Can You Build Muscle With Only Calisthenics?

When people think of building muscle, they will tend to think about lifting weights. However, doing calisthenics is another fantastic way to build muscle. Instead of lifting free weights, you will be lifting your body weight. While you are doing calisthenics, you are adding muscle mass, thus increasing your weight, allowing you to keep building muscle. But the question remains, how do you build muscle with calisthenics?

Calisthenics is not only a fantastic way to lose weight and get in shape, but it can build quite a bit of muscle. However, when you want to build muscle with calisthenics, there are a few rules you need to stick to.

  • Push yourself further each time you workout
  • Eat tons of protein
  • Sleep at least 8 hours a night
  • Never give up or lose motivation

Following those rules will help you get jacked doing any exercise, but it especially applies to calisthenics. Not only that but there are many exercises that you will need to do to build muscle doing calisthenics. Some of these exercises include:

  • Pull-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Push-ups 
  • Crunches
  • Knee and Leg raises

These are just a few calisthenics workouts. There are tons of other calisthenics workouts that you can do. All of these workouts are proven to build muscle and are incredibly effective.

As you continue to read this article, we will go in-depth on the rules you need to follow while building muscle. Along with that, we will also describe each of the calisthenic workouts that we have listed above.

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How To Build Muscle With Calisthenics

When you want to build muscle, there are quite a few different exercises that you can do. Of course, lifting free weights is an excellent option. However, calisthenics is just as good while also being healthier. With that said, there are a few key rules that you need to adhere to when building muscle through any method. 

  1. Push Yourself Further Each Time You Workout

Due to the way muscles get stronger, you will not see strength gain unless you are pushing them harder. Do the same workout for an extended period. You will gain a small amount of muscle, but it will eventually stop. However, this is an excellent way to get cut and lean.

While this rule applies to all types of strength increases, it is especially so for calisthenics. Because you are relying on your body weight to increase your muscle mass, your strength gain will start to stagger or even flatline at a certain point.

To combat this, you will need to these steps:

  • Increase the reps each time you go to workout. For instance, if you are doing 10 pull-up reps each time you workout, do a minimum of 11 next time. Doing extra reps will add additional strain to your muscles, making them work harder.
  • Increasing the complexity of your exercises is another excellent way to increase strength through calisthenics. For example, instead of doing standard pull-ups, do a few typewriter pull-ups. Typewriter pull-ups (also known as around-the-world pull-ups) are much harder than traditional pull-ups. Instead of going straight up and down, you will go at an angle until your chest is in front of one of your hands. Instead of going back down, you will slide your body horizontally to your other hand before lowering yourself back down to the starting position.
  • Slowing down your reps will also increase your strength. Sometimes reps are not always the most important in strength training. A form of slower exercise is called negatives. For example, a negative pull-up starts as a traditional pull-up as you pull yourself up to the bar. However, when lowering yourself do so very slowly over 5 seconds. This will strain your muscles as they will fight to keep you suspended throughout the entire rep.
  • Doing failure sets is essential to increasing muscle strength with calisthenics. A failure set is where you continuously do reps until you fail to do a final rep. Sprinkling in failure sets to your exercise routine will increase your strength tremendously.
  • Finally, adding additional weight lifting equipment will also help you build strength with calisthenics. Once your body is at its limit, and you are breezing through additional reps and advanced exercises, it is time to add additional weight. Stuff like weighted clothing and a dip belt to suspend free weights below you as you do pull-ups or dips exercises will increase your muscle mass tremendously.
  1. Eating Tons Of Protein

When you are increasing your strength, you will need to eat a ton of protein. Protein is essential for muscle growth as it is the vitamin the muscles use to repair themselves. As you work out to increase your strength, you are essentially tearing your muscle fibers. Therefore, the increase in strength comes from your muscles repairing themselves. With that said, eating more protein will help decrease the healing time between workouts. 

Not only that but limiting carb intake to your last meal will also help your gains. Eating your daily carb intake as your last meal for the day will give you additional benefits for the next day.

  1. Sleep At Least 8 Hours A Night

Sleeping at least 8 hours a night is crucial to gaining muscle strength. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, your body will produce less testosterone. Testosterone is essential to muscle growth. Not only that, but without a good night’s sleep, you will have less energy and be less motivated to work out the next day. 

  1. Never Give Up Or Lose Motivation

When you are trying to get in shape, keeping your motivation is the most crucial rule. It would help if you stayed consistent to see results. Losing weight and building muscle requires a consistent schedule that you need to follow. Suppose you end up missing or skipping a day. In that case, it could significantly damage your motivation and prevent you from returning to your routine.

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Building Muscle With Calisthenics

When it comes to increasing your strength with calisthenics, there are tons of different exercises that you can do. Each of these exercises will not only build muscle but will tone them as well. Below will be a shortlist of the most common workouts that you will do while doing calisthenics

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  1. Push-ups

Push-ups are the most common form of calisthenics, mainly due to their ability to be done anywhere. Not to mention push-ups are the most straightforward calisthenics exercise. Push-ups are done to get in a quick chest and arm workout on the go, and some people even do them to help wake up in the morning. 

To do a proper push-up, you will need to get down onto the floor using your hand and toes to hold your body off the ground. Once you are in position, push your body up until your arms are fully extended, then lower yourself back down. A proper rep required your chest to be very close to the ground if not touching it. 

There are many different ways to do push-ups, from diamond push-ups and one-arm push-ups to decline and incline push-ups.

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  1. Crunches

Crunches are another calisthenics exercise that can be done anywhere, like push-ups. However, instead of working on your chest and arms, you work on your core and abdominal muscles.

The proper way to do crunches is just as simple as push-ups. First, lay down with your back on the floor and bring your feet closer to your body, raising your knees. Next, you can either interlock your hands behind your head or cross them over your body. Once you are ready, use your core to lift your upper body as close to your knees as possible before returning to the starting position.

Something to help you do crunches is to lock your feet in place by using them to hold your body in place. For instance, you can slide your feet under your bed or couch and use your toes to keep them in the proper position.

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  1. Knee and Leg Raises

Knee and leg raises are the first exercises that we will talk about that require some form of equipment. A prime example of a piece of equipment used to do knee and Leg raises is a power tower. Power towers have a captain’s chair where you hold your body off the ground using your arms. You can also do hanging knee and Leg raises by using a pull-up bar. 

Knee raises are the best exercise to work on your core muscles. However, while leg raises are incredibly similar, they are way less effective at working on your abs. Instead, Leg raises work on your lower back and your hips.

To properly do knee raises, you will need to hang from a pull-up bar or use the captain’s chair in a power tower. Once you are hanging in place, raise your legs to your chest while bending them at the knee. 

Leg raises are the same, except you keep your legs outstretched instead of bending them at the knee.

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  1. Pull-ups

Pull-ups are one of the most effective ways to build arm and back strength. However, by using a pull-up bar, you can change your grips to increase the difficulty of the exercise. While pull-ups seem simple to do, they are pretty tricky. The reason being is the way the exercise works and the muscles it requires.

The proper way to do a pull-up is to stand under a high bar and grasp it with a wide grip keeping your palms facing away from you. If you are touching the ground, bend your knees and cross your feet. Once you are ready, pinch your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up with your arms until the top of your chest touches the bar. 

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  1. Chin-ups

Chin-ups are incredibly similar to pull-ups. However, they are easier to do and require a slightly different setup. Instead of using a wide grip with your palms facing away from you, use a narrow grip facing you. This works on your biceps and uses your arms to do this exercise.

Final Thoughts

Calisthenics is a fantastic way to lose weight, get in shape, and build muscle. As long as you follow the rules we have listed at the beginning of this article, calisthenics will give you tons of lean muscle and increase your strength immensely.

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