Today I am going to share an awesome piece of calisthenics transformation story sent to me by Horea Gentea. I feel immense pleasure in sharing what this hardworking fellow has achieved in one year of dedicated calisthenics training. I cannot tell you how good it felt to know that we have been a source of inspiration to him. So without further delay let’s see what Horea Gentea has attained with one year of dedicated old-school calisthenics training!
Hello guys. I’m Horea!
Some of you may know me from the Facebook group. So you already know that I’m a passionate calisthenics athlete but I trained consistently and with a plan only in the last year. Why and what I’ve learned I’m going to share with you in this blog post about my calisthenics transformation.
First of all, a little information about myself. I always liked and practiced some forms of physical activity. Football (soccer), tennis, athletics and occasionally strength and conditioning training using my own bodyweight. P90x and Insanity workouts, if you are familiar with those programs.
So when I started calisthenics training, the old school way, I wasn’t completely new to the pull-push routines. But I didn’t have the physique that I wanted. And I didn’t have the knowledge on how to build it. Especially how to get six-pack abs with dieting. That completely demotivated me for a long time.
But I was lucky enough to stumble across some of the best people in the fitness industry right at the time that I also met Adorian online. So while I got myself seriously informed about fitness I also followed Adorian and in this process, I was inspired to train in the calisthenics way, which is something that I enjoyed since I was a kid and my father installed a pull-up bar at our house in my hometown.
So in the spring of 2016, I started training the old school calisthenics way. My goal was to get lean like never before and after that to build muscle mass in my upper body.
The first lesson I learned came from a mistake, of course.
Track Your Workouts
Until August I didn’t track my workouts. You cannot remember all the time how many sets and reps you did. And because progressing in those numbers is essential to building muscle in calisthenics, you must track every workout and keep a monthly journal. That is the big step towards your transformation.
Once I tracked my calisthenics workouts I knew how much I had to increase the numbers. And that made the whole difference. I kept it very simple. Every month I increased the reps and I reduced the rest time between sets. That was it. I did regular pull-ups, chin-ups, regular pushups, close pushups, and dips. And slowly but steadily my calisthenics transformation began to happen.
The first set was always with maximum reps and after that, I did sets with 2-3 reps short of failure. In the beginning, my rest between sets was 2 minutes and I reduced it to 30 seconds or less. I trained the whole upper body in every calisthenics workout session. One set of pull-ups followed by one set of push-ups and dips. Rest and repeat.
So don’t make the same mistake as I did. Track your workouts and increase the numbers every month or every week if you can. Also, reduce the rest time. In this way, you keep your muscles under tension which is a trigger for hypertrophy(build muscle).
Hit Your Body Hard
It’s difficult to know how hard to train and how many rest days to take when you don’t have much experience. So what you can do is train as hard as you can as much as you can in difficult conditions so you can see how much your body and nervous system can handle. Calisthenics is not only about bodyweight training but also to know your own body.
I used to get tired after 5 consecutive days of calisthenics training. After that, I did 8 consecutive days, 10, 12 up until 18 consecutive training days. In some months I had only 3 days of rest. I also felt extreme fatigue but the results were there. I gained muscle and I also got to know my limits. With this knowledge, I could plan better the coming months of training. It was important to test my body and to stress it out. This knowledge and routine of bodyweight training are important parts of my calisthenics transformation. So you see, the question of how many days a week should you do a workout can be highly personal.
The Power of Compound Movements
Pull-ups and push-ups are the best exercises for the upper body when it comes to bodyweight training. No doubt about it. I used to believe that you need some kind of isolation or specific exercises for your arms or shoulders. But even if you just do regular pull-ups and push-ups you will build nice arms and shoulders. Calisthenics shouldn’t be complicated but structured. But the most staggering aspect I noticed training with push-pull workout was the development of my abs. I did not train my abs separately this whole year because I wanted to test the idea that pull-ups and push-ups build your abs. And I am the first one to stand up and say that it is completely true. Every upper body muscle got bigger and rounder and that is the effect of compound movements, my friends.
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Enjoy Your Diet
Because the calisthenics way of training burns a lot of calories due to the high volume of sets and reps, it’s important to eat foods you like also as a reward after the grueling workouts. My diet contains something like 35% protein 50% carbs and 15% fats. I eat a minimum of 0.5 grams of protein per pound. It’s important to stay relatively lean all year to be able to train hard because too much fat will have a negative impact on your reps and that’s absolutely depressing. You want your body to show your hard work.
So track your calories more than you track your macros. Choose the whole healthy foods you like and your muscles will grow, no question about it.
It Never Gets Easy
You may think that once you can do 100 pull-ups and 200 dips in one training session everything will become easy and fun. Or at least the challenges won’t be so many. Well, for example, once you hit your proposed numbers you notice that it’s much more difficult to get yourself motivated to workout. Another example is after you build some muscle mass your endurance decreases. So it never gets easy. You always have to get past different obstacles towards achieving your goal but because of that, the success that comes deserves celebrating. So when it comes to your calisthenics transformation, there is still work to be done. Whether you want to burn fat, to build strength, or have a nice body, there are objectives to achieve.
Be Consistent and Patient
In this whole year from April 2016 until now, I never rested more than 10 consecutive days and then was because of the flu I had in January. Apart from that, I rested only for a maximum of 4-5 days per month. There were some weak workouts some beast mode ones but the frequency was there. I showed up and did my best on that day. You cannot build muscle if you train 1 week per month. And you certainly cannot build muscle if you don’t push yourself. So even if you don’t have the energy to match your previous numbers just show up and do your best. If you stimulate your muscles consistently the results will come.
I never would have thought that I could train in the cold winter period but this year I did it and it paid off. Even if I was the only crazy guy in the freezing snow I did my best and I trained. Now I see the results. I could have decided to take a month and a half off but that isn’t a realistic option if you want to maximize your muscle growth.
Consistency, frequency, intensity. We all have an hour a day to train. No matter where we are or how busy we are. But if you decide to skip a week of training or a whole month you know that was an opportunity missed to build your dream physique and time is the most precious thing because you cannot get it back.
I want to thank Adorian for giving me this opportunity to share with you the experience of my first year in calisthenics training and if you liked this article maybe I will repeat the experiment.
All the best, Horea Gentea!
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