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Bodyweight Hypertrophy with calisthenics protocol

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John Kowalski

Level 2 Valued Member
How could I use the Strongfirst's principles for increasing muscle mass with bodyweight exercises only? Does it make sense to use the rules of the PTTP Russian Bear protocol: sets of 5-10 push ups with shorter - 1 min~ breaks for a higher volume? Or should I turn towards something like Prof. Selouyanov's protocol with 30-60 sec sets to failure? Strength and neurological adaptations are not a priority atm.
 

Marc

Level 6 Valued Member
How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part II

Also check out part 1&3!

Also the classic approach: For hypertrophy aim for more reps e.g. more time under tension which falls between 6-15reps. Shorter rest 1-2 mins.
You could also apply the PTTP approach which is basically more volume, medium load, shorter rest.
 

MichaelJ

Level 1 Valued Member
How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part II

Also check out part 1&3!

Also the classic approach: For hypertrophy aim for more reps e.g. more time under tension which falls between 6-15reps. Shorter rest 1-2 mins.
You could also apply the PTTP approach which is basically more volume, medium load, shorter rest.
I'm familiar with the series, but I always wondered, if the hypertrophy programs always involve compressed rests, then why this particular protocol calls for longer rest periods? Isn't that conflicting?
The article about long rests “Long Rests”: A Revolution in Interval Training mentions the downsides of glytoclytic training, but the russian bear is considered to be glycolytic. Would it be better to do 6-15 reps with 1 min rests or 5-10 min? Is that accumulating of fatigue neccessary? I know that probably nobody who trains recreationally would want to spend so much time for workouts, but I'm asking hypothetically.

Btw, there's a link in this thread: Incorporating combat sport conditioning into strength program for mma fighters and they do a similar (but slightly different) routine: 30s work:30s rest x3 (one set) and then 5-10 min rest, is that version a prototype of the protcol mentioned in the SF articles? It could be more time efficient. I'm not fluent in russian so I don't know if they mentioned splitting the workouts for lower and upper body.
Another question regarding the original Slow fiber article: when doing the upper body day, is it necessary to take a long rest between every exercise, for example: when doing push ups and rows, which hit the opposite muscle groups, after completing a set of push ups, is it necessary to rest for 10 minutes, or can I proceed to the rows immediately after and then rest for 10 mins after those 2 exercises?
 
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Marc

Level 6 Valued Member
The article calls for very long rest periods. However it is not too long. Even in the last week you have to rest 8×5mins which is 40 total mins. But you can do different exercises during the restperiod. It calls for those lengthy rest to make sure your muscles are fresh and cleared of metabolic waste products. However there are several ways to hypertrophy: the classic 8-12 gives you enough time under tension and rest periods of ~2mins will induce metabolic stress which is also an important factor for hypertrophy. Time under tension is cumulative. That means 3x10 and 10×3 both equal 30 total reps. You would get a greater hypertrophy stimulus from 10x3 because the load is much higher and thus induces greater contractions. However 10x3 takes about one hour and 3x10 maybe 10 mins. I would say mix these different approaches to get the best from each world
 

Marc

Level 6 Valued Member
Well probably yes, if they do not concur. Push ups and overhead presses would be a bad idea. Push ups and pullups would be a good idea
 

the hansenator

Level 6 Valued Member
Years ago there was a similar discussion on the old DD forum and Pavel T offered his advice. I saved it for future reference, I hope it's ok to paste it here

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.
 

Marc

Level 6 Valued Member
After reading Harry Westgate's post I checked out Tom Furman's site and got myself a copy of the ebook. Seems to be some solid no BS stuff. It is only 10 bucks. So if you are interested in a solid routine you should get yourself a copy
 

StuKE

Level 1 Valued Member
I really like the idea of calisthenics, theoretically it should be possible to build mass but I think genuine examples are quite rare on the internet. I think this could be due to the fact that most seem to focus on strength progressions and more advanced moves than hypertrophy. As we know, particularly where calisthenics are concerned, strength and size are not necessarily that closely related. Take Al Kavadlo, or Jasper Benincasa for example.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 6 Valued Member
Building mass or achieving hypertrophy is subjectively, because we all have different expectations associated with the term.

If you weigh 200lbs @ 20% bodyfat and a routine gets you to 195lbs @ 12% bodyfat than to me that was a hypertrophy routine. Others would say it's a fat loss routine.
For me a hypertrophy routine is every routine that has the potential to increase my lean tissue, even if my overall weight stays the same or gets lower.
A mass routine to me is something with the potential to increase my overall bodyweight in the form of lean tissue gain or lean tissue + fat gain. (-> a routine that requires high amounts of food otherwise you're not able to complete it properly, think of Starting Strength for example)
Using my personal definitions it's not that hard to achieve hypertrophy using calisthencis, mass on the other hand is hard to build with bodyweight only.

Achieving hypertrophy with calisthenics has a lot to do with your starting point and body "measurments".
Compare a 5'8, 155lbs guy to another one who's 6'3, 220lbs. The 6'3 has to move a lot more weight through bigger ROMs than the 5'8 guy. The potential for hypertrophy is a lot bigger for him using calisthenics. On the downside he will have a hard time reaching the same rep numbers as the smaller guy.
Therefore one and the same routine can have a much different outcome for different people.

@John Kowalski without knowing some basics like weight, max pushups, max pullups, max bodyweight squats and without knowing how you define hypertrophy and mass, it's hard to give you guidelines for a hypertrophy routine based on calisthenics.
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
How could I use the Strongfirst's principles for increasing muscle mass with bodyweight exercises only? Does it make sense to use the rules of the PTTP Russian Bear protocol: sets of 5-10 push ups with shorter - 1 min~ breaks for a higher volume? Or should I turn towards something like Prof. Selouyanov's protocol with 30-60 sec sets to failure? Strength and neurological adaptations are not a priority atm.


The first thing would be to eat more, a lot more.

Shorter breaks would be next. If strength and neuro adaptation are not at the top of the list, you will want to keep rest periods short, or use longer rest periods following rest/pause or drop sets. 30-60 second sets to technical failure sound right, anything much more and some strategies should be adopted to get it into that range.

Rep range will normally be increased somewhat to hit the 60 second time under load. Realistically many training protocols can be adapted for hypertrophy by reducing rest periods and increasing reps a bit if necessary...and eating more. A full range of motion, multiple sets, higher rep count, reps to technical failure.

It is easy to underestimate the amount of food needed. A bunch of your additional calories will initially go to simply make you capable of training harder. You then need to add another dollop on top of that. And then for every few pounds you add you have to increase your baseline calories (this is the part I always have trouble with) to keep the weight on.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member

Kettlebelephant

Level 6 Valued Member
I could do 15 push ups, 5 pull ups and 40 bw squats.
You're still in the hypertrophy range for pushups and pullups, which is good considering your goal. For squats though you'd need to find a harder variation. Cranking out several sets of 30 rep bodyweight squats will probably make you leaner considering the high reps and the large amount of muscles involved in squatting.

@North Coast Miller gave a lot of options how to do it already and you can use those strategies for your upper body work. Lower body/legs is the problem...
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I'm certainly no expert in this stuff, but I really don't see why callisthenics would cause these kind of problems. So, you have to be tough about it and try harder stuff all the time if you want to progress. With pullups you can do those "archer" variations where you pull yourself up over one hand and then go down and pull up over top of the other hand. The same goes for squats. The one legged "hover squat" is pretty challenging. I still can't do it. The pistol is king of squats and that's no joke but there are lots of progressions to get there. I think the overall rule is that you can lift twice your bodyweight with just your bodyweight when you think of it as loading all your bodyweight onto just one limb. Being twice as strong as your bodyweight is perhaps paltry in professional weight lifting circles, but it is mighty in regular civilian and I think even athletic circles.

The only thing I have against overvaluing bodyweight training is something Pavel Macek told me which is very wise, which is, "The muscle is not the movement" and this is why lifting real weights is so important, since picking up a weight is different from picking yourself up. Very different dynamic. Picking up a real weight is quite unbalanced whereas picking yourself up is very balanced.

I've become most impressed with feet elevated pushups. I can do two sets of 15 of these and that's about it! This is even though I can do 5 sets of 5 one arm pushups!!! I thought I was "too good" for mere feet elevated pushups, but I was wrong. I'm almost thinking that the feet elevated normal pushups are better exercise.

Eating more will make you heavier which loads more weight onto yourself for exercise. Eating more makes you stronger. But, is this the point of exercising?
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Feet elevated is tough! ^

You're still in the hypertrophy range for pushups and pullups, which is good considering your goal. For squats though you'd need to find a harder variation. Cranking out several sets of 30 rep bodyweight squats will probably make you leaner considering the high reps and the large amount of muscles involved in squatting.

@North Coast Miller gave a lot of options how to do it already and you can use those strategies for your upper body work. Lower body/legs is the problem...

You'll need to do some skater squats or pistols. You might even try doing full body squats with a jump to finish and see how that changes your rep range.

The biggest issues I see for this in a general sense:

- managing the rep range and being able to vary it somewhat with tougher or easier/partially supported versions of the same exercise (assisted ups and concentrate effort on eccentrics are another strategy if you cannot hit the rep range) so you can apply progressive resistance other than raw rep count.

- getting adequate food and rest.

Other than that it is just like any other hypertrophic endeavor. The science for strength, speed, endurance is constantly being pushed. The "why" is still evolving in some respects, but hypertrophic training is pretty well understood in terms of what generally works.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm certainly no expert in this stuff, but I really don't see why callisthenics would cause these kind of problems. So, you have to be tough about it and try harder stuff all the time if you want to progress. With pullups you can do those "archer" variations where you pull yourself up over one hand and then go down and pull up over top of the other hand. The same goes for squats. The one legged "hover squat" is pretty challenging. I still can't do it. The pistol is king of squats and that's no joke but there are lots of progressions to get there. I think the overall rule is that you can lift twice your bodyweight with just your bodyweight when you think of it as loading all your bodyweight onto just one limb. Being twice as strong as your bodyweight is perhaps paltry in professional weight lifting circles, but it is mighty in regular civilian and I think even athletic circles.
A lot of times the problem with the advanced progressions is that they demand more than pure muscular effort or too much effort from little muscles.
Take the pistol for example.
For hypertrophy you need certain volumes and rest periods. If you try to build mass with a squat movement you want to hit and exhaust the major muscles involved. In this case quads, glutes and to some extend hamstrings. In a pistol though it's not uncommon that a smaller stabilising muscle group or something like balance/equilibrium is the limiting factor.
You have to stop a set, because your stabilisers are fried, but your big muscles groups (quads, glutes) didn't get enough stimulus to illicit growth.
Or take the OAPushup/OAOLPushup. Most likely your core and stabilisers give out before your pressing muscles (shoulder, tris, pecs). This is good for strength and tension, but if your goal is hypertrophy of the pecs it's a mediocre movement at best.
Also a lot of the advanced proressions in calisthenics are more CNS-intensive (again take the OAP as example) and high rep, low rest, high volume coupled with CNS-intensive is bad news.
 
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