T Nation

Calisthenic Training vs. Any and All Others


What are your thoughts on this type of training (strictly bodyweight). This would include pushups, dips, chinups, handstand pushups, ect. Herschel Walker, drafted into the NFL in '85 and is now in MMA, is a clear example how this training technique can shape your body.

All replies are appreciated


There's no doubt in my mind that BW exercises are undervalued. Charles Poliquin calls the Chin Up the King of Upper Body exercises. I guess I like lifting weights too much to devote an entire program to BW exercises but I have no doubt they could offer a great workout alone.

In the essence of Doing More Work, I've incorporated a challenge "10,000 push ups in 28 days" (Along with HP Mass). It averages about 350 a day, I walk around semi pumped all day. 10 days in...Torso width 44 Inches to 46, whilst cutting bodyfat. I do them in sets of 15-20 varying the angle, perfect explosive form, sets last approx 30 seconds. Perhaps the same could be done with dips and chins etc...?

What do you think for the long term tuc? Perhaps after a while the stimulus would be too insignificant and you would start to work towards improving endurance and less strength. (Although perhaps endurance is your goal). Purely in terms of building an appreciable amount of muscle and shaping I have believe they could be optimal.


There's been some debate on whether Herschel Walker actually does what he says he does....I think he also claimed to only have one meal a day of bread, soup, and salad. LOL..complete violation of thermodynamics.

Anecdotally, I've seen plenty of people doing only calisthentics look fairly good with low body fat (e.g. ex gymnasts, the folks from BarBarians or the ghetto workout series, circus acrobats). Don't know how much genetics factor into the equation for these folks or whether they lift weights and you ignore that.

I've done the 100 chins/200 pushups program daily in the past and I guess I made some noticeable improvements after a month. I suspect this is not the ideal method for hypetrophy/aesthetics though... Otherwise I imagine all bodybuilders would just do high volume bodyweight pushups and pullups all day.


Nick, I would have to agree with you. The body, as it should, will adapt to the stress of your own BW and there is your plateau. I believe (I'm not talking through experience) that on your journey to this plateau, you can and will make huge gains. I'm highly interested in pursuing this type of training to see what it can do for me. A good mix between weight training and calisthenics may be the key. Possibly keeping the BW workout for upper body, hitting the weights for the lower body, and mixing it up for core. My ultimate goal is definition, not endurance at the moment. I would like to master the handstand pushups and all the other exersises in that position, so we'll see what happens.

I've never heard of this pushup challenge you mentioned but with your two inch gain in 10 days I'll have to test it. Did you get any more gains out of this in your bench, incline, ect?


To be brutally honest I've had no strength gains - However I have maintained every rep and weight I've ever lifted. In total I've dropped 15lbs of BW - Therefore you could argue that whilst no extra weight is on the bar I am pound for pound noticeably stronger.
One thing IMO is that the effects are positive, I feel primed for the HP Mass Workouts and my noticeably faster on the punch bag.


copying an athletes program wont give you the same body, I think CT already said it few times also... I know few guys in my gym looking like that while doing FLEX magazine routines, and I know few very strong real fighters actually, who do every drill under the sun, yet look just like average joe running few miles a day...