Home » Can A Bodybuilder Do Calisthenics? | Let’s Find Out

Can A Bodybuilder Do Calisthenics? | Let’s Find Out

Bodybuilding and calisthenics are two main parties in a debatable topic in a lot of forums. Calisthenics enthusiasts are trying to pop up their training method while gym trainers are arguing to prove their training methods. 

But the real question is can a bodybuilder do calisthenics? This question can be answered in two ways according to the intention of the questioner. 

Can A Bodybuilder Do Calisthenics?

If you are asking whether a bodybuilder can perform those amazing calisthenics movements like human flags, planche, front levers only after training their gym oriented bodybuilding workouts, answer to that question is most of the time it’s impossible. 

To perform movements like planche, human flag, athletes need good training for proprioception, coordination, balance and good muscle memory and strength throughout their anterior and posterior chains.

As I mentioned earlier “Can a bodybuilder do calisthenics?” question can be asked with another intention. That’s whether a bodybuilder can incorporate calisthenics to build their body or not. 

Answer to that is, of course yes a body builder can use calisthenics to build their body. You can build muscles and get buff with calisthenics. We’ll look at how to do that through this guide.

Cons of doing only bodybuilding without calisthenics

There are many disadvantages of doing only bodybuilding without calisthenics. 

Cons of machine oriented muscle isolation

In gym training we can isolate and train muscles. It seems like a good thing and yes it is good for some purposes. But there’s a blind side of that isolated muscle training also.

One fact is we just train a muscle group repetetively using one movement. As an example in biceps curl we repetetively contract and relax bicepc muscle in standing position or some sort of stable position. 

With biceps curl we don’t give a huge stress to other muscles of the body other than arm muscles. But when it comes to functional activities in day to day life we need strenght and endurance of many other muscles along with biceps as a chain to do activities. 

Because of that just isolating and pumping muscles will not much helpful when it comes to day to functional activities. But that isolation is grow and define muscle groups, ofcourse that’s helpful for posing in bodybuilders competitions. 

Trying to train all the muscle groups in same amounts.

This is also a bit common practice I’ve seen among local body builders. I think this happens due to lack of proper knowledge and guidance. They try to train all the muscle groups in the body under same amounts of tensions, but that’s not necessary and that can cause adverse effects also.

As an example the training we are giving tp larger muscle groups like quads and lats will not needed for forearm and handmuscles. 

If we try to push harder all of the muscles in same amounts that can leads to injuries as well as imbalances in the body. 

We should train whole body equaly. But not in same amounts of tensions. As an example if we do a planche in calisthenics, a chain of muscles are activating but in different tensions. 

If you have a good instructor in bodybuilding he/she will be able to guide you properly for a balanced workout. Otherwise you may train some muscle groups unnecessarily and get into inuries with machine oriented muscle isolations.

Overall fitness of bodybuilders.

Fitness consists of many components not only muscle strenght but also muscle endurance, cardiovascular endurance, body composition, flexibility, agility and so on.

But in body building common mistake we see is athlete just trying to get buff. For that steriods also use. 

As a sport we can’t say it’s a healthy sport. Cardio vascular endurance, body compositions, balance and coordination like facts are not in their buckets. 

So this  kind of acts are not hugely appreciate by health care professionals. With an sport we expect the improvement of overall fitness level of the athlete. 

If it destroys the health and fitness of athletes we need to re-evaluate it and modify those training methods to get a better outcome from bodybuilding. That’s where calisthenics comes to the support.

Advantages of calisthenics for a bodybuilder

Nomatter whether you are already in bodybuilding or you are looking to do bodybuilding soon, you can benefit from calisthenics. 

If you already follow a gym workout routine you don’t have to stop it. You can incorporate a couple of simple calisthenics movements like pull ups or triceps dips to your routine at the start. 

With that you’ll be able to improve overall functional movements as well as your cardiovascular endurance also. Your buffed muscles from gym training will easily adapt to work as a chain when you incorporate a couple of calisthenics workout to it. 

Main reason for this is that calisthenics consists of compound movements. If you practice calisthenics your body has to work as a one unit/chain to perform those movements perfectly. That means automatically you’ll develop balance,coordination and proprioception with calisthenics.

So that you can easily increase the overall fitness inside you as a bodybuilder by incorporating calisthenics to your gym workout in no time.

Can you build muscles with calisthenics?

Yes, you can build muscles with calisthenics if you follow a proper workout program specifically designed for increasing the muscle bulk. 

Here I emphasize the fact that the workout program should be specific to increase the muscle bulk. Because the program should consist of a full body workout, proper amount of reps and sets that are specific to grow the muscle bulk, proper amount of holding times in one rep and most importantly proper rest and diet. 

If you don’t have this kind of specific programme to build muscle bulk you only end up with increasing the strength or endurance with just a lean muscle mass. You’ll understand why I’m saying so with the table below. 

GoalRequired setsRequired Repetitions
To improve muscle strength2 – 4 sets1 – 5 Reps
To improve muscle bulk (hypertrophy)3 – 6 sets6 – 12 Reps
To improve muscle endurance 5 – 10 setsMore than 12 reps

Above table is created based on the scientific evidence that has up to now. I’d like to cite a research based evidence below for your reference.

“For individuals seeking to maximize muscle growth should be hypertrophy-oriented RT consisting of multiple sets (3−6) of six to 12 repetitions with short rest intervals (60 s) and moderate intensity of effort (60−80% 1RM) with subsequent increases in training volume (12–28 sets/muscle/week)”ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

How to Gain muscles with calisthenics  

So far I hope you got an understanding of how a bodybuilder can gain advantages from calisthenics and I told you how you can incorporate a couple of calisthenics movements to your existing gym workout routine.

But if you are a complete beginner and looking to start bodybuilding I’ll show you a simple calisthenics workout routine to start your bodybuilding journey. 

Even if this starts with calisthenics, I believe you have to incorporate weights accordingly at later stages to get better results. Because progressive overloading is an important fact in body building. 

Rather than doing pure calisthenics or pure weight training, you can get faster and better results by combining those two in the correct way. 

Beginner calisthenics workout to start bodybuilding 

Keep in mind that this is just a starting point and you have a long way to go with progression. If I tell you I can give all of you a workout that works perfect for you, it’s a lie. 

Because everyone is different. Body compositions, activity levels, genes, strengths and weaknesses are different. So it’s impossible to give one workout routine that works perfectly for everyone. 

But we can start with something small and modify according to strengths. Putting the first step is the hardest but important thing. So keep that in mind and check the below workout. 

Warm up

Before starting your workout, warm up your body with running/ jogging or with a cardiovascular machine like bike/treadmill (if you have access) for 5 – 8 minutes. 

You don’t have to spend too long warming up. 5 – 8 minutes is more than enough. Warming up prior to a workout is important to prepare your body and mind for the workout. 


You can use a simple stretching routine to cover your whole body including rotator cuff, chest and shoulders, hip flexors and calves. 

Stretching and warming up is helpful to reduce most muscle injuries caused by exercises.

Workout (exercise, sets, reps, duration, progression)

DayExercise/ Sets/Reps
MondayChin ups – 3 sets 6 reps Triceps dips – 3 sets 6 repsSquats – 3 sets 10 reps(Can incorporate 3 sets of jumping squats with 10 – 20 reps as a cardiovascular exercise if you like to burn some calories)
TuesdayPush ups – 3 sets, 6 repsPlanks/ hanging leg raises – 3 sets 6 reps
Wednesday Rest
Thursday Same as monday
Friday Same as tuesday
Saturday Rest

Extra facts to consider

When doing chin ups, triceps dips, pushups you may have to test your strengths and weaknesses in the first couple of days. 

As an example If you can easily perform chin ups, 3 sets 6 reps workout without fatigue at the end you have to increase the load. To do that first you can increase the reps in a set up 12 and perform the 3 sets. 

If you feel that it is too easy for you, you can add weight while doing chin ups or perform side to side chin ups. 

If you can’t perform 3 sets 6 reps in chin ups at the start you can use a band to make the exercise easier. 

Likewise you can adjust the load according to your current fitness level.

I added jumping squats as a conditioning exercise if you prefer burning some more calories through your workout. You can incorporate burpees, mountain climbers like exercises also for that.

Keep in mind this is just a starting point. You have to progress your workout with your improvements in strength. 


At the end of workout you can do a cool down session like light jogging or dynamic stretching’s with deep breathings to increase the oxygen supply to muscles.


Rest is very important, similar to the workout. Keep in mind that body is building while you get the rest. Not while working out. So a proper rest with a good sleep is crucial for bodybuilding.


Diet also has an equal importance to workout and rest. Diet can’t be talked about in this kind of small topic. But keep in mind to get a good amount of proteins, water while reducing the carbs.

Stay motivated

Last but not least, staying motivated is very important and it’s as hard a thing as doing a workout. You may not see results in a day or two. So you have to engage for a couple of months to get visible results. 

Hope this guide may answer many of your questions. If you think this guide may be helpful for someone else, you can share this with them. You just have to hit one of the share buttons below.

Have a fun and safe bodybuilding journey ahead!!

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