Lift Random Things to Build Muscle and Strength with Calisthenics? (Hard Truth)

Your body doesn’t care or recognise rocks from a weighted vest so yes, you can build a lot of strength and muscle by lifting random things. Here’s exactly how to do it.

What you will learn

  • What are weighted calisthenics? (vs Normal Bodyweight training)
  • Does your body really need specific equipment in order to build muscle and strength?
  • Should you buy equipment for weighted calisthenics? (Or use free and cheap things)
  • What random things you can use for calisthenics (My experience)
  • How to use extra weights to build muscle and strength with calisthenics (With Example)

What are weighted calisthenics? (vs Normal Bodyweight training)

Weighted calisthenics are simply all bodyweight exercises that are done while using any type of extra weight for more resistance.

You can add extra weight or add additional resistance and make every bodyweight exercise harder. (resistance bands, weighted vest, wrist and ankle weights, backpack full with heavy stuff, chain, etc.)

Some of the most popular exercises which you can do and add weight are:

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Dips
  • Sit-Ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Squats
  • etc.

If you are using only your own weight as resistance then you are doing regular or normal calisthenics. 

But in order to be able to do weighted calisthenics you will have to have the strength and stamina to do at least 15-20 repetitions with proper form without any added weight or resistance.

After you reach this point you start to add some type of extra weight or resistance so you can barely do around 8-12 repetitions with good form. 

In time you are going to get stronger and bigger and you will keep slowly increasing the extra weight.

So with weighted calisthenics you are going to get a lot stronger and bigger compared to only using your bodyweight. 

The more weight you add, the more strength and muscle you are going to build.

Does your body really need specific equipment in order to build muscle and strength?

Even if I personally own and use resistance bands, gymnastic rings, weighted vest and ankle weights, you don’t really need any of them to build muscle and strength with calisthenics.

What you really need is some type of object or objects that are going to provide you with enough resistance against gravity so you can do between 6 and 12 repetitions with good form.

Your muscle fibers don’t know or care about what they are lifting or fighting against.

You can literally add rocks in an old backpack and still achieve the same results as wearing a weighted vest when doing pull-ups and push-ups.

The only real and important difference is comfort.

Should you buy equipment for weighted calisthenics? (Or use free and cheap things)

Once you know the real truth about calisthenics equipment you need to ask yourself 2 questions.

  • Do I want to be comfortable while training, save time and reuse the object I train with?
  • Can I pay for it? 

If you have the money, are serious about training ,have a long term vision and want to be comfortable when you train then by all means buy yourself at least a pull-up bar (the most basic equipment for your home gym).

What you will need for weighted calisthenics:

Here’s a list of all the calisthenics equipment I own:

What random things you can use for calisthenics (My experience)

If you are broke, don’t have any money to spend on equipment and don’t care about convenience I would recommend you to use the following random things for weighted calisthenics:

  • Use old backpack filled with bottles of water or sand, small rocks or even books (or anything else) 
  • Use concrete bricks, logs, rocks, metal pipes or anything you can hold as a bar/dumbbell
  • Make yourself some concrete plates/dumbbells and insert them into the backpack (Check this video for example)
  • Use old inner bike tube or something similar and stretchy instead of resistance bands
  • Go to free public workout playgrounds where you can have access to a pull-up bar and dip bars (do a Google search, ask somebody or do a local search)
  • Look around and use anything you can see as a pull-up bar (straight tree branch, hanging pipe or anything you can hold that is steady)
  • Use old chain/s for pull-ups and dips (make sure to clean them from rust beforehand)
  • Use your imagination and all the objects you own or can find for free

These are some of the ways I used to train when I was starting out and didn’t have any money as a teenager.

Trust me, they do work and you can really get very strong and big with any of them if you are out of cash.

How to use extra weights to build muscle and strength with calisthenics (With Example)

Let’s say you can do 20 push-ups with good form, slow tempo without any extra weight.

In order to get stronger and add more muscle you need to do between 8-12 reps in order to achieve muscle hypertrophy [1].

So you need to test yourself, write somewhere and find out exactly how much weight/resistance you need to add to your push-ups so you can do between 8-12 reps without losing the correct form and tempo.

For example that could be a 5 lbs plate (2.5 kg) to your weighted vest or 1 bottle filled with water/sand inside your backpack. (the resistance/weight depends on the equipment).

Do the exact same thing for all the exercises you are doing and write everything down somewhere. (to track progress)

From there aim to become stronger in every movement and progress by increasing that weight, or by doing more reps, more sets or lowering the rest time between the exercises.

Remember that the stronger you become, the more muscle and size you are going to get if you eat, sleep and train correctly.

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