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Calisthenics – What It Is And What Is It Good For

Welcome fitness enthusiast. So, you want to learn more about calisthenics?

You came to the right place. This post will help you learn what the calisthenics is.

You will also learn what is calisthenics good for. But we will also examine where it falls short and why some other type of workout will be a better choice.

So, let’s jump right into it. Shall we?

What Is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics: Back Lever
Image by master1305 on Freepik

The calisthenics is a type of strength training in which you use your own body weight as the resistance. You use your body as the weight you move or hold using some kind of a lever.

It’s basically resisting the pull of gravity from various angles using minimal equipment. Most basic exercises we all know about like pull-ups, push-ups, and squats are all calisthenics exercises.

Calisthenics uses progressions to help you move from easier skills to harder ones. This ensures progressive overload that is needed for building strength and muscle mass.

The added benefit of progressions is that they give you an impression of being in some kind of game. The game where you have some impressive skills as the milestones on your fitness journey. 

They help you keep motivated and work on slowly improving your abilities. As you progress and reach some milestones it will give you a sense of accomplishment. Like mastering a level in a computer game.

So, you are not just concentrating on putting another pound at the end of the bar. You are concentrating on getting those cool moves mastered. And yes – they will get you bragging rights and people will look with envy when they see what you are capable of doing.

What Is Calisthenics Good For?

Calisthenics: Handstand

The important thing to remember is that calisthenics is great for building strength. It can also help you build muscle mass. So, if you are after building strength and muscle mass, calisthenics is great.

Because you use your body to move in various directions and at various angles, it will also help you improve your flexibility and mobility.

But, calisthenics is not specifically designed to work on flexibility. Its main purpose is building strength.

Calisthenics will also help you improve your balance. Just think about the handstand – doing a freestanding handstand just for a few seconds is an impressive skill by itself.

Because of the built-in gamification, calisthenics is great for workout motivation. It’s an important part of the equation. When you don’t feel like working out, there must be something more to it that will help you do it anyway.

To sum it up, calisthenics is great for building strength, muscle mass, flexibility, mobility, and balance. It will also keep you motivated.

What Is Calisthenics Not Good For?

Building Muscle

Let’s first say, I absolutely love calisthenics. It’s the main form of workout I use every week. Even though calisthenics is great and I love it, it’s not the best choice for every possible purpose.

The other thing worth noting is that any kind of workout is better than no workout at all. But, not all forms of training are the best for everything.

If you look to lose fat as fast as possible, the best workout choice will be high-intensity interval training or HIIT. Calisthenics can be turned into HIIT if you do a high number of reps in short bursts and use short rests between sets. But it’s not what it’s best for.

If you are looking to build muscle mass, you can get better results in a shorter time frame using weight training.

When you want to improve your flexibility the best approach is to work purposefully on flexibility in a separate training session. There are also other disciplines like yoga that can help you reach your mobility goals easier and faster than calisthenics.

If you want to improve your dexterity and speed there are also better choices out there than calisthenics, like martial arts and sprinting for example.

* Working on your slalom skiing skills is great for improving your speed and dexterity.

Calisthenics Alternatives

Now you know what is calisthenics best for, and what are its shortcomings. Now, what are the alternatives to calisthenics?

Here are the few worth noting and their main strengths:

  • Weight training – building muscle mass
  • Yoga – flexibility, and balance
  • HIIT – weight loss
  • Martial arts – dexterity and speed

My Experience With Calisthenics

I’ve been working out and eating healthy for more than 5 years. As you might have noticed, I really enjoy doing calisthenics. Heck, this entire site is dedicated to calisthenics.

My Sports Background

Since I was a young boy, I really enjoyed sports. My first love was soccer. Later on, I started liking skiing more and more. I even become a competitor and skiing instructor.

But I also tried swimming, athletics, basketball, and handball. If it was any kind of sport with the ball I tried it. Sports was my idea of having fun when I was a kid.

I also went to the gym on an on-and-off basis. It never lasted more than six months in a row. After six months I got bored and adding another plate at the end of the bar just didn’t motivate me enough to persist.

What Did Calisthenics Do For Me?

Calisthenics Results

Calisthenics was a different story. Because of its built-in gamification, even after five years, I’m still motivated. There is always another skill worth pursuing. There is always another angle, another approach jet waiting for me to try. That was the main thing that kept me going and sticking to my training routines.

At first, I used training programs. I followed ready-made workouts created by someone else. After reading a great book 7X Your Strength Gains, I started creating my own custom workouts.

Long story short, I was able to lose 20 lbs of fat in three months. After this initial quick win, I was hooked. I set myself a new goal.

Now I wanted to learn those cool calisthenics skills like handstands and muscle-ups. I also wanted to build strength and muscle mass. Something I never thought possible for me.

I was a skinny, weak guy as long as I can remember. Even though I was reaching my fifties I was able to build 9 lbs of lean muscle mass in two years after I started working out using nothing but calisthenics.

After adopting healthy eating habits and working out regularly, my blood work improved.

So, calisthenics keeps me motivated and helps me persist. I keep on showing up for my workout sessions even when I don’t particularly feel like it. It also helped me lose 20 lbs in three months and gain 9 lbs of lean muscle mass in two years.

It works for me. Will it work for you? You will not know if you don’t try it.


Calisthenics is a great training regime. It will help you build strength, muscle mass and improve your mobility and balance.

It helped me achieve my fitness goals and improve my health. It also keeps me showing up to my workouts even when I don’t feel like training.

Calisthenics is a great form of working out with built-in motivation. But it’s not be all and end-all. Other kinds of training might be a better choice for reaching different goals.

Now, go and try it. You may really like what you just discovered.

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