Calisthenics and Bodybuilding?

LvlUpStr

Level 3 Valued Member
Hello everyone, I am new to the forum. I have spent the last few days tweaking my routine which is combination of Calisthenics and Bodybuilding exercises at 8-12 reps with progressive sets.

Does anyone else train calisthenics with a hypertrophy bodybuilding routine? If so, what could I change for my workout routine and how do you train?
 
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Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
Welcome to the forum @NX3DT ! Your plan has a lot of different exercises in it -- which is totally fine but not that congruent with SF.

Just one example: The hypertrophy routine from Power to the People (Russian Bear) consists of only 2 exercises (deadlift + sidepress) or even only 1 exercises (deadlift). With lots of sets at a submaximal weight for as many sets as are possible with good form at that weight (probably 10-20).

This is a SF approach to bodybuilding (with weights, though): If It Flies Right, It Looks Right: My Journey to a Bodybuilding Competition | StrongFirst

You might enjoy reading C-Mass Calisthenics by Paul Wade and Beyond Bodybuilding by Pavel to get some ideas.
 

Kyle Kowalczuk

Level 4 Valued Member
Agree with the Russian Bear program. Check out neuro sets if you are looking to build muscle with jess exercises.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

The Russian bear protocol can also be done with calisthenics, at least to a certain extent. Basically, multiple sets of pistols and HSPU can get the job done. OAP or OAOL PU are not advised because they'd be taxing for the waist.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello,

The Russian bear protocol can also be done with calisthenics, at least to a certain extent. Basically, multiple sets of pistols and HSPU can get the job done. OAP or OAOL PU are not advised because they'd be taxing for the waist.

Kind regards,

Pet'
I have saved this quote from Pavel Tsatsouline regarding the Russian Bear for calisthenics:

Pavel said:
single limb exercises do not provide the same level of systemic stress (endocrine, metabolic) as global exercises like DLs or BPs. Still, they build muscle when done with a heavy weight for many low rep sets and with short rest periods. Consider ~10-20x5 (per leg) of pistols, pullups (variation that has 10RM difficulty for you), and handstand pushups or incline pushups. I would not use the one-arm pushup because such a high volume is likely to fry your waist too much.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
My experience using calisthenics with other loaded exercises for hypertrophy is that you need to manage the TUT and rep ranges, or if that is impractical you need to manage the intensity. The methods I used are not SF.

Cluster sets and Rest/Pause are good tools. Limit the rest periods and keep the reps near to tech failure. A three or four repeat cluster with higher rep exercises can provide a good hypertrophic kick. Eg for pushups with an AMRAP of 35, three sets of 28 done with only 20 seconds between would be a single cluster set. Likewise you could use Rest/Pause by simply going to tech failure, wait 10 seconds, go again, wait 10 seconds, go a third time, decreasing reps to whatever is possible with each repeat.

A lot depends on how well you are able to manipulate the resistance. I have also used OAPU and other exercises in a similar manner with DropSet methods - say my AMRAP is 8, at the 8th rep drop down to the outside knee and keep going.

These are High Intensity methods that are intended to increase the number and relative TUT of high intensity reps, so limiting the volume a bit is probably in order, though you could still do a weekly split as outlined.

The only thing I can say about the overall construction is you're only hitting each upper body split once a week and that might not be enough even though there is a lot of sets on any given day. You might break it down to concentrate on more reps/ sets with fewer movements on any given day.

Maybe a basic:
Day 1 - chest/bi - cast iron variations
Day2 - Back/tri - bodyweight variations
Day3 - Legs/shoulders - all variations/cast iron
Day4 - chest/bi - bodyweight variations
Day5- Back/tri - cast iron variations
Day6 - Legs/shoulders - all variations/bodyweight
Day7 - rest/LSD
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@NX3DT
On YouTube, there is an interesting channel called "Red Delta Project". Here you can find plenty of information regarding muscle building using bodyweight and programming.

Most of the time, you find very similar contents to what @North Coast Miller said.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Dasho

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello,

The Russian bear protocol can also be done with calisthenics, at least to a certain extent. Basically, multiple sets of pistols and HSPU can get the job done. OAP or OAOL PU are not advised because they'd be taxing for the waist.

Kind regards,

Pet'
My post may seem incoherent, but I'll try. When I did some Russian Bear work with barbells, I would start with 5 reps of my 7 rep max, and then follow the rest of the protocol based off of that weight. I tried to work out the math as to what that would equate to for bodyweight work, and came up with something close to this:

Let's take a theoretical 100 rep max in a move like pushups.
Seeing as your 7RM when doing a barbell lift is roughly (according to most online calculators I've used) 80% of the weight your 1 RM used, I would then multiply by .80 and have, well, 80.
From there, I multiplied it by 5/7 (to mimic the 5 reps out of 7 RM effort on the first set), and made that how many I would do in my first set. In this case, that would be 57.

So, the protocol for a 100 rep max would be as follows with this formula:
1 set of 57; wait 5 minutes
1 set of 51 (90% of original set); wait 5 minutes
As many sets of 45 (80% of original set) as possible, with 30-90 seconds of rest between sets.

I have no idea if this is effective, but if you want to try and save some extra math I found that the first set would always turn out to be 56-57% of your maximum reps. I would also note that this doesn't scale well at lower rep ranges, so I wouldn't do it with a move like pistols or OAP.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Dasho
Did you try using weighted push ups or some kind of resistance (resistance band, feet elevated, etc...) to make them harder ? That way, maybe it can be easier to target a "true" 7RM for instance.

Of course, this is just an idea, because I did not try it myself ;)

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Dasho

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello,

@Dasho
Did you try using weighted push ups or some kind of resistance (resistance band, feet elevated, etc...) to make them harder ? That way, maybe it can be easier to target a "true" 7RM for instance.

Of course, this is just an idea, because I did not try it myself ;)

Kind regards,

Pet'
I was playing with it when I was prepping for the annual Air Force fitness test, where high rep counts in pushups and situps are necessary, so I stuck with my own weight. I think that would be an awesome idea to try, though!
 

LvlUpStr

Level 3 Valued Member
Thank you for the excellent response and to everyone else that has responded to the thread.

I have now switched to a push/pull/legs routine and I have been training six times a week instead of three.
 
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WeightedPullups

Level 1 Valued Member
When focusing on hypertrophy bodyweight was completely removed and did weights only. My average workout was 2hrs and I hated it and the results; I had to walk through door ways side ways.

When I switched to calisthenics I have achieved and sustained some hypertrophy but it is not a focus. So to conclude if you want bodybuilding/hypertrophy commit to weights and a bodybuilding program. If you are like me, well you know what I said about that and the beauty about calisthenics is you can use HIIT and shorten your workouts down to 30-minutes.
 

LvlUpStr

Level 3 Valued Member
When focusing on hypertrophy bodyweight was completely removed and did weights only. My average workout was 2hrs and I hated it and the results; I had to walk through door ways side ways.

When I switched to calisthenics I have achieved and sustained some hypertrophy but it is not a focus. So to conclude if you want bodybuilding/hypertrophy commit to weights and a bodybuilding program. If you are like me, well you know what I said about that and the beauty about calisthenics is you can use HIIT and shorten your workouts down to 30-minutes.
Thank you, I am finding that calisthenics is better for training functional strength and would like to continue training calisthenics while building muscle.

Have you sustained your muscle gains from the calisthenics? Have you tried calisthenics at the 12-8 repetition range? I notice some calisthenics are focused on the technical aspects of the exercises instead of the workout being designed to target hypertrophy.
 

WeightedPullups

Level 1 Valued Member
Thank you, I am finding that calisthenics is better for training functional strength and would like to continue training calisthenics while building muscle.

Have you sustained your muscle gains from the calisthenics? Have you tried calisthenics at the 12-8 repetition range? I notice some calisthenics are focused on the technical aspects of the exercises instead of the workout being designed to target hypertrophy.
Have you sustained your muscle gains from the calisthenics? Can't really answer that for the exercises are night and day.

Have you tried calisthenics at the 12-8 repetition range? Yes and I no longer do it. Didn't find it a good way to go about it; I learned from trial and error less is more as long as you make the exercise difficult where 3x3 or 3x5 is challenging. Example: weighted pull-ups.

Now I have tested myself when I hit 45lbs attached to my persons and pulled 10 reps (un-weighted) with complete ease and plenty of gas for more. But in general, the only time I go past 5 reps is when in beast-mode BUT never on really challenging exercises such as weighted pull-ups.

I notice some calisthenics are focused on the technical aspects of the exercises instead of the workout being designed to target hypertrophy
Don't take this the wrong way but you really need to figure out what you want: hypertrophy or just get strong. It's not one of the same. For example lets look at the two extremes:
1. Bodybuilding. Now that is hypertrophy
2. Powerlifters, so not hypertrophy yet they are stronger than bodybuilders but have s*** cardio and can't do a lot calisthenics.

The point is, it's all relative to ones focus. If you are so stuck on hypertrophy then do weights and follow a bodybuilding program. If you want to work on skills then do calisthenics. If you want to be a strong motherFR then eat a lot and pickup heavy stuff. But you need to make up your mind.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

Maybe Steven Low's programming can be worth reading as it calls for a wide range of repetition to eventually build both strength and volume.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
My experience using calisthenics with other loaded exercises for hypertrophy is that you need to manage the TUT and rep ranges, or if that is impractical you need to manage the intensity. The methods I used are not SF.
I've found the same.

Most of my chest pressing is at a deficit, either using ring pushups or KB pushups to get my chest below my hands, and then doing the reps very slowly, with very high tension.

It's sufficiently hard that 5-8 reps is just right for strength / hypertrophy.
 

LvlUpStr

Level 3 Valued Member
Have you sustained your muscle gains from the calisthenics? Can't really answer that for the exercises are night and day.

Have you tried calisthenics at the 12-8 repetition range? Yes and I no longer do it. Didn't find it a good way to go about it; I learned from trial and error less is more as long as you make the exercise difficult where 3x3 or 3x5 is challenging. Example: weighted pull-ups.

Now I have tested myself when I hit 45lbs attached to my persons and pulled 10 reps (un-weighted) with complete ease and plenty of gas for more. But in general, the only time I go past 5 reps is when in beast-mode BUT never on really challenging exercises such as weighted pull-ups.


Don't take this the wrong way but you really need to figure out what you want: hypertrophy or just get strong. It's not one of the same. For example lets look at the two extremes:
1. Bodybuilding. Now that is hypertrophy
2. Powerlifters, so not hypertrophy yet they are stronger than bodybuilders but have s*** cardio and can't do a lot calisthenics.

The point is, it's all relative to ones focus. If you are so stuck on hypertrophy then do weights and follow a bodybuilding program. If you want to work on skills then do calisthenics. If you want to be a strong motherFR then eat a lot and pickup heavy stuff. But you need to make up your mind.
Thank you for the response, mate. I have ordered a chain belt for the weighted pull-ups and chin-ups, I am using a dumbbell and holding the weight with my feet as I perform the exercises for now.

I have considered what you have said and decided that I will focus on the calisthenics, I will do the 12, 10, 8 repetition range for explosive exercises and the 8, 5, 3 repetitions for the exercise where I can use the chain belt.
 
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WeightedPullups

Level 1 Valued Member
Too much in a single day. Seems like you are trying to get so many variations of the same exercise in one session and IMHO that is a bad way to go about it. This I know for I tried it myself.

Keep it simple and effective. Pick/make exercises that are challenging. The reps and sets are up to you but I recommend no more than 5 sets of whatever amount of reps you choose to do.

A template I been following for years is this:
Pulling exercise
Pushing exercise
Core Exercise
Pulling Exercise
Pushing Exercise
Legs

and in that order.
 
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