I was giving my best.
I was eating healthy, working out regularly and giving my best all day long.
But still nothing.
This was probably the sixth or seventh week of me following my usual daily training regime and doing everything exactly as I was supposed to do but still nothing…
For some reason, it wasn’t working.
My usual bodyweight exercises have stopped giving me any results.
And nothing I tried could help me…
Maybe Ivan was right.
Maybe I had to finally try something new. Something fresh and different.
Obviously I couldn’t try it on my own again because nothing I tried worked.
That was leaving me with only one solution.
I had to ask for help.
After explaining my problems to a couple of my friends I learned that the main issue why I wasn’t gaining any new progress wasn’t the fact that I was doing only calisthenics.
The answer was rough but simple:
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
I really thought I knew everything pretty well but reality had shown me the hard truth. But my ego couldn’t let go.
It wanted to fight!
“That’s not true! I completely understand what I have to do!” – I told loudly for my defense trying to protect my injured ego.
“Year right… If that’s true then why there are so many jacked calisthenics athletes, gymnasts and regular people who have way better physiques and results than you?” – asked a friend
“Because…” while I was trying to think for a smart answer my friend continued
“Because they really know what are they doing but you don’t. You do random exercises you have found on the web, have no real plan and don’t care. Bro, you are destined to fail.“
The truth wasn’t pleasant to hear. I was trying to continue talking but closed my mouth.
F*ck maybe he was right. Maybe I sucked horribly at this.
But if that’s true that doesn’t help me solve the real mistery.
What’sthe main difference between all people that see great results and me?
Suddenly two words popped in my head: Experience and knowledge.
I obviously didn’t have the experience compared to the majority of the advanced athletes but I could learn the required knowledge.
Yay, here’s a nice start!
But how to do it?
Where to start?
How is calisthenics enough to build muscle, strength, and size?
What is the best way to gain all the missing pieces of the puzzle?
Oh man, I had so many questions but still no answers.
But I knew one thing for sure:
I had to find a solution to all my problems.
And I had to do it FAST…
Hi there, my name is Bozhidar and I’m the dude that had a big problem with building muscle and strength with calisthenics.
But not anymore.
If you want to find the truth I highly recommend you to keep reading because in the next couple of chapters you are going to learn:
- Is only calisthenics enough to build muscle, size, and strength?
- What are the 3 stages of your muscle-building journey with calisthenics?
- How to speed up a lot your results and make sure you are going to get bigger and better no matter what.
- The most effective way to include additional resistance and how it could help you.
- What is the best equipment you can buy and why?
- and much more
And this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Let’s see what’s hidden deep underneath the water…
Is Only Calisthenics Enough to Build Muscle, Strength, and Size?
Here’s the short and boring answer to this question:
Yes, you can build a great physique with a lot of strength, size, and muscle mass only by using your body weight as resistance as far as you really know what you are doing, follow a good workout plan, eat enough food and sleep well.
Sadly doing it is not as easy as it sounds.
But it’s not impossible.
Here’s exactly how I did it…
After all my weak arguments were completely destroyed by Ivan and a couple of my other friends in the group I was left only with a wounded ego and no clear solution to my problem.
“Okay, okay I finally get it. Obviously my plan sucks so can you guys help me create a new one?” – I asked
“Finally some common sense! Look I can’t really help you with that but I know a very good calisthenics program that could.” – Ivan responded
“From what I’ve heard it’s called Bar Brothers The System and it’s really good.” – Ivan responded.
And that was everything I really needed.
After learning more about this program I’ve decided to check it out from the official site and finally, I bought it.
At first, I wasn’t super optimistic about all the promises but as weeks started to gone by I slowly was beginning to change my mind.
The program was actually working and I was getting what it promised.
After 2 months of following it, I had become bigger and stronger only with the help of my body weight and some basic equipment.
I couldn’t really believe it.
Could it be that simple?
Only buy a good program and you are done?
Yes I know it sounds funny but that’s what happened with me.
But the moral of the whole story is this:
In order for you to build more muscle, strength, and size you must have a solid workout program designed to help you slowly progress using different techniques and tricks.
Of course, that’s not the only factor of my success but was this was the biggest piece of the puzzle I was missing.
And that’s exactly why I highly recommend you to learn more about Bar Brothers The System by reading my in-depth review from here <<
I truly believe this program could really help you build more muscle and size only with the help of your body weight.
But even with the best program available, you will not get your maximum potential if you are not doing these few things…
What you need to do in order to build Muscle, Strength, and Size with Calisthenics
In order for me to build a lot of muscle and strength, I had to try many different things.
Some of them were actually working while others were a complete waste of time.
That’s why I’ve decided to separate my whole journey and experience into 3 different stages separated by the level of difficulty.
Every stage comes with its own and unique tips and tricks that can help you a lot.
I highly recommend you to keep reading because these few tips can save you weeks and months of complete misery and failure.
Here are the 3 stages of calisthenics I’m going to share with you:
- Stage 1: Only using bodyweight (Beginner)
- Stage 2: Adding additional resistance (Intermediate)
- Stage 3: Doing weighted calisthenics (Advanced)
Here is everything you need to know…
Stage 1: Only using bodyweight
We all start from this stage and sadly most of us get stuck and see no results.
This is why I call this section “the beginner’s stage”.
Have you ever heard of the phrase: Noob gains?
This is the time where the majority of complete beginners see tremendous improvements in their physiques and strengths levels for a short period of time.
Sadly this constant progress comes to a stop only after a few weeks or months.
And if you don’t know what to do when that happens you are screwed.
No more gains. No more strength. No more results.
Luckily for you, there are a couple of things you can do to avoid that common pitfall.
Here’s what to do…
What are you going to need?
In order for your hard-earned muscles to keep growing you have to do these 2 things:
- Invest in a solid workout program
- Find or buy some basic equipment you are going to need
Let’s find out…
1. Invest in a solid calisthenics workout program
Paying $40-$50 bucks for a good workout program is one of the smartest decisions you could do.
I know that it’s not easy to invest $50 bucks if you are low on cash but doing this simple thing could save you many weeksand months of headaches, frustration, and fear.
The biggest reason why I highly recommend you to follow a solid course is because it’s the same as having a personal trainer to help you in the gym.
If the workout program is good you don’t have to do anything apart from following the workouts.
You are almost guaranteed to have positive results as far as you are doing the hard work.
If you have $47 bucks available and are looking for a solid calisthenics program to follow I highly recommend you to check Bar Brothers The System.
If you want to learn more about it and see my actual results after 3 months of usage click here to read my honest review <<.
2. Find or buy some basic equipment you are going to need
One of the best ways to build more muscle and strength only by using your body weight is to include basic exercises you can do on basic workout equipment.
Here are the 2 vital pieces you must have:
- A pull-up bar
- Dip bars
Let’s find out why you need them…
If you are into calisthenics you must have access to a good pull-up bar!
If you don’t have any access you are missing a lot.
Doing calisthenics without a pull-up bar is like playing basketball without a ball.
Depending on where you live try and find where is the nearest pull-up bar located.
If you do find a bar consider yourself lucky because there’s nothing better than doing a solid upper body workout outside on a warm sunny day.
Sadly there is not a happy ending for everyone.
For all of you who don’t have access to such pleasure nearby don’t lose hope.
You can still get yourself a really nice pull-up bar for your home under $60.
Even if I have access to a bunch of outdoor pull-up bars I still invested in this one:
Because this is my favorite piece of equipment when the weather is bad, I’m sick or I’m simply too lazy to go outside.
(it takes 10 minutes in each direction…)
If you want to check out my pull-up bar please click this link.
It’s a nice and affordable bar that is perfect for any medium height room.
Dip bars are great. With their help, you can train your chest, triceps, abs and even back.
And let’s not forget that dips are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do.
And what is the main thing you need in order to do dips?
Yep, its dip bars.
But let’s be real here.
You can do way more useful things than just dips.
If you own dip bars you can also do:
- Reverse pull-ups
- Leg raises
- Front lever
- Back lever
- and much more
Damn, that’s a lot of things right?
But let’s not forget that in order to have the freedom to do all those exercises you need to have access to dip bars.
Sadly dip bars are way harder to find than the regular pull-up bar.
That’s why there is a great chance that you won’t have any near the place where you live.
If that’s the case my recommendation is going to be to buy yourself a nice pair of portable dip bars.
Don’t worry, they are not expensive and are really necessary because with their help you can build a lot of muscle and strength in your upper body if you know how to use them.
If you are interested in owning a pair of portable dip bars check out my favorite ones.
These bad boys are lightweight, adjustable and high enough so you can do all those exercises I have listed above without any issues.
How to use your bodyweight to build size and strength?
The biggest gains I got were when I really focused on my form and technique.
Even if you are only using your body weight as resistance that doesn’t mean you can’t build muscle or strength.
But in order to do so you need to focus on a couple of things:
1. Use progressive overload – If your main goal is to build muscle then you have to focus on improving your strength and stamina.
Aim to do more reps in a shorter amount of time. In order to keep the progress going, you would have to push your body to the limit.
If that means one more rep or 5 more seconds ignore the pain and to it.
No pain – no gain.
2. Use all the equipment you have – If you have a pull-up bar master all the movements on it. If you have dip stations do the exact same thing. If you have gymnastic rings available make them glued to your hands.
Even if you don’t like a specific piece of equipment push yourself and use it. That’s how real progress is made – by doing uncomfortable things you don’t like.
3. Use gravity – If you want to build a lot of muscle mass and strength then you have to use your biggest ally – gravity.
It’s really amazing how more difficult you can make almost every exercise by simply tweaking an angle or changing your hands’ position.
If you are doing something that is too easy for you try finding a more advanced version of it. And don’t forget that in order for you to build more muscle you have to do advanced and hard stuff.
Stage 2: Adding additional resistance
Is it hard for you to feel real resistance only by using your body weight without having to do over 15 reps?
It the answer to this question is yes, then you are perfect for this stage.
If you can easily do at least 20-30 push-ups, 20-25 dips and 15 pull-ups keep reading because these next tips are going to make sure that you don’t get stuck.
Let’s find out how you can use additional resistance in order to build more muscle mass and strength…
What are you going to need?
In order for you to get enough additional resistance in order to get bigger I highly recommend you to get these 2 things:
- Resistance bands
- Gymnastic rings
Here’s what makes them so effective…
1. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are the holy grail of extra resistance.
With the help of a few bands, you can easily increase the level of difficulty of multiple exercises, warm-up your whole body and even use them for additional assistance.
And the best thing is that they are very lightweight and portable making them an excellent addition to carry around anywhere you go.
You can anchor them almost anywhere and transform even the simplest exercises like push-ups to feel like living hell.
That’s why I believe that they are the number one piece of equipment you really need if you want to continually get bigger and stronger and take things on the next level.
If you are interested and looking to buy a nice set of resistance bands I highly suggest you take a closer look at the ones I use here.
These bands are excellent for both beginners and intermediate athletes and can help you in a ton of different ways.
2. Gymnastic rings
Even if gymnastic rings aren’t directly providing you with extra resistance like bands they are still a great investment.
As a matter of fact, gymnastic rings are really tough.
Even if they don’t look so they can really kick your ass.
Don’t believe me? Find a pair and try to do a muscle-up.
Looks hard right?
In addition to that, these rings are also highly adjustable and are an excellent way to instantly increase the amount of resistance for your upper body.
Plus let’s not forget the fact that you can easily carry them inside a backpack and attach them almost anything you can think of.
If you want to try some solid rings my recommendation is going to be to go for these ones.
In my opinion, they have everything you really want and can help you build a lot more muscle and strength.
How to use your resistance to build size and strength?
The most efficient way is to create a specific training workout routine that is based around your calisthenics equipment.
Example 1: If you own a couple of resistance bands include them in all your exercises where you feel like you can do more than 10-12 reps.
Example 2: If you own a set of gymnastic rings do all your pull-ups, chin-ups, muscle-ups and abs exercises using them.
Your overall goal should be to increase your intensity by making every single rep you do more difficult and challenging.
The stronger and better you become, the more muscle mass you will build.
Another main factor of building muscle mass is time under tension.
In order for you to build the biggest amount of muscle, you need to aim for at least 30 to 60 seconds of time under tension per set.
In order to do this, you have to do every rep for a speed of about 3 seconds.
Here’s a nice example of how a 3-second pull-ups look like:
Stage 3: Doing weighted calisthenics
Out of all 3 stages, this is the hardest one.
If you have a lot of strength and experience you are going to love this stage.
This is the place where the biggest results are made.
It’s not unknown that weighted calisthenics is one of the best ways to get bigger and stronger but in order to do so, you are going to need specific equipment.
Let’s see exactly what I’m talking about…
What are you going to need?
If you are serious about calisthenics and want to take things on the next level then you are going to need to buy those 2 things:
- A weighted vest
- A set of dumbbells
1. Weighted vest
One of the most convenient ways to add resistance to almost any exercise imaginable is to wear a weighted vest.
Yes, this piece of equipment is so versatile that you can use it for many other physical activities as well.
But even if it’s super effective wearing a weighted vest is not for everybody.
This product is designed for people that already have some strength and power.
It’s proven that progressive overload is one of the most efficient ways for you to build more muscle and using a weighted vest can provide exactly that.
That’s why it’s really important for you to seek vests that are highly adjustable and easy to use.
If you want to take you weighted calisthenics on a whole new level take a look at my personal vest by using this link.
It’s a really compact vest that has everything you really need.
2. Set of dumbbells
Set of dumbbells? What? Are you serious?
Before you start roasting me hear me out.
I’ve decided to include this item here because with dumbbells you can isolate all your muscles and target them specifically.
And that is something you can’t do by doing calisthenics.
During my body transformation, I had a lot of lacking muscle groups but instead of complaining and making all types of excuses I simply used my dumbbells to target everything with different isolation exercises. (here’s a great list to start with)
That’s exactly why I adjustable dumbbells extremely important for more advanced people.
If you are looking for a nice set of dumbbells you can use at home that has enough weight I highly recommend you to take a look at these ones.
They are very similar to the ones I use and can provide you with enough resistance for almost anything you can imagine.
How to use weighted calisthenics to build size and strength?
The main tip I can give you is to focus on your rep speed instead of the total number of repetitions.
After all, you are training for muscle mass, not agility!
Aim for slow and controlled movements that can provide you with enough resistance so you give your best during your workouts.
As you become bigger and stronger slowly start incorporating heavier and heavier weights in order to keep up with your progress.
Keep doing this over a long period of time and eventually, you will become huge and strong as Hulk:
With that being said we are almost done.
But before we go, I have one more thing I want to share with you…
So is only calisthenics enough to help you build more muscle, strength, and size?
It can be but it also can’t.
As I have already told you the results you are going to get entirely depend on your skills, equipment, knowledge and previous experience.
Remember that you are the person who has complete control over your results and progress.
That’s why I highly recommend you to use all the tips I have shared and turn them into something useful.
And don’t forget to take a look at my Bar Brothers The System review if you are looking for a solid calisthenics workout program that can make you look like Superman in no time.
Ok, you won’t look like Superman but you are going to look extremely well and could possibly go for casting for the next big DC movie. Yep, I’m 100% serious.
If you don’t want to become the next Superman but want to get more knowledge take a look at my other highly related calisthenics posts:
- Does Calisthenics Make You Bigger, Stronger and Leaner?
- Will I Lose Muscle By Doing Calisthenics?
- Where Is The Best Place To Do Calisthenics?
- Why You Should Learn Calisthenics?
- Calisthenics: What To Learn First?
If you liked what you read and find it useful please let me know in the comment section below.
Thank you very much for reading my blog post.
Hope to see you again!
And don’t forget: May the pull-up bar be with you,
Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I’m a certified online personal trainer with University Degree in Sports and Nutrition.
With the help of my knowledge and over 8 years of workout experience, I can help you get on the next level. I own a home gym, do calisthenics, little gymnastics, and love to ride a bike.