Weighted Calisthenics..... Under-rated?

Discussion in 'Bodyweight' started by pullupfighter, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    I'm just now getting back into training after a few years off after I platued on body weight exercises. I got to the point to where I was doing a thousand push ups a day, hundreds of dips, and hundreds of air squats. After I hit the wall on gains, I gave up working out for a few years.

    Today, I'm back with a new plan. I wanted the enjoyment of body weight exercises or big compound moves, but this time I want to add progression and weighted moves to keep me striving for more gains. However, after re-freshing my memory by browsing several forums, I've came to one conclusion. Over on bodybuilding forums, and a few other forums, the body building or weight lifting guys often talk about weighted calisthenics in a manner that presents it "less efficient" than just lifting weights. Why is there so much hate towards weighted calisthenics vs traditional weight lifting?

    The way I see it is, your incorporating more muscles in the big compound exercises like (Pull Ups, Dips, Squats, and Push Ups. Which in turn, with consistent training, would build a more "complete and filled"
    body build or frame than simple isolation movements? Despite what I've read on some of the other forums,
    I (DO NOT) want to be the massive body builder over on the bench, benching 500 lbs, then not be able to lift myself up on a pull up bar. It just doesn't make sense to me. I want to build Strength first, then mass second.

    So about three months ago, I started my own basic weighted calisthenics program, despite what I read on the bodybuilding forums. Despite everyone telling me free weights were more superior? My basic routine is mostly all compound movements, with a FEW isolation movements thrown in.

    I do Push/Pull/Leg split, 2x a week.

    Weighted Pull Ups. (Started at Body Weight , Currently up to 40 lbs)
    Weighted Chin Ups (Started at Body Weight, Currently up to 40 lbs.)
    Inverted Rows (Started at Body Weight, Currently up to 50 lbs added)
    + Hammer Curls (Heavy Dumbbells)
    + Bicep Curls (Resistance Bands)

    Weighted Push Ups (Started at Body Weight, Current 150 lbs added + 110 lbs through body weight)
    Weighted Dips (Started at Body Weight, Currently at 75 lbs)
    Weighted Close Grip Diamonds (Started at Body Weight, Currently at 45 lbs)

    Backpack / DB Squats (Started at Body Weight, Currently at 180 lbs added)
    Dead Lifts (Heavy Dumbbells / 100 lbs each)

    That's pretty much the most part of my routine. I'm confused to why people say "Weightlifting" is far superior on other forums. However, weighted calisthenics seem to get more love here. I don't see
    how weight lifting is far superior as in only (3) months, I've constantly progressed and increased
    weight every single week from my start date. Not only is my weight steadily increasing, but I'm seeing a HUGE DIFFERENCE in my build, so noticeable that I'm getting compliments daily from friends / family.

    That brings up the question. Does anyone have any photo's or know any builders who trained exclusively with weighted calisthenics, to get a visual idea of what kind of frame they built up? Also, how do you feel about weighted calisthenics?
    iron&flint, Kozushi and pet' like this.
  2. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    I forgot to add for Chest / Push day, I left out some critical movements that I do throw in.

    On chest day I also throw in:

    (4) Sets of Inline Dumbbell Press
    (4) Sets of Gironda Dips (Weighted Lightly 5-15 lbs)

    And I also throw in:
    (4) Sets of Military / Overhead Presses
    (4) Sets of Lateral Raises (Deltoids)
    (3) Sets of Shrugs
    pet' likes this.
  3. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Interesting, and thanks for sharing your results. I don't have an opinion on weighted calisthenics but I have a couple of questions:

    What sort of reps/sets scheme do you usually use?

    How do you decide when to add weight?
    Kozushi and Steve W. like this.
  4. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Bill Been,
    I'm going to tell @Anna C that you've hijacked her account ;-)
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
    Anna C likes this.
  5. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Haha... He needs an un-moderated voice ;)

    But actually it can't be him, because there's a definite lack of snark.
    Steve W. likes this.
  6. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I happen to enjoy Bill's snark BTW, but he's been known to use the Socratic approach, too.
    Anna C likes this.
  7. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    No worries. I'm honestly curious to the results myself. As I mentioned earlier, I've been a body weight fan for a while. But that was all high-rep endurance after a while. This go-around I'm trying to focus on 1. Strength, then 2. Mass rather than endurance. I look at it as more of an "old school" training method, but it's more-so because I love weights, but I love body-movements better as I believe they are more "efficient." With that said, I'm planning to go at least a solid 24-months of mostly all compound body exercises - weighted. And I'm very curious about the long term results.

    As far as the rep scheme, again, I'm aiming for strength first, but I'm also hoping to gain mass. With that said, I'm working through both strength and hypertrophy ranges. The first few weeks were more of trial and error, learning my body, and how to maintain proper form through the rom with weights attached.

    Just using Pull Up's as an example this mornings scheme, Set 1: 3r, S2: 5r, S3: 6r, S4: 8r, S5: 10r Starting Weight: 40 lbs + Bodyweight

    Each week I increase pull up's and chin-up's starting weight by 2.5 lbs. Each week I've increased Push Up's and Dips by 5 to 10 lbs.

    It took me a while to find out how many sets I needed to get in, but I feel like I have it dialed in. If I can complete the 5th Set for 10 reps on the last set by the last workout of the week for that exercise, that I will be able to achieve my 2.5-5 lb increase the following week on pull ups, as example.

    I hit each group 3 times per week, including legs. The only thing is, I found (3) weighted days of weighted compounds taxed too much, and interfered with recovery. After the first month I switched too a new routine. Every-time it stops working, I'll make some changes. Currently I do do heavy weighted days on push and pull, and 1 speed/explosive day. On the speed explosive day I do more isometric moves, like clapping push ups, explosive sets of 7 or less reps, explosive dips, etc. I do not do high-rep schemes on explosive day, only explosive movements. I felt like my first few weeks, (3) weighted days was fine, but after my first month, it became too much with too little recovery.

    I've also started strict dieting when I started this routine. 6,000+ Calories a day, 275+ Grams of Protein, 250+ Carbs

    Using GNC 1340 Mass Gainer (2) Shakes a day
    Snacks: 1/2 lb homemade beef jerky or peanuts/almonds
    Lunch: Chicken, Tuna, or Fish + Greens
    Afternoon GNC 1340 Shake.
    Dinner: Steak, or some type of red meat (usually 1 lb.) + Potatoes, Beans, or Rice
    Afternoon Snack: Cottage Cheese or Fruit
  8. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    If strength is the goal, maybe you can get some inspiration from either the Fighter Pull Up program or the Daily Dose Deadlift.

    Basically, you can use weight which makes you do the exact number of reps. So previous to the training, it can be useful to know your xRM

    Kind regards,

  9. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    Another thing I'll add is:

    The first two months I was using Chest Dips during my Chest Sessions. But this past month recently switched to doing Vince Gironda Dips during Chest Sessions. I started using resistance bands over my shoulders during the Gironda Bands as they've became more natural. But my first time actually doing
    a set of these, I felt like I was just taught the Dip movement. It felt amazing in the bottom of my chest that's started to lack behind my upper-chest. After these became more natural, I started experimenting with the resistance band over my shoulders. I do not want to put my shoulder at risk, so I've started with very light bands (20/30 lb bands) and it did exactly as I expected, put the weight directly into the bottom of my chest.

    I've noticed huge gains in my Triceps, and the only two exercise I've been using for triceps are Weighted Dips and Weighted Diamonds.

    My weight currently is added through a military tactical back pack.

    However, being that I'm growing and increasing in weight, I'm planning to investing in a 150 lb. Vest. My goals to be able to do push up's with the 150 lb vest on push up bars, then slowly add resistance bands to keep gaining strength.
  10. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    I actually thought that Daily Dose Dead lift was a pretty awesome read. As far as the Pull Up Fighter program, do you think that program would be
    good for mass gains also? As I'm trying to bulk or go up in weight class. I like the layout of the Pull Up Fighter Program, I'm just not sure with using
    weighted movements it would be the best route due to recovery.
  11. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    How about a program of using (1) strength day / other two hypertrophy. Wouldn't that be a good way to get 1 Rep Max, and give me two hypertrophy days. This would allow me to do ample hypertrophy sets without being worn down too much from my first few strength sets also?
  12. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Interesting... I was interested in how it might compare to a barbell strength building program. Looks quite similar. I find programming interesting but still have a lot to learn.

    Yes! And THAT is how you know if you should stay on your current program or if you need to change something. It is also how you learn what works for YOU. Nice work.

    Sounds like you're paying close attention to recovery, too. Always an important part of the equation.

    This is somewhat like Westside/conjugate method, isn't it? (I'm asking whoever knows because I'm only vaguely familiar.)

    Again, not an expert here.... but my impression is that you'd be better off to focus on hypertrophy for a block of training (perhaps 4-8 weeks) then focus on strength for a separate block of training (the next 4-8 weeks). That way you can also set up your recovery and diet to best support the training and results.

    Thanks again for the detailed info.
    Tarzan likes this.
  13. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    I think you will gain a little bit yes, but this is not the real purpose.

    You can use the principle of the "slow switch" article using some weight then:
    How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part I | StrongFirst

    Kind regards,

  14. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    6,000 Calories A Day

    The only individual who needs to consume that many calories per day are Tour De France Bikers, individual like Michael Phelps (who trained a lot), etc.

    For individual like you, consuming 6,000 calories a day will increase your weight. However, most of the weight you gain will be body fat along with some muscle.

    Drs Layne Norton and John Ivy

    Research of these two individual was independent of each other but came to the same conclusion.

    Increasing your daily caloric intake by 20% was the most effective at increasing muscle mass and minimizing body fat gains.

    Which lead us to...

    Mass Gainers

    Mass Gainers provide a lot of "Junk Food Calories".

    The primary source of carbohydrates in the GNC Mass Gainer and the majority of other brands is maltodextrin.

    Maltodextrin dramatically elevates your blood glucose which triggers insulin release.

    Insulin is a "Global Anabolic Hormone". Global meaning it increases muscle mass as well as body fat.


    1) Consuming 6,000 calories is too much. It ensure more body fat gain.

    2) Mass Gainers are loaded with high glycemic index carbohydrates, such as maltodextrin and dextrose. Both dramatically increase you blood sugar which trigger elevated insulin.

    As per Jay Robb (Nutritionist), "Insulin is a Fat Maker..."

    3) Increasing your daily intake 20% above your maintenance calories ensure more muscle mass is gained while minimizing body fat gain.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Kozushi likes this.
  15. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    Kenny, I've followed and read up on your stats before so I know you know what your talking about, so don't think I'm questioning your statement, because in reality, it's right. However, that would only be accurate for the average 30 year old male burning 2,600 calories per day at a moderate rate. The problem with that is I don't burn calories a moderate 2,600 per day, I've counted calories for a while, and I burn moderately more than the average human being. I do manual labor in 100-105 degrees heat daily, that involves walking and jogging all day long for 8 hours, than on top of that, I do training sessions per day (Morning 1 hour, Afternoon 1 Hour.) I promise you, I'm not gaining fat, or a whole lot at all. LOL It also doesn't help having a super metabolism and two parents who never weighed more than 140 soaking wet.

    The heaviest I've ever weighed was 165, that was doing near a thousand push ups a day.

    I quit working out and dropped to the same weight as both of my parents, 140.

    I've now been in the bulking phase for 3 months, sitting at 163. My arms are the biggest they've ever been. Thanks to the HEAVY WEIGHTED DIPS, my triceps literally seem to be growing by the day.

    As for the shakes, if I could get in enough calories without them, I would defiantly do so. Owning a business, working outside in the heat, doesn't build of an appetite and in fact, makes me not want to eat. I honestly try and get the calories, protein, and macro's in anyway I can to avoid going backwards on the scale.
    Kozushi likes this.
  16. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    Weighted pullups is like climbing up something with a backpack or a baby or comrade on your back. This is a practical movement pattern in my opinion.

    There are folks on these forums who put sandbags and barbell plates on their backs to do pushups.

    Doing bodyweight rows with a weight on your back is again like real world stuff. Imagine you're pulling yourself up a rock face using a rope - similar for sure!

    All good stuff!

    There are people who hold kettlebells on the tops of their feet and do pullups, or wear a thick belt with a hook that carries the heavy kettlebell.

    If I'm understanding Pavel's teachings correctly, as long as you're doing the "big pull" movement be that deadlifts, kettlebell swings, snatches, i.e. a pull that uses both your upper and lower bodies -requiring a weight- , you are ensuring you are functionally strong for the real world. Everything else is useful bonus - should do a push of some kind though! I can't see how weighted callisthenics would not be a good thing to do if you're into it!
  17. pullupfighter

    pullupfighter Double-Digit Post Count

    I look at Pull Ups, Dips, and Push Up's as very efficient moves for both endurance strength using only body weight, but also I think they are very UNDER-RATED when used as mass builders. The only problem is there's not a whole lot of resources of weighted calesth. I believe heavy compound moves like pull up's, dips, and push up's are the most efficient, because they build so many muscle groups at once. However, I believe for mass, the key is progressive over-load. Dips and Push Up's you should be able to add 10 lbs every week or two. Pull Up's I've only been able to add about half of that. I also believe other key heavy weight movements are important like Dead lifts and Squats.

    I'm planning to post photo's after a 6 month update, meaning I'm going to wait a few more months and see where it goes.

    I think I'm going to go ahead though, and try splitting my routine into (2) Hypertrophy Days / (1) Max Rep / Strength Day and see where it takes me.

    I think I'm also going to continue hitting each group 3 days until I feel I need more recovery. I'm taking in tons of calories and protein, and feel I still have plenty of capacity at this rate for now. Maybe once I get heavier and heavier, I'll have to dial back to 2x week.
    Kozushi likes this.
  18. q.Hung

    q.Hung More than 500 posts

    You should ask them.
    Serious bodybuilders need both Heavy compound and heavy isolated exercises, each for different purposes. I have few friends who competes both on Bodybuilding and Powerlifting, they said that 3 months before the stage, they only use isolated exercises + cardio, even when sometime they do somekind of deadlift they use only target muscles. So basically, compare between those two are meaningless.

    I find it weird that usually, weighted calisthenics is bashed by "pure" calisthenics guys, not by weightlifter. Anyway, if you find your routine is useful, then continue to work on that. If you follow the principles of training then any tool, any program will bring you good result. Good luck with your training.
  19. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Okay, now I understand why you are consuming 6,000 calories a day. It make sense.

    Kenny Croxdale
  20. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    I suspect you're right about all this. I also suspect that technique and form and range-of-motion that one uses to do the movement becomes increasingly important as you load it, relative to results, and programming, and risk of injury -- just as it does with squats, deadlifts, etc. And that may be why these get "lost" in various groups' discussion of training approaches. It's just harder to nail down exactly what a person is doing when there's not a model or standard to follow, and it's much harder to find a model or standard for a dip or push-up as compared with a squat or deadlift.
    Tarzan likes this.

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