Calisthenics Can’t Build Big Muscles

Check out my client Omar’s transformation where he put on a whole bunch of muscle

Can calisthenics really build muscle or is it just an overhyped idea that falls drastically short of the results we can expect from weight training.

This is the topic of today’s video……..weight training versus calisthenics, not my opinion, but what do the studies have to say.

Which ones best for building muscle and achieving that lean aesthetic body?

First, let’s start with the fact that there’s proof that both of these approaches can produce some pretty amazing results.

With Bodyweight training, we got people like Frank Medrano, Chris heria, and Hannibal for a king.

And all of them developed really great physiques with an emphasis on body weight training.

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Gymnasts, especially those that use the rings, are another great example of how body weight training can build a very nice physique.

With weight training, you have a lot of different styles that produce Different results. You have natural bodybuilding And physique competitors.

They use weight training to produce really aesthetic results with a primary focus on the way the muscles look rather than their functionality.

And you also have high-intensity interval resistance training or hurt in programs like CrossFit that also produce great physiques.

Even if you hate CrossFit you can’t deny that it produces some pretty shredded athletes.

So we know that it’s possible to build a great body with or without weights but which way is best and which way will get us to build muscle the fastest?

Well to answer this question we have to look at what makes a natural lifter continuously build muscle?

And the answer to that is a little something known as Progressive overload. Which is essentially incrementally increasing the difficulty of your workouts for your body to adapt with improved strength and muscle gains.

There are four factors that we can manipulate to achieve Progressive overload. Frequency intensity volume and time.

Frequency is the number of days that you would work out, and time is the amount of time spent during one workout.

So these two factors we’re going to ignore because we’re going to pretend that we want to spend the same exact amount of time on both body weight training and weight training.

Volume is the total amount of work that you’re doing based on reps and sets. Intensity is usually measured by the weight load or amount of force that’s put on the muscles.

With weight training, it’s very easy to increase the intensity and it’s also very easy to track your increases in intensity.

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This is done simply by adding more weight to the exercise performed. With calisthenics, you can increase intensity as well, but it’s not quite as simple.

For example, you can start with a push up on your knees, eventually progress to a regular bodyweight push-up, then get to an inclined push-up which will transfer more weight to your upper body, and finally move on to a handstand pushup.

After the handstand pushup, it’s going be hard for you to find ways to increase intensity. Volume, on the other hand, can very easily be used in a calisthenics program to progressively overload your muscles.

So you can always add more sets and reps of pushups, but there is a limit to how much bodyweight you can add to this movement.

So with weight training, we have the advantage of being able to manipulate intensity infinitely.

In a study published in 2015 they compared the effects of high volume resistance training versus high-intensity resistance training

and they found that the higher intensity group stimulated significantly  greater strength gains for a 1 rep max bench press,

and their lean arm mass gains were also greater when compared to the moderate intensity, high-volume program group.

Even though this study isn’t comparing calisthenics to weight training directly, we can say that a higher intensity or heavier load stimulates more muscle mass than a moderate load.

And again in terms of manipulating intensity, the advantage goes to weight training.

This study pretty much throws away the argument that you can achieve just as much muscle gains with lighter weight,

more reps and sets within the same amount of time as you could with heavier weight.At least for the upper body.

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So increasing your total reps for pushups per day may not be as effective as progressively using a heavier weight load to build muscle in your upper body.

The study, however, does mention that for the lower body both groups showed similar gains.

They mention that more studies are needed and that a longer period could reveal differences in the lower body muscle gains.

Also, there are two other earlier studies one in 2002 and another in 2014 that concluded that high intensity and high volume groups achieved the same muscular adaptions.

So the studies disagree with each other and kind of support both sides. Unfortunately, the only study that I was able to find that compared calisthenics to weight training directly involved a comparison of calisthenics to light weight training for the lower body.

Both the weight training group and the calisthenics group got the same results, however, I would love to see a study where they compared the calisthenic group to a high-intensity weight training group.

Until the results are mixed on this topic. So here’s my two cents based on my experience. Calisthenics and Weight training deliver two completely different things, and each has its advantages.

With calisthenics, your going to increase your balance, coordination, flexibility, functional strength, isometric strength, & core strength in a way that will beat most weight training programs.

Calisthenics is excellent for those that are more so interested in their athletic performance and functionality rather than just aesthetics.

That’s not to say you can’t have a great body with calisthenics, because you obviously can.

However, if your goal is to strictly aim for that aesthetic muscular look and you don’t care about functionality or athleticism at all then weight training will probably serve you better.

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With weights, you have the ability to increase the intensity and isolate muscle fibers in a way that would be impossible with calisthenics.

Bodybuilding competition is where people are evaluated strictly based on their physiques and muscular symmetry,

and most bodybuilding competitors to this day, primarily use weight training over calisthenics.

So if you want a bodybuilder type body go for the weight training approach. If you want a lean, functional, and athletic body that isn’t all show go for the calisthenics.

And I’m gonna let you in on a little secret………YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE! Guys, I do both weight training and calisthenics.

Since there are such great benefits from both why not incorporate both. People get into this argument over which one is best and they try to take a side.

I think it’s a much better idea to use both to maximize your results. Calisthenic exercises like pull-ups, dips, or pushups can be made so much better by adding weight.

And even though barbell squats are great you won’t get the same benefits from weighted squats that you can get from calisthenic exercises like box jumps or plyometric lunges.

They each have their benefits. The main benefit that I would attribute to weight training especially heavy weight training is that it’s the best way to strengthen your muscles quickly

which theoretically should help you increase progressive overload, increase protein synthesis and pack on muscle mass faster.

With calisthenics you’re going to build true functional applicable strength that will carry over to real life a lot better than your traditional weight training program, also with calisthenics, you can do it anywhere.

That’s it guys I really hope this tip has helped you out. If you enjoyed it make sure to visit my website gravity transformation.com where you can find done for you programs that are proven to work. see you guys soon.

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My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first gym in 2011, Gravity Training Zone. I'm now in the process of opening up my third location! I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with over 1,000,000 subscribers! I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to support@gravitychallenges.com

Founder // Gravity Transformation, Max Posternak

1.”In a study published in 2015, they compared the effects of high volume resistance training versus high-intensity resistance training”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562558/

2.”Also there are two other earlier studies one in 2002

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11834103/

3.and another in 2014″

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24714538

4.” the only study that I was able to find that compared calisthenics to weight training directly involved a comparison of calisthenics to light weight training for the lower body”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12930192

2019-06-22T23:25:33-04:00