How to Combine Calisthenics with Weight Training for Best Results (My Experience)

In order to maximize muscle and strength development and get all the benefits from calisthenics and weight training you should separate them in different workouts and do 2-3 days of calisthenics and 2 days of weight lifting every week.

For your calisthenics workouts you can do all the basic movements like push-ups, dips, pull-ups and combine them with advanced moves you would want to learn like planche, handstand, muscle-ups.

For weight lifting it is enough to do all the basic lifts – squat, bench press, overhead press, deadlift and weighted pull-up.

Here’s exactly how to combine them both and structure a very efficient weekly workout. (I use the exact same strategy).

What you will learn

  • Why it’s important to combine calisthenics with weight lifting (Based on science)
  • How to combine calisthenics and weight training in a weekly workout (Step-by-step)
  • How to get the best results from your combined training (My Experience)
  • What equipment you would need for calisthenics or weight training (for home training)

Why it’s important to combine calisthenics with weight lifting (Based on science)

Even if I’m a really huge fan of bodyweight training and do it every week it has some serious drawbacks.

For instance it’s hard to progress only with your bodyweight in certain exercises and you can’t really do a great leg workout. (nothing can beat the old good weighted squat)

So doing only calisthenics cause a very serious problem and you can’t do continuous progressive overload and keep building muscle mass and strength without using any external weight which is essential if you want to cause muscle hypertrophy. [1]

Quick Tip: If you don’t know what progressive overload is let me explain. It’s a term that is used to describe that in order to build muscle and strength you must become stronger and slowly keep increasing the intensity of your workouts. 

You can do that in various ways but the simplest is to add more resistance to every movement you do (weight is the most common way to achieve that) so you can do a maximum of 6 to 12 reps without losing proper form (best rep range for building muscle according to science [2]).

So with lifting weights you can easily add weight and stimulate your whole body to become stronger and build more muscle while still using it to learn hard calisthenics skills and master the art of using your own weight, 

How to combine calisthenics and weight training in a weekly workout (Step-by-step)

According to science it’s recommended to rest 48 hours (2 days) after every large muscle group you have trained. [3]

Large muscle groups are – chest, back, legs and arms.

The same thing applies to calisthenics. If you want to keep progressing you need to rest and give your body and nervous system time to recover and become stronger.

Important Tip: That’s why the best workout that combines them is made in such a way so you have enough time to recover (2 days between each group) while still increasing your strength, gaining muscle and improving your calisthenics skills.

Here’s my current workout program I use to combine calisthenics and weight lifting

  • Monday: Calisthenics
  • Tuesday:  Full Body Split (5 ex.)
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Calisthenics 
  • Friday: Full Body Split (5 ex.)
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Calisthenics Workout (everything is done in 3 sets, explosive type of training)

  • Muscle ups (as many as you can do)
  • Handstand push-ups (6-12 reps)
  • Planche hold (as long as you can hold)
  • Explosive push-ups
  • Front lever raises (as many as you can do)

Full Body Split (5 exercises, all are 3 sets with 6-12 reps):

  • Barbell squat
  • Pull-ups 
  • Deadlift
  • Bench press
  • Shoulder overhead press

Tip: Feel free to edit the number or the order of the rest days or change some exercises as you please. (Ask yourself – what do I want to learn and develop?)

How to get the best results from calisthenics and weight training (My Experience)

Track down your workouts: In order to progress in any one of the movements or exercises you must know where you currently are. Write down in a specific notebook or somewhere online how many seconds you managed to hold something, how much weight you used for a specific exercise, how many reps you did for your last set, etc. Write down anything you can improve and aim to do exactly that. 

Always aim to progress: I’m sorry but doing every single time 3 sets with 10 pull-ups for months won’t give you a wider or stronger back. You must push yourself and try next time to do 11 or add 5 kg (10 lbs) in a backpack or with a weighted vest and give your best. Doing those small wins will insure you follow the main principle of progressive overload which will scientifically help you build more muscle and strength. Make sure to write every small win somewhere as well! (combine it with the previous tip)

Control your body and weight: No matter what you train and do, it’s essential to control your body or weight. Slowing down a bit for each rep will increase the overall intensity, push you to progress and will also increase your total time under tension which is a really important factor in muscle development according to science [4]. If you see that your form is bad simply lower the weight or choose a simpler variation of the movement. Leave your ego at the door!

What equipment you would need for calisthenics or weight training (for home training)

In case you are interested in doing calisthenics or weight training at home here’s a short list of all my essential exercise equipment I own and every single day. (And link to get it or learn more if interested)

Important Note: You don’t need everything to start if you can’t afford it. For calisthenics you can buy or build yourself a pull-up bar and some type of dip bars and for weight lifting you can buy a barbell, a pair of dumbbells. (you can also buy a squat rack and adjustable bench later)

My calisthenics essential equipment:

  • Pull-Up bar you can attach to wall, ceiling or doorframe (link)
  • Portable dip bars (link)
  • A complete set of loop resistance bands (link)
  • Wooden gymnastic rings (link)
  • Parallettes (shorter dip bars for push-ups and L-sit) (link)
  • Weighted Vest with at least 40 lbs max (link)

My home gym equipment:

  • Barbell (link)
  • Set of adjustable dumbbells (link)
  • Adjustable bench (link)
  • Squat stands (link)

Now you have everything you need to combine both worlds and get the fastest results. Don’t forget that it takes time but if you are patient and put in the hard work you can achieve everything!

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