Bodyweight Bodybuilding: what is it and how to do it?

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenics
bodyweight bodybuilding

If you’re looking for a new way to build muscle, bodyweight bodybuilding might be just what you need. This type of training is similar to classic bodybuilding, but it relies heavily on compound bodyweight exercises. While some people do use elastic rubber bands or weight vests to increase the difficulty of exercises like pushups or pull-ups, most of the focus is on pure bodyweight movements. These include exercises like pull-ups, dips on parallel bars or rings, basic pushup variations, various squats, and plyometrics. You’ll also do plenty of sprints and full-body circuits to really get your heart rate up and burn fat. While some people do get bored with pure bodyweight training, it’s definitely effective for building muscle and getting shredded.

If you’re looking to build muscle and improve your strength and endurance, bodyweight training is a great option. Instead of traditional bench press, try doing pushups or diamond pushups, and make the exercise harder by having a training partner press on your shoulders or adding resistance bands. You can also increase the time under tension by going fully bodyweight. For squats, try one-leg squats or pistol squats instead of weighted squats. The beauty of bodyweight training is that you can do it anywhere, without any equipment. While it may be harder to isolate muscles, working them functionally engages more fibers and provides better joint stabilization. Plus, you’ll develop strength in adjoining muscles, leading to better form and range of motion. Give it a try and see the results for yourself!

What exercises do I need in bodyweight bodybuilding?

I have a fantastic list of the most popular bodyweight exercises for bodybuilding that I think you’ll find extremely helpful. Check out the video I’ve included below. These exercises will form a solid foundation, eliminating the need for you to come up with various variations. All you need from this point on is consistent training and patience. Remember, fueling your body with proper and sustainable nutrition is also essential to support your workouts. I wish you the best of luck in achieving your fitness goals! You can also check out my calisthenics program.

Is bodyweight training better than weights?

Whether you prefer bodyweight training or conventional lifting, it’s important to find a routine that suits you. For some people, bodyweight exercises are a great option because they don’t have access to weights or a gym, live in an isolated place, or find calisthenics to be safer for their joints. Others may prefer lifting heavy weights at the gym. Ultimately, the choice is yours and both types of resistance training can be effective. Check out the video below for a demonstration of these exercises and remember to fuel your body with nutritious food to support your workouts. Best of luck in reaching your fitness goals!

If you put in the effort, you can definitely achieve impressive results with bodyweight bodybuilding. While it’s hard to predict exactly how your muscles will develop, it’s definitely possible to see progress over time. Different exercises will have different impacts on your body, but as long as you stick to the basics of calisthenics training, you can definitely build a great physique. If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, I highly recommend checking out the article below:

Can you really build muscle with calisthenics?

How to Start Bodyweight Bodybuilding?

Don’t worry too much about how complicated or complex your workouts need to be. Starting simple and building gradually is the way to go. As you gain experience, you’ll learn what changes you need to make. Begin with the exercises I showed you and create a basic workout structure based on sets, reps, or circuits. Whether you choose classic sets and reps or circuits and supersets, the important thing is to push yourself to near-failure each time you train.

For example, you could try doing 7 chinups followed by 12 dips followed by 15 diamond pushups to train your arms. One of the great things about calisthenics is that even if you’re targeting a specific muscle group, you’ll still be working other muscles effectively. For instance, pull-ups work your back muscles regardless of your grip, while a chinup with a supinated grip will focus more on your biceps and forearms. If you’re looking to train your lats, try doing pronated wide pull-ups. And if you want to work your chest, various dips (with a wider distance between the bars) and pushups with a larger width between the hands can be effective. You may even want to incorporate some flies with rings or rubber bands into your routine. I’ve included a video for reference, but don’t worry if it’s a bit long. Just take it one step at a time and you’ll get there!

If you want to develop strong leg muscles and overall strength, try doing sprints, hill sprints, various jumps, stair running, walking lunges, high-rep squats, and sometimes one-legged squats. For core training, use the floor and make sure to add lower-back exercises as much as you do ab-focused exercises. You can do leg raises on the pull-up bar or on the ground, crunches, torso twists, bridges, various variations, exercises like planks and where you combine isometric contractions along with movements. Not all exercises need to be difficult, so try exercises that focus more on tonic fibers like Planks, requiring high-rep or time. Pull-ups and dips will train the thick fibers, and it’s all about training those fibers near to fatigue, wherever the area of the body. Training 4 times a week for 1 hour, warm-up included, should be enough, and you can add pull-up routines with pushups and dips, squats, and sprints. Another workout totally dedicated to core training and mobility is also a great idea. To add variety, try jump rope, running a longer distance, riding a bike, swimming, or doing plenty of Burpees and Jumping Jacks along with other plyometrics and ab exercises. Remember that every exercise, even if easy, can develop the muscle fibers utilized in that movement, so try exercises that are functional and can be transferred to real-life applications. Calisthenics, weight lifting, and all these simple exercises are the foundation of every sport and fitness.

Bodyweight Bodybuilding Workout Routine

Starting bodyweight bodybuilding can be overwhelming, but it’s crucial to try out the essential exercises. Even if you don’t have a structured plan, it’s important to execute each exercise correctly and observe how your muscles react. From there, you can start planning and composing your weekly routine. Personally, I enjoy workouts that have variety, but I also find benefits in single-exercise training. Just make sure to warm up properly and fit your workout into your available time. Don’t overthink it – select a few exercises and create a routine based on what’s been shared. Finally, aim to train frequently, ideally between 3 to 5 workouts a week for consistent muscle development in strength, endurance, and definition.

Arms Workout
[5-10 Chinups -> 10-20 Diamond Pushups] x 4 cycles
[5-10 Close Chinups -> 8-20 Dips] x 4 cycles
[5-10 Commando Pull-Ups -> 8-15 Backward Pushups] x 4 cycles
[10 Body Rows -> 5-7 Skull Crushers] x 4 cycles
Back Workout
5-10 Wide Pull-Ups x 5 sets
7-12 Horizontal Pull-Ups on Rings x 5 sets
Superman Isometric Hold followed by arms retraction: Max Reps and Time x 4 sets
5-10 Back Bridges Pushups (or easier variations) x 4 sets
2-min. Plank x 3 sets
Leg Workout
10 Sprints of 100 meters/yards (flat or uphill)
12 Bulgarian Splits x 4 sets
10 One-Leg Side Squat x 4 sets
Crouch Walk: 100 steps
[5 Squats -> 5 Jump Squats -> 5 Squats -> 5 Jump Squats] x 4 cycles
Calf Raises, 4 sets
Core Workout
1-2 Min. Hollow Holds x 3 sets
V raises on a Dip Station or Pull-Up Bar: 4 sets x max. reps.
Back Bridges or progressions and alternatives: 5 sets
Floor Leg Raises: 4 sets x 20 reps
Plank: 4 sets of 2 minutes
Upper-Body Workout
5-10 Pull-Ups x 4 sets
5-10 Chinups x 4 sets
7-12 Horizontal Pull-Ups x 4 sets
8-20 Dips x 4 sets
Max. Reps. Clapping Pushups x 5 sets
8-20 Decline Pushups x 4 sets
[6-20 Diamond Pushups -> Max Reps Incline Pushups] x 3 cycles
Forearm Workout
2-5 Towel Pull-Ups x 6 sets
3-5 Fingertip Pushups x 6 sets
Max. Reps. Close Chinups x 3 sets
Hangs of a Pull-Up bar: Max. Time x 5 sets
Wrists stretching
Maximal Pulling Strength Workout
Assisted One-Arm Pull-Ups: 3-5 reps x 5 sets
Archer Pull-Ups: 5 sets x 3-5 reps
(Weighted/Bodyweight) Pull-Ups: 4 sets x Max. Reps.
One Single Exercise Workout
5-12 Wide Pull-Ups x 20 sets
Rest 60-90 seconds between the sets
Do the same with other exercises for other body parts

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