Does Calisthenics Need Supplements? [What Science Tells]

If you are reading this article you are probably thinking of buying some supplements but you are not quite sure if they are worth it or not. 

I totally get you, I was in the same place a while ago when I was starting to get more serious about working out and nutrition.

By the end of this article I will give my best to provide you with all the answers you are seeking and help you find out if you do need supplements for your calisthenics training or not. 

So without any further ado let’s get into the good part.

So Does Calisthenics Need Supplements?

Let’s find out!

If I have to give you an answer to this question in only one simple sentence it’s going to be something like this:

You don’t really need supplements in order to achieve great results in calisthenics but if you can afford some I highly recommend you to give them a try. They could really help you speed up the whole process.

I know, I know there are two sentences instead of one but I hope you get the point.

That’s a very strange answer, right? What makes me think that?

To give you a good answer let’s get deeper and see what’s the main purpose of supplements and what they do for us.

What are really supplements?

For me, supplements are very useful artificially created products (they don’t grow on trees or the soil).

They should be packed with all kinds of beneficial ingredients to the human body. 

Consuming those ingredients is scientifically proven to help you with many different things.

Some of the basic things are:

  • Give you more energy
  • Faster recovery
  • More strength
  • Bigger muscles
  • And many more great things. 

Wait a minute

Did you saw how I use the word “should” instead of “are” in the second sentence from this section? 

The reason behind that is because many manufacturers don’t really have the habit of really doing what they should do. 

With the beneficial ingredients, their products also come with a lot of junk and additives that are unhealthy for your body and on rare occasions could even be dangerous. 

If you do get on hands on a decent product that is made by a company that doesn’t care only about making profits but it actually does think for its customers you could get a lot in return.

I and millions of people worldwide can confirm that supplements do actually work. And not only us, but science does also supports them!

If you are still skeptical just use your common sense and answer this:

If supplements were useless and didn’t work why would millions of people worldwide continue spending their hard-earned money buying them?

The main problem is not that they don’t work but how to find the ones that do. More on that later.

So are supplements really needed for calisthenics?

In my opinion yes they are because they do really work but they are not necessary to have.

Let’s find out why…

Can I Do Calisthenics Without Taking Supplements?

Yes, you can!

I know there are people who believe that their whole progress and success rely fully on taking different supplements. If they somehow suddenly stop doing so their progress will stop too. Shortly after that, they will lose everything they gained and all will be done for nothing…

Let’s be realistic, please. Such beliefs are complete nonsense. 

Here’s a quick story about why I believe so.

A while ago during my first year of bodyweight training, I remember that I relied only on good food, sleep, and training.

During back then I haven’t touched any supplement because I simply couldn’t afford them.

So I continued to train without them and I still managed to achieve great progress, growth and improve my skills on a monthly basis.

So how I actually did that?

If I have to be completely honest I believe my success in this endeavor fully relies on 4 things:

  1. Perfect Personal Meal Plan
  2. Correct and Regular Training Regime
  3. Good sleep and Recovery
  4. Patience and persistence (The Most Important One)

As you can see there aren’t any supplements there. That’s because they are not necessary.

I can guarantee you that If you follow strictly those 4 things only after a couple of months you could too achieve the same results.

Want to learn more?

No problem! Let me share with you some of my best tips in all those 4 areas which you can apply in your life and get similar results.

Here we go …

4 Things You Must Do To Get Calisthenics Results Without Taking Supplements

In order to keep things simple, I will share with you 5 tips for every part. That’s going to end up with about 20 tips in total. I know that may be a little overwhelming but I have a lot to share with you. 

I will give my best to make them short and useful at the same time.

1. Perfect Personal Meal Plan

Tip #1: Pay Somebody or Do it Yourself

Don’t even try training without having a solid meal plan which you are going to follow strictly. Trust me, the meal plan is the most important thing! No matter how hard you work out if you don’t eat properly you won’t see a thing. Sadly I know that very well because I was doing that for a while… but not anymore! When it comes to personal meal plans you have 2 choices – learn how to make one yourself or pay a professional to do it for you.

If you are on a tight budget and have the available time then the first option is the best one you’ve got. Don’t worry all the information you are going need to do so is out there for absolutely free. If you can spend a few bucks and still want to learn I would recommend you to invest in some good books on that topic.

A good book I recommend for creating meal plans is Overcoming Gravity. Click here if you want to learn more about it. The second choice is a lot easier and faster than the first one – just pay someone else to do it. Just make sure he really knows what he is doing before you can trust him with your food. A good way to see how well he is doing is to simply see how he looks and what he can do. 

You wouldn’t take advice about how to lose weight from an overweight person right?

Tip #2: Do it in bulk

If you want to make things a lot easier just buy all your foods and products in bulk. That way you are also going to save a lot more money and time. The same thing applies to cooking. Cook large quantities of food at once.

Before you start make sure that the food you have decided to cook in bulk is going to last a while before it turns bad. This whole process I’m describing is called meal prep and it’s something I regularly do because it actually works. If you are looking for great inspirational recipes to try, check out my other post

If you want to learn more about meal prep you can watch this video:

Tip #3: Think ahead of time

One of the biggest mistakes you can do is to not knowing what you are going to eat and when is that going to happen. Every day right after you wake up you should have a plan of what are you going to eat throughout the day. There simply shouldn’t be any doubts or questions when it comes to eating food. You simply have to know when exactly, what meal and how much you are going to eat.

Can you see how are things connected?

If you don’t follow a meal plan or take the time to do meal prep everything becomes useless.

So in order to succeed, plan ahead. I remember when I was in school during the lunch break I simply had to open my backpack and pull a delicious and ready to eat chicken and rice meal. Rather starve or eat junk food like the rest of my classmates I ate a delicious and nutritious meal while they were miserable.

Well, now I understand the true meaning behind the words: preparation is king!

Tip #4: Do the math

When it comes to good results you have to follow the numbers.

  • If you have to eat 2500 calories every day to gain strength and size do it.
  • If you have to eat 200 grams of protein, do it.
  • If you have to eat 5 different meals, do it.
  • If it’s going to take you 4 months to get there, do it.

As you can see everything is simple as just follow the numbers. Once you know them, stick to them – doing that day in and day out is going to provide you with all the great results you seek. I know some of you don’t like mathematics or numbers but if you don’t play by their rules you won’t succeed. 

Tip #5: Make it simple

You don’t have to make things complicated in order to move forward. Having simple and easy to make meals is going to have the same exact impact as eating 10x more complicated ones made from god knows what ingredients.

That’s why I really like to keep things simple.

I make simple meals that require simple and few easy to find ingredients. I buy all my ingredients from nearby stores in bulk when I can. I have ready to go meals in my fridge.

I have the ability for only a few seconds to take them anywhere with me with the help of cheap food boxes. The simpler a process is, the easier it’s going to be for you to stick with it.

So don’t overthink it – and try not to make it complicated!

2. Correct and Regular Training Regime

Tip #1: Take the time to make it right

If you took the extra time and learn about specific things that most people aren’t aware of you are always going to be one step ahead.

Before you start your next workout do research on:

  • how to properly do the exercises
  • how to get the max out of them
  • how long to rest between the sets
  • how many reps to do
  • etc.

Even if you do believe you don’t have to do it!

You will be in shock about what else you can learn.

I know this is not a fun thing to do but doing it is going to boost your results because all those little things add up and increase the effectiveness of your workouts.

And believe me, everything you could possibly want to know is already available on the internet – you only have to find it.

Tip #2: Know exactly what to do

One thing I really like is to know exactly what I’m going to do before it has even started.

Doing that saves me a lot of time and makes my workouts way more effective and productive.

So in order to have better results know upfront:

  • What exercises are you going to do
  • What equipment are you going to need
  • Where are you going to train
  • How many sets are you going to do
  • How many reps
  • etc.

If you are just starting out use a notebook and take notes inside after every workout you do.

In time you will start to remember everything and you might not need to use it anymore but tracking workouts and progress is always a useful thing to do. 

Tip #3: Have full control

During your exercises you want to have complete control over your body and the movements.

No matter what happens do not lose form or range of motion.

  • If you have to do fewer reps than required to keep up the good form do it!
  • If you have to lower the weight, do it!

The more correct repetitions and movements you do, the better results you will get.

Aim for quality instead of quantity.

If you don’t have the right amount of strength to do a specific exercise correctly seek an easier variation of it. Doing these things is going to pay itself in the future.

Tip #4: Progress

No matter what you train if you do the same thing over and over without any improvement you will get nowhere. In order to see results, you have to progress.

You can that in a lot of different ways – add one more rep, add some extra resistance using different bands, or wear a weighted vest, add one more set, etc.

Whatever way you choose to do make sure it makes your workout more challenging.

It’s obvious that you can’t progress with every single workout but doing so often enough will guarantee progress. 

Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to try new things

Trust me, I know how uncomfortable is to get outside your comfort zone. But once you do it you are going to start seeing better results.

It’s proven that doing that does have a positive effect on results.

So don’t be afraid to try a new movement, exercise, and spice things a little.

I know it will feel very awkward in the beginning but if you stick to it eventually everything will become easier and more enjoyable.

Big changes happen when you try new things.

3. Good sleep and Recovery

Tip #1: Build a sleeping habit

I know this is not an easy thing to do but having enough sleep on a regular basis is really essential for health, results, and energy.

The advice I can give you is to try your best to go to bed at the same time every night.

In addition to that try not to use any electrical devices 30 min to 1 hour before that.

I have done a recent test in which I stayed on the computer and right after I turned it off I tried to get some sleep. It took me a lot longer to get asleep compared to when I repeated the same thing but with reading a book.

I know that we are very addicted to our devices but they are in our way to get good sleep.

So if you follow these 2 advises you should improve your sleeping habits and feel a lot better after you wake up.

Tip #2: Take days off

Don’t worry, you won’t miss a thing if you don’t workout for 1 or 2 days per week.

It’s actually recommended that you take at least a 48 hours rest in order to give your body and nervous system enough time to recover properly.

Here’s a very good article giving you way more details on how rest days can help you and what do to on them. 

Tip #3: Know when to stop

If you push your body extremely hard day in and day out eventually you are going to burn off.

If you reach that point you will get the exact opposite effects that are making you want to train.

You will get less energy and focus, you will start to lose endurance, stamina, and strength.

Your muscles will become weak and eventually will get smaller. All your hard work will be done for nothing.

Trust me it’s really hard to miss the breaking point when it comes. If this moment ever comes it’s when you have to draw the line and simply stop.

Take a week off.

Give your body enough time to recover. Doing that will ensure you keep going in the right direction.

Tip #4: Take the time to warm up

One of my biggest mistakes that cost me a shoulder injury was the lack of warming up routines.

The injury lasted for a few weeks and I couldn’t train because of the constant pain I got for every movement of my shoulder.

If you don’t want to end up like me or even worse than that please take the time to properly warm-up before your workouts.

I know it’s going to take a few more minutes to do so but its 10x better than having to live with an injury.

Here’s a quick video of a good warm-up routine I like to do:

Tip #5: Include stretching

Hey, I get it. Almost nobody likes to stretch and it’s not very pleasant to do either but there are reasons why people are doing it.

Doing a proper stretch could bring you a ton of benefits and helps with your mobility and range of motion.

So I highly recommend you to take a few minutes every day and do a couple of good stretches.

In time you will get better and better and you will see how easier it will feel to do certain movements.

4. Patience and persistence

How long more? I’m hungry!
Tip #1: Have patience

Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your calisthenics skills.

Serious results take a lot of time.

Before you even start have realistic expectations about how long it’s going to take you to get where you want to get.

Be ready to wait because it may take you several months to even a few years to get there. I know this is not what you like to hear but that’s how real life works.

It simply takes time.

If you are patient enough and invest the right amount of time and effort into something you will eventually see positive results.

Tip #2: Create a goal and a way to reach it

One of the worst things you can do is to start working out and follow a meal plan without having a specific goal. 

Simply ask yourself: 

  • Why I’m doing all of this? 
  • What’s my goal? 
  • When do I want to achieve it? 
  • Is it specific? 

If you have a clear, accurate and specific answer to these few questions than congrats, you are on the right track!

But if you are like most people you probably don’t have one. 

If that’s the case take a piece of paper and a pen and create yourself a nice goal to follow. 

Here’s how to do it!

Your goal should have those 3 things:

  • It should be extremely specific (Gain 10 lbs)
  • It should be realistic (Learn to do 5 more push-ups not 50)
  • It should have a time frame (in 3 months)

Example of a good goal:

I want to gain 10 lbs and learn to do 5 more push-ups in 30 days.

So what to do after you have a goal? Well, you have to find a way how to get there. Try to find out what things you have to do on a daily basis to get there.

Example: Work out 40 mints, eat 6 meals, go to bed at 10 pm, etc.

And of course, doing them every single day no matter how you feel. 

Tip #3: Be ready to be crushed

No matter how specific plans or goals you have everything always happens in exactly the opposite way we want.

Sadly, this is how life works. I know it sucks.

So don’t get your hopes too high because the failures are eventually going to happen.

Instead, put one foot in front of the other and take little steps and learn from your experience. 

Examples:

You tried something new. It didn’t work as promised. Try something else.

Something you tried failed miserably. Learn from it and try again.

If you repeat this step enough times something will eventually work.

And when that happens you will really see what I’m talking about. Just keep trying new things no matter how many times you fail.

Tip #4: Aim for small increments

Real and massive progress don’t come in a short amount of time. It usually comes in very small increments.

Example: You gain the strength to do one more rep, to hold 3 more seconds, etc. 

When that happens be happy about it. Your goal should be to have those little victories if you want to achieve the bigger picture.

The greatest example I can give you is dominos.

With only one little push of one domino, you have the ability to make 1000s of different pieces fall down.

The same thing applies in real life as well. 

Tip #5: Put in the hard work

If you are not ready to take the grind, hard work and sweat then close this page and get the hell out of my website, it’s not for you.

No matter how much you read, research and know if you don’t apply it really doesn’t mean anything.

Real results come from real work.

That’s why I don’t believe in “positive thinking” or similar things. I believe in action and results.

So even if you have read all my tips but won’t do a thing it won’t matter.

If you have to apply only 1 tip out of my 20 let it be this one:

Take action and put in the hard work! That’s how progress is made!

Fun Fact:

Doing only those simple things I have explained earlier is going to place you way ahead of the majority of people on this planet.

Calisthenics Workout Supplements – How They Really Work?

As you already know supplements can help you with a lot of things before, during and after your calisthenics workouts.

Different supplements can help you with different things.

Here is a list of some important things supplements can help you with:

  • Speed up your progress and give you better and faster results.
  • Help with your body’s recovery process making it quicker and more effective.
  • Provide you with a lot of energy so you can have better workouts.
  • Save you money and time on buying, preparing and carrying food.
  • Provide you with additional strength, endurance, and explosiveness.
  • Help you build and preserve muscle mass.
  • Boost the calorie-burning process and help you lose more weight.
  • Great replacement for sweats. Some products help a lot with sugar cravings.
  • They help you get enough macros and micros for your daily needs. Things like protein, carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.
  • Usually, they don’t have many calories making them extra addition to any meal plan.
  • and much more…

As you can see supplements have a ton of different uses in your daily life.

That is making them something worth having. With their help, you can certainly improve your workouts and the results you get from them. 

The way I see it there are 4 groups of supplements.

Supplements that work …

  • … before the workout
  • … during the workout
  • … after the workout
  • … all the time

We all know that when it comes to the supplement industry there are thousands of different brands selling all kinds of unique products. And all of them claim miracles, extreme results, natural ingredients and no side effects on your body.

Should you believe them?

Of course not! 

The majority of them are pure garbage and don’t really do a lot but there are a few that are actually worth the price. 

Let’s check them out…

What Supplements Should I Take for Calisthenics?

So what are the supplements you should take for calisthenics?

The 5 supplements worth investing in are:

  • Protein Powder
  • Creatine
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
  • Pre-Workout
  • Post-Workout / Recovery Drink

Quick Tip:

If you want to learn very in-depth what makes them winners and what are my favorite products that I recommend and use click here to read the whole article I have written recently.

So let’s take a quick overview and see what are the things that make them such.

1. Protein Powder 

Protein powder usually comes in big packages in powder-like form. Usually, there is also an included scoop too. With many of the brands, you have a pretty big choice of different flavors to choose from. In order to drink it, you may need a shaker but if the product has nice mixing abilities a spoon and a cup could be enough.

Why you should take protein powder for calisthenics

  • Getting enough protein is an essential part of your diet. The powder form helps you get the right amounts of protein for your daily needs
  • It helps with the recovery process.
  • It helps with the growth of your strength and muscle mass.
  • If you don’t eat the right amounts of protein you won’t get results no matter how much work you put in.
  • It can boost your physical performance.
  • It is a lot more convenient to take compared to traditional food.
  • It doesn’t require any cooking, preparing or preserving.
  • A dose of powder is a lot cheaper than eating real food and you get the same amount of nutrients.

2. Creatine

Creatine usually comes in medium-sized packages with a tiny scoop included. The doses you have to take are small and if you buy a big size the product is going to last you for a while.

Why you should take creatine for calisthenics

  • It gives you a boost of energy for the workouts.
  • It also helps with the overall physical performance.
  • It makes you more durable and helps with fatigue.
  • It has positive effects on strength and muscle mass.
  • A great option to speed up the weight loss process because of the extra energy you get.

3. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) 

They do come as pills or as powder. Depending on your choice you get the option to pick one or the other. BCAAs don’t usually come with taste but some brands do offer some options if you want to. They are usually mixed in a bottle of water and could be taken throughout the day.

Why you should take BCAAs for calisthenics

  • They play an important role in the muscle growth process.
  • BCAAs can help with protein synthesis.
  • They act as shield protection for your muscle mass. That way your body can’t use it for energy.
  • Lower the amount of muscle soreness you get after a workout.
  • They can help you decrease the overall percentage of body fat.

4. Pre-Workout

It comes in a powder form which you have to mix with water or milk. Most pre-workouts have nice flavors and are pretty easy to consume. Some people like to combine it with protein powder or other similar supplements for greater effect.

Why should you take pre-workout for calisthenics

  • It gives you a big energy boost that also helps your focus and overall performance.
  • It increases your endurance so you have an easier time finishing your workouts.
  • It provides you with a better pump. That is going to help you get better contractions and mind-muscle connection.
  • Some mixes do contain both BCAAs and creatine providing you with all the additional benefits they have.

5. Post-Workout / Recovery Drink

It’s usually the exact same thing as the pre-workout with only the ingredients being the main difference. You can mix it with any sorts of liquids. It is preferable to drink this supplement right after you finished your workout so it could have the best effect.

Why should you take post-workout for calisthenics

  • This is the fastest and easiest way to provide your body with all the post-workout nutrients it needs right after the workout.
  • Doing that is going to help a lot and speed up the recovery process.
  • It does also help a lot with post-workout fatigue and muscle soreness.
  • Recovery is responsible for all your results so this drink can also help you with strength, endurance, and size.
  • Very convenient and easy to take compared to a meal.

So these are my favorite calisthenics supplements I believe everybody needs to use.

Of course, you don’t need to take all of them together but if you have the available budget you could try.

Speaking about budget let’s see how much do all those supplements cost every month. 

Are they really worth the price?

Let’s find out!

Supplements and Calisthenics – How Much Does It Cost?

If you haven’t got any previous experience in supplements you are now probably thinking that this is not cheap.

Well if I have to be completely honest it isn’t that expensive either. 

The average price per 30 doses of most supplements costs you around $1 – $1.50 per dose. 

And it is recommended to take 1 dose per day.

If we do the math that’s a cost of about $1 – $1.50 per day or $30 – $45 per month per supplement.

Please Note: Have in mind that these prices may vary depending on the type of supplement, the brand and the number of doses you get. If you want to get the exact cost of something you have liked just change the numbers above.

If you want to use all 5 supplements at the same time every month that is going to cost you:

$30 x 5 = $150 , $45 x 5 = $225 or an average of about $200 per month.

For me, $200 is a lot of money and I personally wouldn’t spend that much every month for supplements but for some of you, this is nothing. 

If you are like me don’t get discouraged. 

You don’t really need to take a ton of supplements in order to have results. 

As a matter of fact, you saw that you can do very well without them and still achieve great progress.

Quick Tip: If you are on a very tight budget and you can afford to get only one supplement for calisthenics I would recommend you to buy protein powder.

If you are interested and want to buy one take a look at my article in which I share my 5 favorite protein powders for calisthenics.

Conclusion

How do you feel after you have reached this part?

Do you feel relieved? Angry? Happy? Sad?

I’m pretty aware that not all of you will agree with me but this article is written based on personal experience and science. Even if you don’t agree with me you can’t deny science, can you?

Now it’s entirely up to you if you want to buy supplements for calisthenics or not. 

If you have the available budget give them a try – they could certainly help. If you don’t, well it’s not that bad because you are still going to manage to get good results. 

Using supplements is a personal choice. It’s about you to decide if you want them or not.

What’s your opinion on supplements? 

  • Do you like them or not? 
  • Which ones do you use? 

Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with me. 

It would really be a lot for me if you share my work using one of the buttons below so more people can see it.

Thank you very much for being on my website. And of course, I hope to see you again!

See you soon,

– 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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