Combining Strength Training & Progressive Calisthenics

Hi everyone, the question I have for you is can you mix powerlifting and progressive calisthenics successfully? Now I ask this question because for a while I’ve been studying the feats and history of Old-school strong men and found a lot of their strength was based in progressive calisthenics or Old-school calisthenics. This in turn lead me to the teachings of the Kavadlo brothers and a book called Convict Conditioning; needless to say I became hooked, so much that my main goal now is to hit the powerlifting 1RMs I’ve been chasing along with achieving feats such as plance pushups and 1-arm pull ups (to name a few) simultaneously.

So of course my main question for everyone is… how do you think I should approach this goal set? I’ve been running the 5/3/1 Method for almost a year now with great results but am having trouble figuring out the best way to blend the two styles of training. Now I’d say I’m a intermediate level lifter with about 6 years of experience so if I had to just keep my normal barbell training to just the 4-core lifts + alternating 1-2 assistance exercises and leave the rest of my training to the calisthenics I know how to strategize that. I also know that I’ll probably have to prioritize my training days which I have and have came up with the barest of bones template for this hybrid routine that looks something like this:


If you’re looking at this you’re might be thinking one or two things; first being that I have nothing specific planned for my calisthenics progressions well that’s because I’m still trying to figure out progressive calisthenics. I’m trying right now to follow the Convict Conditioning method for skill & strength progression but am continuing to read more and more articles and methods on how to achieve the same goals and am wondering if the Convict Conditioning way is the best way. This problem leads me to my second and probably most important question of… what is the best progressive/ old-school calisthenics program, and or progression method/ philosophy?
I know like in strength training with powerlifting there are a million ways to skin a cat when it comes to calisthenics strength but because there’s nobody I can go to for advice in this field (no gymnastics coaches or Kung-fu masters available) I’m trying to learn via books articles and Youtube. Oh… and I know the basics in progressive calisthenics are key trust me, time in the infantry sought to my mastering of the basic calisthenics movements.

Lastly I want to address rest, nutrition and CNS workload, in short I’ve been counting my macros for a while and make sure I get enough rest & sleep throughout the days and weeks also I try to keep my workouts brief but intense trying only to do 6 total exercises (not including core or grip work). So I’ve got recovery in mind and practice as well but I’m trying to experiment with Quasi-Isometrics as a finisher and am wondering id anyone’s had luck with isometrics before.

Anyways thanks to everyone who read all of this and left your advice in the replies, I know it was a pretty long post so again thanks for your time.

Honestly yes there is a way to do it. There’s a guy that used to post on here as alpha. Brian alsruhe is his name and he has a good YouTube channel. He is a strongman and most of his programs center around that. However it’s very simple to make a linear progressive B.B. program (5/3/1 for example) then have your accessory work be (feel not he blank) this is how he does his strong man training.

If you wanted to be able to do hand stand push ups make that an accessry lift on your press day.

This of course isn’t optimal to say get your bigs lifts to their peak. If getting better at squatting bench and deadlift are your goals everything you do has to be to make those things better. If you’re a newer though you could make progress this way very simply.

Reason I cited Brian is because a day in his training might looks like this

Deadlift sets and reps

Car deadlift

Farmer carries

Keg throws

So as you can see he has strongman in there but all of the movements kinda involve the same pattern as the deadlift. If you think about program design kinda like this I think you’ll be happy.

He has a video on this about strongman and mentions other specialties .how to do it etc. watch that and add your goals in the accessory movements. Good luck man.

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Calisthenics is pretty cool so I can see why both is appealing. I started with calisthenics myself. Can work in some ways. TLDR there are pros and cons. You may not progress at either as well or quickly as focusing more on one but if that’s what you enjoy it can work. Some thoughts:

Weighted dips and push ups are great accessory work for powerlifting building up bench pressing muscle.

Chin/pull ups are alright variations to building up the back for powerlifting purposes (coming from someone who can do a few reps with a few plates strapped to my nuts I love em but horizontal pulls probs have better carryover).

Pistol squats make solid accessory movements if the balance is right. If you keep powerlifting though at some point you’ll need to load them up with extra weight maybe barbell or hugging to your chest which may be an awkward limiting factor.

The core heavy movements in calisthenics like planches, levers and such could have a little carryover but powerlifting is kinda one dimensional in that it’s mostly bracing against forces trying to flex your spine. On the other hand building up muscle to powerlift better will make calisthenics harder. One of the best ways to progress towards achieving calisthenic movements like the one armed pull up is to lose weight so kinda opposites

Your body will only have so many resources to go around at any given time. Putting this energy or recovery capacity into things that may take away from each other is a bit inefficient. Other disciplines like strongman could benefit from the variety of challenges that calisthenics poses on the body but powerlifting less so. Might be better to do things in blocks where you focus on one area and line everything up so that it makes sense e.g.

Goal: 1 Arm Chin/Pull Up
Diet/Weight: Deficit + Weight Loss
Pulling Movements: Emphasised
Pushing Movement: Maintenance/Recovery
Lower Body: Maintenance/Recovery

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appreciate the feedback to be honest this was supposed to be a draft that accidentally got posted but again thanks for the solid advice

Good morning Neon 777…

I know this is an old post and sorry for the thread bump but your journey almost mirrors mine. I too am interested in the effective combination of progressive calisthenics and weight training. I also have been using “Convict Conditioning” in conjunction with some power lifting. What has helped me and I think you mentioned this as well is that I keep it as “bare bones” as possible. It has helped me to have an “A” and “B” structure where I focus on progressive calisthenics with my “A” workouts and focus on weight training with my “B” workouts.

I took the “good behavior” template of “Convict Conditioning” and combined it with a general “big 3” barbell template of my own. I have a total of 6 workouts used over a 2 week or every-other-day period.

If you are interested in talking about combining progressive calisthenics and weight training some more. Please note that I’m more than available and hope to learn how you are progressing with your methods. I would be interested in learning any ways I could improve on my end in effective combination of both methods.