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The Wonderful World Of Calisthenics: A New Tool For Your Training Goals

By Matt Potak

Calisthenics- “systematic rhythmic bodily exercises performed usually without apparatus”

Typical Bodybuilders, or any kind of Gym Rat have forgotten about the old school ways of developing a great physique. Back in the old days great physiques were made without the use of free weights, or machines. Look back at Boxers in the old days, men in the armed services, Gymnasts, Olympic athletes. The list can go on and on. Calisthenics or Body Weight Training has been around since the very begining of Fitness. Using Calisthenics alone or even with your daily weight training routines are a great way to build a lean, and strong physique. Below is a list of benefits calisthenics have for Size, Fat loss, conditioning and Strength development.

Calisthenics can help Strength Development

“Think about this. How much could you bench press the first time you tried? 200? 300 perhaps? Now how did you achieve that level of strength without ever having benched before? You did it through simplified training such as pushups and pull-ups. “

-Louie Simmons

As Louie Simmons states above Calisthenics build a good foundation of strength for beginers. They will also help Elite Powerlifters. Its not a secret that Powerlifters train very heavy, and intense. However, they also do a lot of high rep GPP work to help recover from training sessions. Many Powerlifters will do many pushup variations, body weight squats, and ab work to help them recover from heavy training sessions. The more blood flow in the muscles the more the recovery, the more strength.

How Calisthenics help with SIZE

Have you always been able to do a pullup? When I first started wrestling in high school I could only do around 3 or 4 pullups. As the season went on I got stronger. As a team we did pullups every day, and by the end of the season I was doing 15-20 pullups non stop. I noticed I had a lot more back thickness ( upper and lower) my rear delts and shoulders were alot wider and dense. My biceps also gained some size. That year we did many different pushups, abs, and squat variations. I saw great results in my chest, abs, and legs. The results were better than 2 years of lifting weights because we never lifted weights during the season.

Conditioning and Fat Loss

I am not a big fan of running. I would rather do circuit style body weight training to burn those extra calories, or get in good physical shape. Have you ever seen one of Ross Enamait’s crazy workout videos of him doing pullups on a tree or non stop burpees with a pushup. Look at the guy he is in tremendious shape and is lean as hell. Look at boxers back in the old days, they ran, but also did many different pushup, pullup, and situp variations. Just try a circuit of this below:

-10 or 15 Burpees

-25 or 50 Bodyweight Squats

-25 Pushups

-10 Pullups

-25 Situps

Do this circuit for 4-5 sets and tell me how you feel.

Bottom line the use of Calisthenics is just another tool you can use in your training toolbox to get stronger, leaner, and in better shape. In my next article I will show you some sample programs for specific goals.

Matt Potak is a wrestling and football coach at the high school level. He is also a personal fitness trainer in the St Augustine, Florida area. He can be reached at


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