you can find inside is useful and there isn’t any unnecessary fluff. I like to tell people that if they are looking for the wikipedia for calisthenics they should read this book – it literally has everything you could ever want.

What’s inside:
  • Steven shows you a lot of ways on how you can increase the difficulty of many different exercises just by the power of gravity.

  • The book teaches you what are the fundamental principles of strength training, progression overload. Inside you will also see the science behind building muscle and strength and how the nervous system is involved in all of that.

  • Everything is explained very well and many of the things mentioned are additionally shown in detailed easy to read charts which do help a lot of understanding.

  • There is also advice on how to set proper goals with your current condition. This is a great piece of information suitable for both beginners and more advanced people.

  • Inside you are going to learn a lot about the different types of strength training including isometrics, eccentric and concentric. All types of training come with easy to more advanced methods you can choose from depending on your current condition.

  • Inside his book, Steven also explains how to include different types of training into your current routine. He also talks about common bodyweight injuries, how to prevent them and what to do if you got them. You can also find great information about recovering, nutrition, sleep, what to do when you get sick and many other factors that are important for your overall progress.

  • Steven goes very in-depth on how to create your own workout routines no matter what’s your current condition – total beginner, intermediate or advanced.

  • The book covers everything you want to know about bodyweight training, is easy to read and people are very happy with what they get. Many customers share that after applying all the principles and techniques from the book they got great results in a relatively short amount of time.

  • If you use the knowledge from this book you can get leaner, stronger and more flexible.

Final Thoughts:

I believe that Overcoming Gravity is recommended read for anybody who is into bodyweight training or it’s fancy word “calisthenics” who wants to get to the next level. It really gives you everything you possibly need and it’s worth every penny.

Read This Book If…

… you want to know all the whys and hows of everything involved in bodyweight training.

… you want to learn how to create your own individual workout routine. You can use the same knowledge and create routines for other people as well.

… you are looking for in-depth knowledge about strength training, progression and how to use your bodyweight and gravity to your advantage without the need for fancy and expensive equipment.

2. Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Exercise – Best Book to Start Calisthenics

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Who is the author?

Ashley Kalym is a very passionate writer who has a long experience with calisthenics, gymnastics and bodyweight conditioning. He got really passionate about this type of training during his time with the Royal Marines. He does also have a lot of experience with many different sports and disciplines. You can really see his passion for training in the way he writes and describes different things. If you are looking for actionable knowledge about bodyweight training he is a great author to start with.

What can you expect from this book?

Complete Calisthenics is a good no-nonsense read that gives you everything essential you want to know about bodyweight training while sparing you the details. Everything is well written, easy to read and it’s packed in 356 pages that are filled with applicable and easy to follow steps. This is another great book to read if you want to learn and get better in calisthenics.

What’s inside:
  • This book covers many basic movements such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats and slowly goes into the more advanced exercises such as planche, human flag, levers, etc. It’s ideal for both beginners, professionals or people that are
    somewhere in between. 
  • The book contains nice pictures in combination with step by step tutorials on how to do every one of those exercises. There is also a great progression plan on how to learn to do the more advanced exercises using support, different positions, etc.

  • Inside the book, you will also learn what are the main differences between doing reps and static holds and what are the different benefits they bring.

  • There are some great ready to follow workout plans you can use straight away so you won’t need to make one yourself. Don’t worry the workout plans are great for people from all levels of fitness – basic, intermediate and advanced so no matter where you are, there is still a good workout waiting for you.

  • You are also going to learn a lot about conditioning, mobility and stretching with the help of the included practical exercises accompanied with good pictures and descriptions.

  • Ashley also talks about the importance of nutrition, needed equipment, rest and recovery. There are also very important tips you can follow and learn from.

Final Thoughts:

The whole book is more on the active side of things and it doesn’t go in-depth as some similar titles do. If you are looking for something more practical and easy to read then this book might be a good fit into your home library.

Read This Book If…

… you are a total beginner who is just getting into calisthenics and want to learn more.

… you want to learn advanced calisthenics movements and apply them in well-created routines.

… you are looking for a book that contains a detailed step-by-step process and pictures of how to do many different exercises for strength building, recovery and warming up.

… you don’t want to hear all the details behind everything you do. You simply want practical advice that’s working.

3. Get Strong: The Ultimate 16-Week Transformation Program – Best Book on Calisthenics Training

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Who is the author?

This great book is written by the Kavadlo Brothers. They are two very passionate brothers that have a very long experience in calisthenics. Both of them have mastered all the advanced movements and do all their writing in a very clear and simple way. They have a youtube channel with over 67000 subscribers. In my opinion, you can learn a lot from them no matter your experience – novice, intermediate or advanced. They have other similar books that are also well-written and loved by a lot of people. You won’t get wrong if you buy one of their books.

What can you expect from this book?

Inside their 220 page book Get Strong you are getting a lot – a complete workout routine accompanied with a ton of useful information. I’m talking about things like Q&As, complete warming up routine, common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid, additional exercises, workouts and many useful tips and tricks.

What’s inside:
  • What I like about their book is that there isn’t any fluff or useless information inside. Everything is simple and well-explained information – applicable exercises, workouts and everything you need to know about how to do them effectively.
  • The whole book is very affordable and for what you get inside the price is totally worth it. There are many similar way too overpriced products that have only a fraction of what you can get from it.

  • Inside the book, you will find an extremely well structured 16-week training routine designed to transform you from a total beginner to a calisthenics pro in only 4 months.

  • Following their advice and workout plan is very effective and is going to help you build more muscle, strength, and endurance during that period. A lot of the customers do confirm that the program actually works – if you are ready to give in the hard work.

  • Their workout plan is divided into 4 different phases each one harder than the previous. No matter what is your current state you could start with one of them. In order to see which one you belong to you would have to complete a specific physical challenge. That is making the whole program good for both beginners and experts.

  • All the workouts are nicely explained, formatted and require no additional equipment except for a good pull-up bar, a wall, a stool, andenough availablefloor space. You can do all the workouts both at home or outside.

  • What I really like about their book is that they show you how to do every single exercise correctly using big images and step by step instructions. There are also very useful tips about doing each exercise and a nice short description of what muscles are targeted so you don’t have to guess.

  • The whole workouts are relatively short of around 30 – 50 minutes and are designed to become more difficult with every passing week with the use of progressive overload and more advanced versions of the exercises. That way you can ensure that you are going to get progress and results.

Final Thoughts:

What I like about this book is that it doesn’t go into details and the science and reasons behind every exercise or movement. I prefer simple and applicable information that simply works but if you want to get the more scientific approach I would recommend you to take a look at Overcoming Gravity or Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy.

Both those books can give you plenty more info on that. Even if this book is way simpler than that I find it to be one amazing guide that could really boost you to the next level.

Read This Book If…

… you are looking for a ready to go and proven workout plan that you can follow using step by step progression.

… you want to build more strength, size, and stamina in a relatively short period of time.

… you don’t want to pay a lot and are looking for something extremely practical and simple.

… you want to workout without the need to have any additional expensive equipment and do it at the convenience of your home.

4. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Best Calisthenics Book for Beginners

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Who is the author?

Bret Contreras is a very well known author in the fitness industry. Except for the Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy he has also written many similar books that are very helpful if you want to learn more about working out. He’s got a Ph.D. in sport science and has worked with a lot of clients ranging from ordinary people to professional athletes. When it comes to knowledge and expertise Bret is someone you can learn a lot from. It is proven again and again that his books are filled with very good knowledge you can use to your advantage. 

What can you expect from this book?

His book Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy (224 pages long) is something everybody who is really into bodyweight training should read. Inside the book, you will find 156 bodyweight exercises that you can do literally anywhere with basic day to day objects most of us should have in our homes. Of course, he also gives you applicable knowledge of how to combine them, in what order and gives you ready to use workout plans to follow. And you can get all of that for a very affordable price.

What’s inside:
  • What I like about this book is that every exercise is shown in an extremely detailed way using colorful high-definition anatomical images. Each image is showing you exactly which muscles are targeted and which ones play a secondary role during the movement.

  • Besides that there are very clear steps of how to do all the exercises properly, what’s the overall difficulty of every one of them and what other alternatives you can do. I have to say that all those things make this book the king of bodyweight exercises.

  • One of my favorite things about this book is that there are exercises for literally every muscle group that exists in your body. I’m talking about different exercises targeting your chest, shoulders, arms, back, thighs, glutes, back, core and calves. There are also additional conditional whole-body exercises you can use to burn fat and get lean.

  • Bret also shares which exercises are best for strength type of training, hypertrophy (muscle-building), weight loss or targeting specific lacking muscle groups you may have. That way you could know which ones are going to help you the most.

  • He also gives good advice on how to combine all those exercises into effective workout splits specifically designed for your goals. You also are going to learn in which order to do them, how often to train, how many exercises to do and what rest time and tempo to use. In simple words, you get to see how to do all the exercises and how to do them in order to build yourself a solid workout plan.

  • There are also some great included workout plans so you could have an idea of what to do. Of course, you can follow them straight away or even better, use all the knowledge from the book and build yourself one.

Final Thoughts:

Sadly inside this book, you won’t find more advanced movements such as planche, levers or human flag. From what I see, this is a more of a calisthenics book for beginners rather than a book for advanced people but with such big variety of exercises, you can easily create a more advanced workout plan if needed. In my opinion, this is a great read and could really help you improve your knowledge and learn how your body operates and use all of that to your advantage.

Read This Book If…

… you want to see the science behind every bodyweight exercise you do.

… you are looking to find out what muscles are being targeted with what movement and how you can do it more effectively. Doing that could really improve your results and progress.

… you want to learn how to create a personal workout plan that is going to be science-based.

… you are a complete beginner who is just getting into calisthenics and is looking for a good way to learn all the basics.

5. Explosive Calisthenics: Using Bodyweight-Only Methods – Best Book for Explosive Type Training

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Who is the author?

Paul Wade is the author of Convict Conditioning – one of the best bodyweight workout books out there. He was actually sentenced and stayed in prison for a while. In there, he had to become tough and adapt to the new environment with only his bodyweight and no equipment. He shares all the knowledge of how he did it inside his few books. Inside Explosive Calisthenics he takes things to the next level and teaches you how to master the art of explosive power in order to become an even better athlete

What can you expect from this book?

This book is a great addition for anybody who already has got some experience and strength developed with the help of bodyweight exercises. The applicable information inside is going to get you to the next level by helping you learn and master some of the fundamental explosive movements for calisthenics. If you already got the strength to do a decent amount of push-ups, squats, pullups, leg raises, bridges and handstand push-ups than this book is right for you. Inside his affordable 392 page book, you will find everything you really have to know how to improve and get the desired explosive power.

What’s inside:
  • In the first part of the book, you will understand the 3 qualities you need to master – speed, power, and agility. You will also learn how to incorporate them into your training and how to get the max out of them. What I like about this book is that there are very good examples explaining to you how and why you may be lacking one or the other of those things and how to fix it.

  • The goal of this book is to teach you how to do the “Explosive Six” exercises – jumps, power push-ups, kip-ups, forward rotations, backward rotations, and explosive bar workout.

  • In order to master each movement, you are given 10 exercises with extreme details on how to do them in a similar way like in his previous book the Convict Conditioning. These exercises start from the easiest variation and progressively reach the hardest form. So in order to learn how to do on the of the “Explosive Six”, you are going to have to learn many advanced movements first.

  • Each step and exercise you can find inside the book has great pictures, detailed steps, tips, and commonly asked questions in order to provide you with everything you might need to learn it.

  • Inside the book, you will also learn how to find out if you are ready to go to the next step, how to conquer your fears, how many reps to do, how often to train and much more. In other words, this book is a complete guide on how to build all the speed, power and agility you need to learn all those explosive movements you see the pros do on famous youtube videos and commercials.

Final Thoughts:

Inside Explosive Calisthenics you can also find very good advice and many useful tips and tricks you can apply in different exercises and workouts. Even if this is not a book for beginners I find it very well written and nicely formatted.

Reading this book could really help you a lot if you want to learn explosive calisthenics and get to the next level. And with its help, you can do that in a very affordable way.

Read This Book If…

… you already have got some experience and strength and you are looking to get to the next level.

… you want to learn how to build some explosive power and have total control over the bar and in the air following a detailed step by step blueprint.

… you are looking for an effective guide you can follow in order to learn how to do very advanced moves, the majority of people can’t do.

Final Thoughts

So now you understand why it’s good for you to read books and how they are doing to affect your results. It’s time to decide which book you like the most.

I know this is a very difficult decision to make because all the 5 books are very well written and packed with useful information you can use straight away. But you have to pick one and go.

Even if you have something else in mind make sure to use all 5 tips I have shared with you in order to make the right decision and not waste your time and money on bad reads. 

To be honest, if I were you and I had the budget to buy only one book I would go for the Overcoming Gravity (Second Edition). 

In my opinion, this is the best book for calisthenics because it’s a combination of literally everything you should know about calisthenics and gymnastics.

Inside you will find all the knowledge you need to become better and learn how to do many of the difficult things you always dreamed of. I highly recommend that you read this book and see for yourself what I’m talking about.

Click here for the latest price on Amazon

Quick Tip:

If you want to take your calisthenics training to the next level it’s going to be very beneficial if you take a look at my other latest articles on that topic you can find here.

In some of my recent ones, I share with you what are my favorite resistance bands, dip bars, supplements, and even wrist wraps and what makes them such. Please take a look if you have the time. You might find something useful in there.

Before I finish this article I want to personally thank you for taking the time to read this post. It will make me very happy if I managed to help you make a good decision and buy a nice book that is going to provide you with all the knowledge you seek. 

If you find this post useful please leave a comment below and let me know. I would also really appreciate if you share it with your friends by using one of the buttons.

Now it’s time to…

Hope to see you again,

– Bozhidar

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Bozhidar Karailiev
Bozhidar Karailiev
Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I have created this site to share with you my experiences and knowledge from over 7 years of training using my home gym, public gym and calisthenics. I have some experience into gymnastics too. Hope my articles are useful to you!

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