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Are calisthenics useless?

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Since at the moment I have no access to gym/weights/bars, dips and pushups are all I can do. My friend says these sort of bodyweight exercises are more like cardio in that they help you lose weight. They aren't muscle building...only free weights can build muscle.


If this is true, then do I stop doing dips and pushups? I am not that fat anyway, so cardio/losing fat isn't my goal. So am i wasting time with dips/pushups?

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no body movement is useless!


body movements are equivalent to strength training. lower weight, more reps = actual functional strength and definition. Not necessarily 'size'. But what good is being huge if you've not endurance/strength behind it? Throw in some pullups and abs and you'll be rocking it!


No equipment, no problem. Check out free runners like vegan badass Tim Shieff (youtube.com/livewire). Its not the size that matters, its what you do with it. Gym or no gym....TRAIN!!!!


As for your friend, what kinda shape is he/she in? Challenge them to push-up or pullup or dip contest, etc to make it interesting.

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  • 1 year later...

You could add weight to dips and pull ups (pull ups on a strong tree branch) by wearing a knapsack with some weight in it. Or make yourself a weight belt out of rope and tie a large rock or a bag of wet sand to it.


Do single-leg squats. Handstand press ups or press ups with your feet raised. Single-arm press ups. Pseudo planche press ups. Tuck planche press ups.

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Lol. There are so many beasts out there using calisthenics. Check out Hannibal for King, littlebeastm, calisthenicsmovement, fortress and so many more. Too many to list. Body weight movements are just as or are more effective in building muscle than weights, IMO. No gym needed to get jacked.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I agree with what's been said above. Calisthenics can be a great exercise to gain lean weight.


It's more about what kind of training you are doing. You can train for:


1. Hypertrophy ( the gainz)

2. Resistance / endurance

3. Strength/ power


Depending on the number of reps and sets, etc.


You can also use weighted vests, bands, etc if needed.

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  • 6 months later...

i think you can make decent gains with calisthenics, provided you do the right routine and don't expect to get completely jacked. but you can still build good muscle strength and some size.


i am in a similar situation without gym access so i do everything from home with body weight, dumbbells, and pullup bar.


with pushups and dips only, you are mainly hitting your chest/triceps. you are using other muscles in these movements since they are good compound exercises, but probably not getting enough focus on other body parts.


if you want to stick with body weight only, i would recommend doing a routine that emphasizes some other areas of your body other than your chest (legs, shoulders, abs, back). here are some good calisthenics moves to consider including:


-Pullups (find a local park with a pullup bar or buy one - this will be great for your back - increase reps or if reps get too high wear a backpack with some books in it for progression)

-Bodyweight rows (another one for your back - you will need a dip bar or a sturdy table or similar object to perform - wear a backpack with weights, books in it for progression)

-Pike pushups (great shoulder exercise - can progress to handstand pushups to really get your shoulders)

-Lateral raises (use milk jugs, shopping bags filled with weights if you have no weights to use - this is a good complementary shoulder exercise)

-Crunches, leg lifts, hanging leg lifts, dragon flags, etc. (for your abs - and if you want to get advanced try various plank/planche progressions, levers on pullup bars, etc.)

-Body weight bulgarian split squats (or lunges) (legs will be hard to develop with only calisthenics, but you can still do decent single leg exercises like this - progress to a pistol squat if you can for an advanced technique for your quads/glutes)

-Single leg deadlift (put heavy things in a bag and hold on either side of you, then do the single-leg deadlift - use bags, milk jugs, whatever if you have no dumbbells - this works your hamstrings/lower back/glutes)

-pushups/dips (you already do these - great for your chest)


feel free to add in some body weight calf raises (try with only one foot on the ground) or bicep curls (holding whatever heavy objects you have handy) to focus in on smaller muscles as desired.


this probably won't make you very huge but you can definitely add strength and endurance and get a lean muscle look this way. i'd recommend getting a pull up bar and cheap pair of adjustable dumbbells for your home if you really start to stick with things and want to progress in weights.

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